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Raleigh-Durham Roundup: Heat Biologics, nCino, Scioderm, & More

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Here are the week’s top stories in North Carolina tech and biotech (not college basketball) news:

—Cancer immunotherapy company Heat Biologics (NASDAQ: HTBX) closed a stock offering that raised $12.2 million, which the Durham, NC, company plans to use for research and development, clinical trials, and other corporate expenses. Heat is currently in mid-stage clinical trials with experimental immunotherapies in non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer.

Heat also said goodbye to its top financial executive. When Heat initially announced plans for the stock sale, the company disclosed that CFO Matthew Czajkowski would be leaving this month for an executive post with an organization working to provide safe and affordable drinking water in East Africa.

—Banking software startup nCino expanded its recent $29 million Series B round by adding the investment arm of Salesforce Inc. (NYSE: CRM as an investor. Wilmington, NC-based nCino disclosed no financial terms for the Salesforce Ventures investment. But a securities filing shows that nCino’s $29 million round could go up to $37 million.

NCino’s cloud-based software ties together a bank’s different transactional systems and provides tools and analytics that can help make operations more efficient. When nCino announced its Series B round last month, the company said it planned to use the capital for expanding its customer base and adding mobile capabilities to its software.

—-Scioderm is now enrolling patients in a late-stage clinical trial studying a drug treating the rare skin ailment epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic disorder that results in fragile skin and chronic wounds. The Scioderm drug, a topical cream containing the active ingredient allantoin (Zorblisa), was developed to accelerate wound healing.

Durham-based Scioderm had hoped to be able to file for accelerated approval based on the healing results shown in a Phase 2b study completed last year. But Robert Ryan, Scioderm’s CEO, says that the FDA wants to see more data from more patients and asked the company to conduct a Phase 3 clinical trial. The placebo-controlled study will enroll 138 patients in the United States and Europe. If enrollment is complete this summer, Ryan says Scioderm should have preliminary data to report later this year. Scioderm closed a $20 million Series B round last December that Ryan says will finance the company through filing for approval of the drug in the United States and in Europe.

— The “Rise of the Rest” bus tour, highlighting startup communities throughout the country, will make a stop in North Carolina’s Research Triangle on the tour’s swing through the South. The tour is scheduled to arrive in Durham on May 5.

The Rise of the Rest, led by AOL co-founder Steve Case and his venture capital firm Revolution, will also visit Richmond, VA; Charleston, SC; Atlanta; and New Orleans on the tour’s southern leg. The tour will include visits with local startups, accelerators, and incubators, as well as a pitch competition in which one company can win a $100,000 investment. Last fall, the Rise of the Rest tour visited Xconomy cities Detroit and Madison, WI.

The Launch Place, a business consultancy and early-stage investor with locations in Danville, VA, and Research Triangle Park, NC, is accepting applications for a startup competition that will award up to $20,000 for first place and up to $10,000 for second place.

The “Big Launch Challenge” is open to startups in nanotechnology, green technology, alternative energy, advanced materials, medical devices, and IT. But companies entering the competition must employ fewer than 10 workers and also have a physical product to develop. The competition is scheduled for May 19 at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.