Encapsio and Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies – Winners of The Big Launch Challenge

Danville, VA (September 21, 2016) – Encapsio, producer of revolutionary silicone microspheres for the encapsulation and delivery of active ingredients in product formulation, took home the top prize of $20,000 for first place. Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies, Inc., developer of safe cell and particle separation research tool and medical device, was awarded $10,000 for second place.

This year’s challenge featured a total of three elimination rounds with the final pitch event held at the Research Triangle Park Headquarters. Over thirty companies applied to the challenge where the six finalists presented to a live audience and panel of judges.

“Based on the number of inquiries, The Big Launch Challenge has become a highly anticipated event in the region,” said Eva Doss, President and CEO of The Launch Place. “Not only does the competition provide entrepreneurs with prize money, but it also serves as a platform for them to learn about The Launch Place’s entrepreneurship services and investment opportunities in Danville, Virginia.”


Encapsio produces premium silicone microspheres for the encapsulation, protection, and delivery of active ingredients in product formulations. Unlike other technologies, our proprietary method allows for the production of spheres that can not only effectively deliver compounds, but improve the aesthetics of the product, are cost effective, and scalable. Due to our ability to encapsulate and deliver a variety of compounds, our spheres have applications in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to agrochemicals, but we are currently focused on topical applications for skin care. Our first product is a retinol-encapsulated microsphere that we will supply to cosmetic brands and cosmetic ingredient distributors.

Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies

Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies, Inc. is a research spin-off from the Pennsylvania State University formed in 2012. The mission is to develop gentle and safe cell and particle separation research tool and medical device. The company motto is Innovation for Impact. Our passion is to commercialize world leading acoustofluidics technologies to advance research, enhance health and improve life quality. The current focus is to develop blood component separation system for transfusion and cellular therapies. Our blood processing system and disposable processing kits are based on patented acoustofluidic technologies.

The challenge, in its third year, is an annual event and offers startups valuable business networking and capital opportunities, as well as critical resources. The goal of The Big Launch Challenge is to foster entrepreneurship by offering education, team creation, mentorship, early-stage prototyping, and potential follow-on seed financing.

“We are excited to be working again with The Launch Place on The Big Launch Challenge,” said Andy Schwab, President of First Flight Venture Center. “This event brings together talented entrepreneurs and start-ups, all in an effort to help find good ideas and build sustainable businesses.”

Company Contacts


Wes Day – [email protected]

Acsent Bio-Nano Technologies

Lin Wang – [email protected]

About The Launch Place:

The Launch Place, from a $10 million grant received from the Danville Regional Foundation in 2012, assists with entrepreneurship and business development, and job creation and retention through its business consulting, mentoring and training, residential and office subsidies, and two seed investment funds in the Dan River region of Virginia.


About First Flight Venture Center:

Founded in 1991, First Flight Venture Center was created to foster innovation and grow sustainable companies. Today, First Flight is one of the nation’s largest and most stable incubators, playing host to more than 37 high-science, high-impact annually. In total, First Flight company startups number 267 and growing. Several of the most notable graduates include United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR), SciQuest (NASDAQ: SQI) Athenix (acquired by Bayer, NASDAQ: BAYRY), Advanced Liquid Logic (acquired by Illumina, NASDAQ: ILMN), Bloodhound Technologies (acquired by Verisk), Ganymede Software (acquired by NETIQ IPO) and Exam Design (acquired by Person PLC, NASDAQ: PSO).



Ascent with the judges, L-R Ken Ferris, Judge; Marty Kaszubowski, Judge; Jan Davis, Judge; Lin Wang, Ascent Bio; Andy Schwab, Judge; and Wiley Becker, Judge


Encapsio with the judges, L-R Marty Kaszubowski, Judge; Wes Day, Encapsio; Nick Kirby, Encapsio; Jan Davis, Judge; Ken Ferris, Judge; Andy Schwab, Judge; and Wiley Becker, Judge