November 17, 2021
The economic impact of startups connected with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continues to grow across the Tar Heel State.
A recent semi-annual analysis conducted by Innovate Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill’s innovation services hub and University-wide initiative for innovation and entrepreneurship, reported the positive effect of UNC-affiliated startups during the past fiscal year as the COVID-19 pandemic dampened local and global economies.
The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy made a significant contribution to UNC’s overall startup success from 2020-2021:
- $38.4 million in revenue
- 243 total employees, 166 of which are in NC
- 123 total volunteers
- 93% of School startups are headquartered in North Carolina
- $24,859,582 in funding raised by pharmacy startups (a total of $904,966,592 raised since 1958)
“The innovation from our faculty and students is having a positive impact on improving patient care, attracting funding and creating jobs right here in North Carolina,” said Angela Kashuba, Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
During fiscal year 2021, UNC startups and ventures made the following contributions in North Carolina and beyond:
- $15.2 billion in annual revenue earned by UNC-affiliated startups.
- 95% of $15.2 billion in revenue ($14.4 billion) is from ventures headquartered in North Carolina.
- 12,767 people employed in North Carolina by UNC startups with 89,579 people employed by Carolina startups worldwide
- 83% of active UNC-Chapel Hill startups (446 of 538) are headquartered across 29 North Carolina counties.
- $2.3 billion in funding raised during fiscal year 2021 (a total of $17.8 billion raised since 1958).
“Carolina faculty, students and alumni continue to raise the bar as they launch and scale more startups that solve important business and social problems across the state and globally,” said Michelle Bolas, interim vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development at UNC-Chapel Hill, who also oversees the Innovate Carolina initiative. “Entrepreneurs are vital in moving our economy toward a post-pandemic resurgence, and our Innovate Carolina team understands the critical role it plays in providing a hub of startup services and go-to-market expertise that startup founders and the owners of small businesses can turn to as they build for the future.”
Recent UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy startup success
Over the past year, a UNC muco-trapping antibody platform technology invented by UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Professor Sam Lai, Ph.D. and colleagues has made significant progress toward improving human health worldwide. Inhalon Biopharma, a startup focused on treating acute respiratory infections and founded by Dr. Lai, licensed this UNC technology and announced in October that the first patient has been dosed in a Phase 1 safety and tolerability study to utilize the UNC technology platform in the treatment of COVID-19.
UNC’s muco-trapping antibody platform directly traps the virus in airway mucus, preventing the local spread of infection and quickly eliminating the virus from the lungs through the body’s natural ability to clear mucus. Inhaled therapy can be readily self-administered by patients at home, extend critical drug supplies to more patients by reducing the dosage needed, and reduces the demand on healthcare staff and infusion clinic space that frequently accompanies IV drugs.
Over the years, UNC’s Eshelman Institute for Innovation has awarded Lai more than $700,000 in grants to support the development of the muco-trapping antibody platform. The most recent award was giving at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sam Lai, PhD (right), a professor of pharmacoengineering and molecular pharmaceutics at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is the creator of a UNC technology platform and founder of startup company Inhalon Biopharma that is further developing the platform. The company has recently advanced the UNC technology into Phase 1 clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19.
Continuing to foster bold, high-risk, high-reward ideas
The Eshelman Institute for Innovation is forging a game-changing approach to translating bold new ideas into real-world impact for patients. Housed in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Eshelman Institute funds and supports the advancement of therapeutic and digital health technologies created at UNC Chapel Hill.
The Eshelman Institute pursues bold, high-risk, high-reward ideas engaging in strategic collaborations inside and outside UNC, creating jobs and spurring economic development in the state of North Carolina and beyond. Since 2015, the Institute has awarded over $28MM in funding to 148 projects resulting in $70.5MM in follow-on funding, creating 26 technology licenses, and supporting 13 startup companies.
The Eshelman Institute seeks to fund translational research related to therapeutics focused on oncology, infectious disease, and neuroscience (including rare diseases) and digital health technologies. However, the Institute also welcomes ideas for devices and diagnostics, and other therapeutic areas and services. In addition, the Eshelman Institute for Innovation has recently expanded their scope and now allows grant submissions from all faculty and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The Institute’s upcoming faculty and staff award cycle will open on November 29, 2021. To learn more about their grant process, please visit the Institute’s website or email EshelmanInstitute@unc.edu.