Raleigh-Durham Roundup: Biotech Center, AvidExchange, Cempra, & More

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Here are some of the top headlines from the last week in North Carolina biotech, tech, and cleantech news.

—The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s funding was preserved in the $21.7 billion state budget, approved and signed into law last week—two months after the scheduled close of the legislative session. The Senate had initially proposed slashing the state-funded center’s $13.6 million budget entirely. Though Biotech Center funding survived, tax support for cleantech did not. The final state budget axed tax credits for solar energy and other renewable energy projects, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

—Financial technology firm AvidExchange closed on $225 million in financing, led by Bain Capital Ventures. Charlotte-based AvidExchange automates invoice and payment processes for companies in real estate, financial services, energy, and construction. AvidExchange says it will use the funding for hiring more staff, making select acquisition, and developing new technology. Also participating in the minority financing were Foundry Group, NYCA Partners, KeyBank, Square 1 Bank, and TPG Special Situations Partners.

—Two investigational drugs from Research Triangle-area drug developers received special FDA status to speed up their regulatory review. Cempra (NASDAQ: CEMP) was granted “qualified infectious disease product” designation for its antibiotic Fusidic acid (Taksta) as a potential treatment for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections. The Chapel Hill pharma had previously received QIDP status for its lead antibiotic solithromycin, which is currently in two late-stage clinical trials—one for treating community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, and another for treating gonorrhea.

Meanwhile, Durham-based Viamet Pharmaceuticals received QIDP designation for VT-1129, a pre-clinical antifungal that the company developed as a potential treatment for cryptococcal meningitis. The company expects to start a Phase 1 study of the antifungal in the fourth quarter. Under the federal Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now Act, the QIDP designation means that the Cempra and Viamet drugs could receive priority review and possible fast-track status. If approved, each drug could also receive a five-year extension of marketing exclusivity.

—Three areas off the North Carolina coast passed a federal hurdle for possible offshore wind energy development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found that wind energy projects in these three areas, totaling more than 307,000 acres, would pose no environmental or socioeconomic impacts. The next step for bringing offshore wind energy to the Carolina coast is a meeting of the North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force, scheduled for Oct. 7 in Wilmington.

—Raleigh startup Canopy closed on $1.5 million in seed funding led by IDEA Fund Partners and Cofounders Capital. Canopy has developed an online platform for homeowners to seek home maintenance and repair services. The venture arm of home-improvement retailer Lowe’s also participated in the round, as did Great Oaks Venture Capital.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Patrick Connelly via a Creative Commons license.