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Triad startup planning to raise $1M for manufacturing facility

JULY 14, 2015 - 2015 A startup based at the Gateway University Research Park in Greensboro is planning to raise $1 million from private investors to establish a plant that will produce a hockey-puck shaped bait that releases chemicals to attract lobsters and crabs.

Kepley Biosystems Inc. will likely begin raising the funds from private investors by the first quarter of next year, said Anthony L. Dellinger, president of the firm, which was founded in 2013. The facility could be located in Greensboro, but areas of rural southwest North Carolina and Virginia are also possibilities.

The facility is needed to produce Organobait, a product that not only allows commercial fisherman to use an alternative product to traditional dead fish bait but also reduces the unwanted capture of dolphins, turtles and other fish that often get stuck in nets. Organobait is currently being tested in areas such as Maine, Kitty Hawk, N.C., Florida, and Virginia.

Dellinger said the goal is to have the manufacturing facility up and running by 2018 or earlier. It could be located in an existing warehouse facility or a new building that would provide a combination of lab and office space. Kepley plans to eventually sell the bait at outdoor stores such as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.

"The bulk of the facility will consist of several lines to make the product," said Dellinger, who also is an adjunct professor at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, which is housed at the research park. "If and when the product becomes successful, we're going to be needing a lot of space."

Dellinger declined to disclose ingredients of Organobait because the patent is still pending.

"It's a very standard, traditional manufacturing process so we don't necessarily have to go automated with machines very early on," Dellinger said. "It can be made relatively simply and that's how we are doing it now. Obviously once we start to grow, the facility would have to get larger."

Wherever the manufacturing facility ends up, Kepley Biosystems will likely keep a presence at the research park, where it is a member of the joint school's Nanomanufacturing Innovation Consortium that provides companies like Kepley with access to state-of-the-art labs, equipment and clean rooms.

"I really wouldn't foresee me ever wanting to relinquish this opportunity with Gateway," he said. "Even if we move out of the area, I would still like to keep it just because of the stuff that's available here."

Separately from the $1 million needed for the manufacturing facility, Kepley Biosystems is applying for about $750,000 in "phase 2" funding from the National Science Foundation that would bring the company's total government funding to about $1 million.

Article written by Katie Arcieri, Reporter, Triad Business Journal

Photo credit: Kepley Biosystems