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Chapel Hill startups represent in D.C.

Two Chapel Hill-based startups — EpiCypher and Renovion — attended the first University Startups Demo Day in Washington, D.C.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., September 22, 2016


Two Chapel Hill-based startups — EpiCypher and Renovion — attended the first University Startups Demo Day in Washington, D.C.


On Tuesday, the companies attended the event — sponsored by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer — along with 33 other startups from universities. At the demo day, members of the startups met with their respective members of Congress.


Sam Tetlow, CEO of EpiCypher, said the company began in January of 2012. Tetlow said the company’s goal is to advance the science of epigenetics and to save lives. He said their products help researchers figure out if a medicine is going to work very early in the process.

“So every time we ship a product we save 0.42 of a person’s life,” Tetlow said.


Tetlow said the startup has been so successful because of its very experienced management team, the great science and products, and the way in which the field of epigenetics is growing.


“When you add all those things together you get an opportunity to really have an impact,” Tetlow said.


Brian Strahl, the vice chairperson of the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UNC, is one of the three scientific founders of EpiCypher. Tetlow said EpiCypher has a license through UNC for part of their technology, and KickStart Venture Services nominated EpiCypher for Startup Day.


“It is a great recognition for the team that has worked so hard and it means a lot coming from the United States Congress,” he said.


Renovion, a pre-clinical stage pharmaceutical company, also based out of Chapel Hill, was started in 2013. Dan Copeland, CEO of Renovion, said the company wants to focus on lung transplant therapy because lung transplants have some of the highest mortality rates among common organ transplant procedures.


“Our focus today is to be the first drug to be FDA approved for lung transplant patients,” Copeland said.


Carolyn Durham, chief operations officer and one of the founders, said the initial stages of starting Renovion were getting a patent and finding leadership.


“As one of the founders it has been super exciting to get Dan on board and the Board on board and really move into lung transplant patients very quickly and really see a difference in improving the outcomes for them,” Durham said.


Copeland said part of the conference during the demo day is spent talking to legislators, but the other big part is talking to potential investors.


Renovion, like EpiCypher, also learned about University Startup Demo Day through UNC. Copeland said they have received a few grants from UNC.


“For us, we love the idea, there is a great story here around how public universities can create great therapies, so that is the long term big picture...” he said.


Article by: Emily Wakeman

Publication: Daily Tarheel

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