Each week, we’ll round up startup news from the UNC journalism students behind North Carolina Business News Wire. To read all of the students’ work covering public and private companies around the state, sign up for the daily newsletter.

Biotech Fennec Pharmaceuticals raises $7.6 million

By Chris Roush

Biotech company Fennec Pharmaceuticals Inc. has raised $7.6 million in a private equity offering, according to a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The money came from seven investors who purchased 1.9 million shares at $4 per share, according to the filing.

Essetifin SpA, which owned 2.6 million shares, or 19.2 percent, of Fennec prior to the offering, purchased an additional 300,000 shares and now owns more than 21 percent of the Durham-based company.

Fennec said it will use the money to develop one of its drugs and for general corporate purposes.

“The investment and support received by both existing and new investors, including venBio Select Advisor, significantly strengthens the company’s balance sheet,” said CEO Rosty Raykov in a statement.

Fennec Pharmaceuticals is a small stage biotechnology company focused on the development of sodium thiosulfate for the prevention of loss of hearing in pediatric cancer patients.

Children undergoing chemotherapy face the loss of hearing. Fennec Pharma hopes that sodium thiosulfate will allow these children to keep their hearing and prevent permanent disability.

The drug has received orphan drug designation, which means it is intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases and disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.

Last month, a New York-based investment firm purchased a 5 percent stake in the company, stating that it felt the stock was “undervalued.”

Fennec’s publicly traded shares rose 23 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $4.42 on Thursday.

Companies relying on a Reg D exemption do not have to register their offering of securities with the SEC, but they must file what’s known as a Form D electronically after they first sell their securities.

Raleigh-based WasteZero raises $1.5 million from investors

By Chris Roush

A Raleigh-based company that helps reduce waste being sent to landfills and increase recycling has raised $1.5 million in a private equity raise, according to a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

WasteZero Inc. raised the money from 17 investors, according to the filing.

The company had raised $3.3 million in 2016 for working capital and another $7 million in 2015, according to SEC filings.

The company was founded in 1991 and now works with more than 800 cities, towns and counties to reduce their volumes of municipal solid waste and increase recycling rates.

It designs, implements and runs pay-as-you-throw programs, which it calls WasteZero Trash Metering programs. Instead of paying a flat fee for waste disposal, consumers are charged based on the amount of trash they throw away.

Consumers who throw away more pay more. Those who throw away less — and recycle more — pay less.

Mark Dancy is the president of WasteZero. Prior to becoming president, he was WasteZero’s vice president of sales and marketing as well as the manager of manufacturing. In May 2012, the South Carolina Department of Commerce recognized Dancy as a South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development.

Companies relying on a Reg D exemption do not have to register their offering of securities with the SEC, but they must file what’s known as a Form D electronically after they first sell their securities.

Durham-based StrideBio raises $1 million

By Chris Roush

A Durham-based biotech company working on gene therapy has raised $1 million in a private debt and option offering, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

StrideBio Inc. raised the money from three investors, according to the filing, with the smallest investment totaling $90,000.

StrideBio develops engineered viral vectors for gene therapy. StrideBio’s technology engine utilizes structure-inspired design to engineer AAV vectors that can escape pre-existing neutralizing antibodies.

In April, the company announced it had struck a deal with Crispr Therapeutics to develop in vivo gene delivery applications. As part of the deal, StrideBio will receive development funding, milestones and royalties on licensed vectors, and retain certain rights to use the novel AAV vectors for gene therapy applications.

The technology is based on the work of Dr. Aravind Asokan at UNC-Chapel Hill and Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna at the University of Florida.

Asokan leads the Laboratory for Synthetic Virology & Gene Therapy at UNC-Chapel Hill. Originally trained as a chemist, he has blended the fields of protein engineering, virology and genetics to generate several gene therapy platforms currently being evaluated in preclinical and clinical studies.

He is the lead inventor on several AAV patents licensed to multiple gene therapy companies. Asokan is an associate professor in the departments of genetics and biochemistry & biophysics at UNC-CH.

The company has received capital from Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Durham with a focus on seed and early stage healthcare investing.

Companies relying on a Reg D exemption do not have to register their offering of securities with the SEC, but they must file what’s known as a Form D electronically after they first sell their securities.

Product Recovery Technology raises another $1.17 million

By Chris Roush

Product Recovery Technology International Inc., which breaks down used rubber products, raised $1.17 million in a private equity offering last week, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The Franklinton-based private company had raised $1.3 million back in March. In the latest offering, 21 investors bought a stake in the company.

“Other than the payment of salaries and other compensation and benefits, no officer, director or promoter will receive any payments from the proceeds of this offering,” said the company in the filing.

Jason Williams, chief executive officer of PRTI, founded Urgent Cares of America in 2001, where he served as president and CEO until 2010.

PRTI was founded in 2013 and has one facility in Franklinton. The company’s patented rubber depolymerization system fractionalizes rubber and tire waste into syngas, steel, oil and carbon products.

The company has partnered with Raleigh-based Causam Energy to use its EnergyNet software to sell its distributed energy back to the power grid through local utilities across North America.

Companies relying on a Reg D exemption do not have to register their offering of securities with the SEC, but they must file what’s known as a Form D electronically after they first sell their securities.