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NC IDEA Foundation Awards Ecosystem Partner Grant to
Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation

MBCOI Receives Tenth Grant in First Cohort of Foundation's Ecosystem Grant Partners

DURHAM, NC – January 26, 2017 - NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that it has awarded a tenth grant in its Ecosystem Partner Grant program to the Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI) of Wilmington, NC. The Foundation’s Ecosystem Partner Grant program has committed over $1.25M in funding over the next three years to organizations throughout the state that support entrepreneurs and promote entrepreneurship.

This most recent grant will directly support MBCOI’s lead role in the Fish 2.0 2017 international competition. Fish 2.0 is a global business competition that connects seafood-related businesses with investors to grow the sector in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way. MBCOI, in partnership with the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), will leverage its vast network to draw shellfish industry entrepreneurs from across twelve states in the Southeast to a regional workshop entitled “South Atlantic and Gulf Coast Shellfish” to be held in March in Wilmington, NC. This regional workshop, open to all types of shellfish ventures (aquaculture, feed, harvest, food processing, transport, packaging, or regulatory), will teach participants how to communicate effectively about their business and give them practice pitching to investors and buyers. It will also prepare them for the Fish 2.0 competition, which culminates at the Global Forum and Competition Finals in November at Stanford University. Information on how to apply can be found here.

“The addition of MBCOI to our growing cohort of grantees further expands the diversity of our program by directly supporting entrepreneurial activity in Coastal NC,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “A number of our recent seed grant recipients and finalists have benefitted from the mentoring, support and expertise of MBCOI. Funding this grant presented an opportunity for our organizations to more formally collaborate in supporting entrepreneurship in the eastern part of the state,” added Ruhe. 

NC IDEA is a private foundation committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through four initiatives. The Ecosystem Partner Grant program funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Over the last decade, the Seed Grant program has awarded over $4.75M to 114 high-growth companies across the state. Since 2011, more than 100 companies have participated in the Groundwork Labs startup program. SoarTriangle, a program founded in 2012 to address the proven funding gap for female entrepreneurs, formally became a foundation program in August 2016. Learn more at

As a powerhouse in both marine science and biotechnology research, North Carolina (NC) is poised to become a global hub for marine biotechnology in the 21st century. To facilitate that process, the Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI) was established in 2012 as an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation through an inception grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech). MBCOI’s core mission is the translation of innovative marine-related discoveries into products and services to benefit North Carolina’s economy. By combining a regional focus with a global perspective, we serve as the NEXUS for information, collaboration, and commercialization of marine biotechnologies among our stakeholders, both domestically and internationally. Learn more at  

About UNCW
The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state's coastal university, is dedicated to learning through the integration of teaching and mentoring with research and service. Guided by our Strategic Plan, the university is committed to nurturing a campus culture that reflects its values of diversity and globalization, ethics and integrity, and excellence and innovation. A public institution with more than 15,000 students, UNCW offers programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels, including in marine biology.

About Fish 2.0
Fish 2.0 connects seafood businesses and investors to grow the sustainable seafood sector. Working through our unique global network, competition platform, and events, Fish 2.0 participants collaborate to drive innovation, business growth, and positive impact. Entrepreneurs meet potential investors, partners, and advisors that help them accelerate impact and growth. Investors and experts get early access to investment opportunities and learn about emerging technologies and trends. And industry leaders gain direct access to sustainable seafood suppliers and partners.

© 2017 NC IDEA