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North Carolina Angel Groups Host Angel Capital Association’s Southeast Regional Meeting

DURHAM, NC, June 5, 2013 — The Angel Capital Association (ACA) has announced that the annual Southeast Regional meeting will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC on September 16 and 17, 2013. It will be hosted by North Carolina angel investor groups RTP Capital Associates, Triangle Angel Partners (TAP), Piedmont Angel Network, Inception Micro Angel Fund, Investors’ Circle and Wilmington Investors Network, with organizational help from CED.

“This is one of the best opportunities for accredited investors interested in early stage companies to network with their peers in the Southeast,” said Elaine Bolle, president of the Board of Directors, RTP Capital Associates. “The conference provides a forum to share ideas and deals, and to discuss current issues that matter to angel investors.”

The meeting brings early stage investors from the Southeast closer together, promoting best practices and deal syndication. Speakers include Burr Sutter, senior product manager for Red Hat/JBoss, and Bob Okabe, managing director, RPX Group LLC, who will lead the Angel Resource Institute workshop Trends in Raising Capital, featuring updated industry data. Other speakers will be announced soon and listed on the website. On Tuesday, September 17, there will be a showcase of over 30 early stage companies. An investor-only dinner follows the second day.

“North Carolina’s entrepreneurial community wins when angel investors gather in the Research Triangle,” said Joan Siefert Rose, President of CED. The meeting coincides with the CED Tech Venture Conference, offering greater incentives for the investors to identify new deal flow opportunities from some of the brightest early stage companies in the region.

Registration for both the ACA Southeast Regional meeting and the CED Tech Venture Conference is $225; attendees who cannot stay for the Tech Venture Conference will pay $175. The highly discounted ‘bundled event’ fee allows investors to extend their stay and see the Triangle’s hottest early stage start-ups.

About ACA

The Angel Capital Association is the leading professional and trade association supporting the success of angel investors in high-growth, early-stage ventures. More information on ACA’s activities and its growing network of over 200 angel groups may be found at

About CED

CED’s mission is to identify, enable and promote high-growth, high-impact companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture of the Research Triangle and North Carolina.

About the Angel Groups Participating

RTP Capital Associates is a member-driven angel network giving insight, guidance, and other strategic resources while investing in seed and early-stage companies primarily in the Southeastern US.

Triangle Angel Partners (TAP) is an experienced band of angels in the high tech and life sciences industries with $3 million in committed capital, interested in investing their time, analysis and money into early life cycle companies.

The Piedmont Angel Network operates a series of committed capital funds and has invested more than $10 million in 23 start-up companies since 2002.

IMAF-RTP is a member managed angel seed fund that is organized to provide members an opportunity for active involvement in a diversified capital investment process.

Investors’ Circle is the oldest, largest, and most successful early stage impact investing network, with $172 million invested in enterprises solving significant social or environmental challenges.

Wilmington Investor’s Network is a network fund of early stage investors with investments in technology and biotechnology and partners with other angel funds and networks throughout the United States.

Arbovax Completes Successful Pre-Clinical Trial of Tetravalent Dengue Vaccine

Successful Pre-Clinical Tests Support Vaccine Platform, New Injection Protocol

Raleigh N.C., March 18, 2013- Arbovax, Inc., a development-stage biotechnology company, has successfully demonstrated the validity of its vaccine technology in non-human primates and will now move to Phase 1 clinical trials with its unique dengue fever vaccine.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the results of this pre-clinical trial,” said Malcolm Thomas, president and CEO of Arbovax, “especially in light of some of the disappointing results from recent clinical trials involving vaccines under development by others. These results show we’re on track to produce a meaningful weapon against the global increase in dengue fever outbreaks.”

To test its far-reaching tetravalent vaccine, Arbovax employed an innovative immunization protocol. Researchers injected each of the four distinct strains (serotypes) of the actual dengue virus into a different limb of the animal.

This distribution eliminated the possibility of interference in virus replication. When two or more serotypes infect the same tissues, they may compete with one another, preventing a balanced immune response. The Arbovax approach requires only one round of inoculations with no boost, or adjuvant, required. This is especially significant for protecting people in developing nations with limited access to transportation and medical care.

All the vaccinated subjects developed antibodies to each of the four dengue serotypes. The vaccinated subjects also showed a marked increase in antibody response after they were challenged with the virus, indicating good protection, with low levels of potentially deleterious non-specific neutralizing antibody.

“The Arbovax tetravalent vaccine is the only vaccine of its kind. It combines good science and virus knowledge to overcome problems in the dengue biology that so far has made the dengue vaccine issue a very difficult task”, said Dr. Davis Ferreira, a leading researcher in dengue fever at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “This new technology becomes very important mainly because all traditional approaches have failed so far. Also, the technology may be applied to other viruses that are transmitted by arthropods. I am very optimistic for the success of Arbovax’s new dengue vaccine.”

“The unique nature of these arboviruses supports the assertion from a number of sources that the best approach is a whole-virus vaccine,” said Thomas. “This is the basis of the Arbovax technology. As a result, we will be moving forward with our tetravalent vaccine to a phase 1 human trial as soon as is possible.”

Arbovax, based in Raleigh, is developing its novel and innovative platform technology for vaccines against the 200-plus arthropod-borne viral diseases that affect man. The company has received over $600,000 in loan support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center since 2006.

The core technology, developed by Drs. Dennis Brown and Raquel Hernandez of North Carolina State University, provides a cost-effective way to address mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Arbovax’s initial focus is dengue fever because it is ranked second only to malaria by the World Health Organization for its devastating global impact with 2.5 to 3 billion people, more than 40 percent of the world’s population, at risk for infection. Recent outbreaks in South America, Brazil, India and parts of the United States highlight the worldwide spread of the disease.


PAN Portfolio Company Leaders Honored by CIT GAP Funds

Virginia is known for its robust entrepreneurial community that heralds innovation and ingenuity from all corners of the state. CIT GAP Funds honored 50 entrepreneurs – recognized by peer entrepreneurs – as most likely to build Virginia’s next generation life science, technology, and energy companies on December 13, 2012.

Nominating criteria included:

  • Individuals who are most likely to found a high-growth tech, life science or energy venture in the next 5 years
  • Individuals both with or without current involvement in a start-up
  • Individuals with strong ties to Virginia (but not required to be Virginia residents)
  • Individuals must exhibit substantive involvement in Virginia’s technology or entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • In order to qualify for final voting individuals must be nominated by 3 people
  • CIT Board members and employees are not eligible

Among the 2012 Honorees were Dr. John Herr, founder of SpermCheck and Dr. Crystal Icenhour, founder of Phthisis.

John Christian Herr, Professor of Cell Biology at University of Virginia

Dr. Herr is a cell, molecular, and developmental biologist with basic and translational research experience in academics and industry, including research and corporate management. His research is focused on novel genes involved in spermatogenesis and oogenesis in mice and humans including naming more than 35 genes in the human genome. He has directed a 35-person academic research center in contraceptive and reproductive health [funding > $40 M over 16-year period] and is an inventor on more than 25 issued patents; multiple pending patents. He has served as member of Boards of Directors of corporations and foundations, including 11 years as a Director of the University of Virginia Patents Foundation and five years on the Coulter Translational Partnership Board.

Crystal Icenhour, President and CSO of Phthisis Diagnostics

In 2006, Crystal Icenhour, PhD, became President and Director of Research for Phthisis Diagnostics, located in Charlottesville, VA. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases in their Department of Medicine. She has demonstrated business leadership in addition to her scientific capabilities and is focused on “bridging the translational gap between these two worlds.” Dr. Icenhour currently serves on the board of Virginia BIO and is a member of Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Sigma Xi, Medical Mycology Society of the Americas, National Postdoctoral Association, American Society for Microbiology, and Association for Molecular Pathology.


Piedmont Pharmaceuticals to Create New Jobs in Guilford County

State Grant Helps Biotech Company Expand in Greensboro

RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that Piedmont Pharmaceuticals LLC, a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, will expand its operations in Guilford County. The company plans to create 14 jobs and invest $279,000 over the next three years in Greensboro. The project was made possible in part by an $88,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.

“My top priority is creating jobs,” said Gov. Perdue. “Our highly-skilled workforce and strong business climate have allowed the biotech industry to thrive in North Carolina. It’s no surprise that our state has one of the fastest growing biotech clusters in the nation.”

Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Greensboro, is a privately-held pharmaceutical development company that focuses on animal health products. The company’s expertise is in parasitology and drug delivery technologies. Piedmont Pharmaceuticals currently employs 12 people at its Greensboro laboratory.

Salaries will vary by job function, but the average annual wage for the new jobs will be $108,429, plus benefits. The Guilford County average annual wage is $40,196.

“North Carolina was selected for Piedmont’s next expansion since it has a talented pool of experienced life science professionals and a variety of organizations, including the N.C. Biotechnology Center and N.C. Department of Commerce, who were very supportive when Piedmont was in the start up phase,” said Roland Johnson, CEO of Piedmont Pharmaceuticals.

The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches.

“Today’s job announcement is great news for Guilford County,” said Sen. Don Vaughn of Greensboro. North Carolina’s investments in workforce development, infrastructure and education mean Piedmont Pharmaceuticals can find the skilled, trained workers they need to thrive.”

North Carolina continues to have a top-ranked business climate. Through Gov. Perdue’s JobsNOW initiative, the state works aggressively to create jobs, train and retrain its workforce, and lay the foundation for a strong and sustainable economic future.

Through use of the One NC Fund, more than 60,000 jobs and $11 billion in investment have been created since 2001. Other partners that helped with this project include: the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, N.C. Biotechnology Center, Guilford County, City of Greensboro and the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance.

For more information about Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, including job opportunities, go to


Batanga Media Acquires Lifestyle Publisher Crovat

Acquisition adds over 300 websites to the Batanga Media Portfolio

MIAMI, Aug. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Batanga Media today announced the acquisition of Crovat, a company that since 2007 has created and developed over 300 consumer websites. Dedicated to providing users with lifestyle and entertainment content, Crovat publishes various sites, blogs and communities with over 12 million unique visits per month.

Focused mainly on women’s lifestyle, Crovat produces and publishes over 2,000 stories monthly including text, video and photos. Crovat’s portfolio of sites includes,,,, and, to name a few.

“This latest acquisition solidifies Batanga Media as a digital leader in the women’s lifestyle category, both in the US Hispanic and Latin American Markets,” said Rafael Urbina, Chairman and CEO, Batanga Media. “Our dedication to delivering relevant and entertaining content for Hispanic communities around the world has never been stronger.”

“Crovat was founded by a team of individuals dedicated to content creation and the development of interactive platforms,” saidSantiago Pehar, founder of Crovat. “We are excited to join the Batanga Media team and are eager to develop additional content utilizing the expertise of the leading digital media company in the Americas.”

Crovat founder Santiago Pehar joins Batanga Media as Vice President of Product, overseeing all of the company’s lifestyle properties.

About Batanga Media 

Batanga Media is the largest independent digital content and social media company for Latin America and Hispanic communities around the world. The company’s digital brands including,,, and, connect, inform and entertain digital audiences of the emerging markets across the Americas. Utilizing these properties and an extensive network of premium partners, Batanga Media offers advertisers a range of digital services that target and engage audiences, delivering quantifiable results. Founded in 1999, Batanga Media is headquartered in Miami, Florida and has operations in 14 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.


Sandbox Learning Awarded $75,000 SBIR Phase I Grant

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sandbox Learning has been selected for funding with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for fiscal year 2012.

The project, Pocket Potty Program – Toilet Training for Children with Developmental Disabilities, is to develop and evaluate a mobile application for teaching elementary and middle school aged children with developmental disabilities (autism and intellectual disabilities) toilet training skills.

Currently toilet training skills are taught using timers, paper and pencil for schedules and tracking which allows for human error and does not easily translate across environments. The Pocket Potty Program teaches toilet training using well researched methods to reduce human error and an iPod touch so skills can be addressed across home, school, and community settings.

Bioptigen Receives FDA Clearance to Market Envisu™ Imaging Systems in U.S.

Devices become first OCT systems cleared for hand-held ophthalmic imaging of children

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Bioptigen Inc. has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin marketing its hand-held Envisu Spectral Domain Ophthalmic Imaging System (SDOIS) devices for patient use.

The Envisu SDOIS aids in the diagnosis of physiological and pathological conditions of the eye through non-contact optical imaging. In receiving this regulatory clearance, Bioptigen’s Envisu SDOIS become the first optical coherence tomography imaging systems commercially available in the United States for hand-held and pediatric imaging.

Envisu’s ergonomic, hand-held scanner enables imaging of patients of all ages – from premature and neonatal infants to adults – whether they are upright or supine, ambulatory or confined. And interchangeable lenses allow clinicians to image various structures of the eye, from cornea to retina.

“Our devices are generally indicated for patients who are not well suited to imaging with traditional, tabletop devices,” said Dr. Eric Buckland, president and CEO of Bioptigen. “Bioptigen’s Envisu ophthalmic imaging devices provide a unique degree of flexibility that benefits clinicians and the patients they care for. It’s exciting to be able to market our C-series devices in the United States and support efforts by health-care providers to deliver appropriate medical interventions, especially for the underserved pediatric patient population.”

Bioptigen already has received regulatory approval from Canadian, European and Australian authorities to commercially market its Envisu C2200 and C2300 ophthalmic imaging devices in those respective regions.

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Bioptigen a grant to continue investigation of ophthalmic imaging solutions for premature and neonatal infants.

Deployed in the top 10 U.S. ophthalmic research institutions, Bioptigen devices are covered by 60- plus patent applications, including 30 awarded patents. More than 100 scientific articles have been published citing data acquired with Bioptigen technologies. Learn more about Bioptigen and its technologies at


IMAF Charlotte and PAN Announce Funding of Virtual Race Bags

Online PR News – 12-April-2012 – IMAF-Charlotte (IMAF) and the Piedmont Angel Network (PAN) are pleased to announce the funding of another Charlotte based startup, Virtual Race Bags, Inc. (VRB). IMAF-Charlotte acted as the lead investor on the Series A round, which was syndicated with PAN. VRB’s existing Seed Round investors also participated in the Series A offering. VRB, founded by entrepreneurs Chris Bradle and Gary Schwake, is a leading online marketing and promotion company focused on endurance events. Currently, the VRB platform has supported hundreds of events that have reached over 750,000 participants throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Gary Schwake, President of VRB commented “we are thrilled to have IMAF and PAN taking leadership roles in our Series A. Both funds ran a smooth, efficient process and share in our excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead for Virtual Race Bags.” IMAF-Charlotte Director, Dan Gotte, is happy to add VRB to their existing portfolio, commenting that the interests in VRB was due to the strong management team and ability to properly execute their vision.

IMAF-Charlotte is part of the IMAF Family of Funds designed to capitalize on the entrepreneurial growth activity and venture financing throughout the state of North Carolina and selective areas in the southeast. IMAF is actively seeking successful investors and entrepreneurs throughout the greater Charlotte region. The fund’s goal is to enhance the wealth creation of its members by investing capital as well as time in early stage, high quality and growth companies.

The Piedmont Angel Network is a committed capital angel fund that focuses on investment opportunities in early stage companies that present high growth opportunities. PAN has invested in 23 companies since 2002 with a primary focus on the life science, technology, software and advanced material fields. While the fund has a preference to invest in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, PAN has made investments across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Chris Bradle and Gary Schwake launched Charlotte-based Virtual Race Bags in 2010. The Company offers endurance events (running, triathlon, etc.) an integrated, semi-custom, online platform that enables event organizers and promoters a turn-key platform to efficiently deliver messages, ads, offers and other promotions from sponsors and advertisers to event participants.

Piedmont Pharma and Hisun Sign Agreement to Develop Animal Pharmaceuticals

Collaboration also projected to benefit partnering animal health companies worldwide

NEW YORK, March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, a privately held strategic pharmaceutical development, licensing, and marketing company headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., USA, and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals (SSE stock code 600267), a leading Chinese pharmaceutical company headquartered in Zhejiang, China, announce the signing of a joint agreement to develop companion animal health pharmaceuticals for China and other markets worldwide.

“New products are the lifeblood of every pharmaceutical company,” says Roland Johnson, chairman and CEO of Piedmont Pharmaceuticals. “Hisun is a globally-recognized pharmaceutical provider that demonstrates excellence in every facet of their business operations. This partnership will allow the team at Piedmont to develop and bring even more innovative animal health products to strategic business partners and pet owners worldwide.”

Hua Bai, CEO and chairman of Hisun Pharmaceuticals, notes, “Hisun is very pleased to enter this partnership with Piedmont Pharmaceuticals. The Piedmont team has tremendous depth of expertise and 25 years of proven success with some of the most successful animal health products ever introduced. This product development agreement is a significant component of our strategy to become a leading global supplier of animal health pharmaceuticals. Products emerging from this collaboration will not only help Chinese consumers ensure the health of their pets, but will serve pet owners in other global markets as well.”

Serving a growing market

Current estimates place China’s pet population at 200 million, with that number expected to reach 500 million by 2015.[i] China is the world’s second largest economy behind the U. S., and in the last 30 years, economic growth in China has averaged 8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) annually.[ii] Many analysts predict that China will become the largest economy in the world this century.

Combining strengths

Formed by a group of industry veterans, Piedmont Pharmaceuticals develops and achieves regulatory approval for its innovative animal health and human products, then licenses them to strong commercial partners. Piedmont has licensed a number of its novel animal health products to U.S.-based Pfizer, U.K.-based Dechra Pharmaceuticals, and Germany-based Bayer Animal Health.

Based on sales revenues, members of Piedmont’s team have been involved at some level — including conception, development, regulatory, or marketing — with products that represent more than 10 percent of total dollars spent in the companion animal veterinary pharmaceuticals market in the U.S. today.

Hisun supplies active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Alpharma.[iii] In February 2011, Hisun entered into a joint venture framework agreement with Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, to develop products for human health.

Piedmont and Hisun will combine their strengths in research, development, regulatory, manufacturing, and distribution to improve the health and well-being of companion animals worldwide. Committed to meeting the manufacturing needs of its global expansion policy, Hisun currently has more than 200,000 square feet of new space under construction at the Fuyang site in China, including 35,000 square feet dedicated to the new animal health business.

About Hisun

Hisun is a leading biopharmaceutical group focused on improving patient wellbeing and quality of life. Headquartered in Taizhou (Zhejiang, China), the company currently employs more than 3,800 people. Hisun’s operations strictly follow cGMP and received ISO 14000 certification in 2001. To date, more than 40 of the company’s products have passed certification by the FDA (US), EDQM (EU), TGA (Australia), KFDA (Korea), etc., and are sold in more than 30 countries. The company opened its U.S. headquarters in Princeton, N.J., in 2010. For more information, visit

About Piedmont

Piedmont Pharmaceuticals LLC is a Greensboro, N.C.-based strategic pharmaceutical development and licensing company focused on human and animal health therapeutics with specific expertise in parasitology and drug delivery systems. The company discovers, develops, and achieves regulatory approval for innovative animal health and human health products, and then licenses them to strong commercial partners. Since its inception in 2001, Piedmont has licensed multiple novel patented delivery platforms to strategic partners. Through licensing agreements, Piedmont has products currently marketed in numerous countries. For more information, visit

[i] China International Business, January 19, 2010.
[ii] Economy Watch, June 2010.
[iii], January 30, 2008.


ContraVac SpermCheck Male Fertility Tests Available in Stores

By Timothy W. Martin

Even when couples are grappling with infertility, many men balk at getting their sperm count checked. Now, an over-the-counter product enables them to check their count without a trip to the doctor.

SpermCheck Fertility promises to spot potential problems with male fertility in just about 10 minutes, potentially avoiding unneeded visits by women to the gynecologist or obstetrician, according to its owner and distributor, ContraVac Inc., a biotechnology start-up in Charlottesville, Va.

The company says it offers men the same kind of quick test women have access to with pregnancy or ovulation tests. “There’s now some gender equality on the family planning shelf,” said John C. Herr, a University of Virginia cell biology professor who came up with the product’s concept and helped in its development with a team of university staff.

More than seven million couples report having infertility issues every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about one-third of infertility cases are the result of male issues, with another third female, according to the agency. (The remaining third of infertility cases are caused by a combination of male and female problems or are unknown.)

Family planning products are a $250 million industry, dominated for now by ovulation-prediction and pregnancy-test kits, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market-research firm.

After winning approval from the Food and Drug Administration, ContraVacbegan selling the kits in recent months online, through the websites of drug chains Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp. Walgreen plans to sell SpermCheck at its stores for $39.99 starting in mid-April.

ContraVac says the tests are 98% accurate, based on independent tests that were submitted to the FDA. Still, urologists caution that SpermCheck only measures one potential cause of male fertility. Sperm count “is just one of several parameters that’s looked at when we look at male fertility,” said Arthur Tarantino, president of the American Association of Clinical Urologists, adding male infertility could also occur due to the sperm’s movement or shape.

And while SpermCheck was FDA-approved to identify any sperm count lower than 20 million sperm per milliliter, the World Health Organization recently revised its standard, identifying any sperm count lower than 15 million sperm per milliliter as low. Most men, however, are capable of producing up to 300 million sperm per milliliter, so the lowered standard is “statistically extremely small,” Mr. Herr said.

Most semen analysis conducted by doctors costs between $100 and $250, though most health plans cover the test, according to urologists.

SpermCheck works by taking a semen sample and adding a solution that extracts “SP-10” protein found only in the coating of the sperm’s head. The concentration of the protein is proportional to a man’s sperm level. Within seven minutes, a line appears on the test kit if the sperm level is normal—not unlike a pregnancy test.

ContraVac Chief Executive Ray Lopez expects women—not men—to be the main purchasers of the product at stores. “She’s in there anyway, looking at the pregnancy test, wondering: ‘Hmm, why don’t I spend $40 and see if my man’s got an issue,’ ” Mr. Lopez said.

David Denison, a 30-year-old project manager from Greensboro, N.C., had been reluctant to get tested at a doctor’s office, so he bought SpermCheck online.

“The nice thing about this is that nobody knows you’re doing it,” said Mr. Denison, who said he would not feel awkward buying the test at a drugstore. The at-home product also allowed him flexibility in his schedule.