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December 17, 2008


Filed under: SEBIO News — admin @ 2:57 pm

Atlanta, GA – Southeast BIO (SEBIO), a regional nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of the Southeast’s life sciences industry, has announced the winner of its second annual BIO/Plan Competition, a year long business creation competition. The winner is Cerene Biomedics, Inc. (Durham, NC). Cerene Biomedics will take home the $100,000.00 (non-dilutive) BIO/Plan 1st prize.
The BIO/Plan Competition is a year-long program developed to promote the creation of new, fundable life science companies based in the Southeast. Working closely with technology transfer offices and entrepreneurs throughout the region, the competition brings forward opportunities from leading Southeastern research universities and research centers. The BIO/Plan competition received more than seventy total applications earlier this year. The applicant pool included applications from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The winner was selected from four finalists that each presented to a panel of celebrity judges at the Tenth Anniversary SEBIO Investor Forum on December 5th in Palm Beach, FL. The four finalists were selected from a group of 10 semifinalists announced in May. Each of the 10 semifinalists, selected from a group of more than 70 applicants, completed a rigorous mentoring process to develop an executable business strategy and associated written plan. The mentoring teams included three or four experienced professionals from active venture funds or angel groups, biotech entrepreneurs and managers, and service providers with relevant start-up expertise. Each mentoring team worked together for six months. The resulting business plans were judged by a panel of experts who selected the four finalists.
Cerene Biomedics is developing an implantable medical device that will aim to prevent focal epileptic seizures by delivering targeted thermoelectric cooling to the surface of the brain on a micro-scale. Brain cooling has been proven to eliminate seizure onsets; however, to date an implantable therapy has been technologically unfeasible. Cerene’s device is expected to overcome these hurdles, providing first line therapy for the target population of the approximately 230,000 U.S. epileptic patients with a seizure focus on the neocortex. The members of the Cerene Biomedics management team are Duke University graduate students in both the sciences and business approaching the completion of their degrees; the team has partnered with the inventor of the technology to move it forward.
“Cerene Biomedics was fortunate to have participated in the BIO/Plan competition this year. We received great feedback and advice from our SEBIO mentors, and our many advisers from Duke and other institutions. We also learned a lot from watching the presentations at the conference and speaking with many of the attendees,” said Christina Li, CEO of Cerene Biomedics. “We are very fortunate to have won and excited to use the momentum generated from the competition to drive Cerene Biomedics forward. This success takes us one step further toward helping patients with refractory epilepsy who currently have very limited options.”

“When we have students with a passion for entrepreneurship, like the members of this fantastic team, Duke really strives to connect them to mentoring resources and opportunities,” noted Rose Ritts, Director, Office of Licensing and Ventures, Duke University. “It’s great that they were able to participate in the BIO/Plan mentoring and win the competition.”

The winning Cerene Biomedics mentoring team included Tony Natale, Prism Ventureworks; Brad Walters, RTI Health Solutions; and Anthony Williams, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton. The Wine Gallery and Merchant (Atlanta, GA) provided a Mentor’s Prize of a selection of highly awarded, 100-point wines from vineyards representing the most prominent wine growing regions throughout the world.
“We are thrilled with the continued success of the BIO/Plan competition and the significant value it has brought to the entrepreneurial, academic and investment communities,” noted Michael Wasserman, H.I.G. Ventures and BIO/Plan Co-Chair. “We look forward to the continued success of this program and anticipate an even broader range of high quality applicants from our research institutions and centers here in the Southeast as we start the process again early next year,” said Frank Hunt, SE bioStrategies, Inc. and BIO/Plan Co-Chair.
To learn more about the SEBIO BIO/Plan Competition, please visit
About Southeast BIO
Southeast BIO (SEBIO) is a regional nonprofit organization that fosters the growth of the life sciences industry in the Southeastern U.S. through efforts that promote entrepreneurship and bring together companies, investors, universities and support organizations active in the development of the industry. Today, the Southeast is recognized as one of the fastest growing life sciences regions in the U.S. and home to hundreds of life sciences companies. A public/private partnership formed in 1999, SEBIO is committed to conducting activities that create regional leverage and facilitate the common interests and goals of constituents in the life sciences industry. The geographic footprint of SEBIO presently includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. For more information on SEBIO, go to

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