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43North announces its 16 finalists

The 43North finals this year have a distinctively Boston flair.

A quarter of the 16 finalists announced Monday are from Boston, giving the city the most prominent role in the third round of the annual business plan competition.

Just one of the finalists – vaccine producer Abcombi Biosciences – is from Buffalo, joining three other downstate startups to round out the four finalists from New York. Two of finalists each are from San Francisco and Washington, D.C., while one is from Baltimore. The finalists include international entries from Canada, Serbia and Taiwan.

The finalists will compete for $5 million in prizes later this month, culminating in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch contest between the final three contestants on Oct. 27 in Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

The 43North finals this year will follow a different format than the contest has used in its first two years, and the group purposely limited its pool of applicants to try to weed out less-qualified entrants from the start.

William J. Maggio Jr., chairman of 43North, said he thinks the switch helped improve the quality of this year’s entrants. “I am tremendously pleased with the caliber of the 16 companies,” he said.

The contest will kick off Oct. 26 at the Atrium @ Rich’s in Buffalo, with all 16 finalists making pitches to a group of more than 30 venture capitalists, angel investors and entrepreneurs.

The field then will be narrowed down to 10 finalists that will make their pitch to a different panel of judges during the morning of Oct. 27 in Shea’s. Three of those 10 finalists will be brought back to make yet another pitch on the Shea’s stage that evening for either the $1 million grand prize, a $600,000 runner-up prize or one of six $500,000 prizes.

Unlike the first two years of the competition, when all of the finalists were guaranteed to win money, half of the 16 finalists will go home empty-handed, including two of the startups that survive the opening round and make it through to Thursday’s pitch sessions.

These are the finalists:

Abcombi Biosciences – A Buffalo firm trying to develop a “smart” vaccine for complex diseases such as pneumonia.

Andromium – A San Francisco software company whose app aims to make the Android operating system function like a desktop.

Arthena – A New York City startup that uses automated and data-driven results to invest in the most liquid segment of the art market.

Asarasi – A firm from Katonah, Westchester County, that has developed a way to harvest and bottle water from trees to replace the consumption of groundwater.

Bounce Imaging – A Boston company that makes 360-degree disposable cameras for first responders to use as they enter dangerous spaces to help identify hazards ahead.

CleanCapital – A Washington, D.C., startup that takes clean-energy financing and investments to a broader market.

Formarum – A Toronto company that has developed a turbine technology that could create self-powered and self-contained devices that can be installed in pipes and eliminate all external components, including control panels, electrical cables, and communication modules.

HigherMe – A Boston company that has developed software to help retail and hourly employers hire better employees faster.

MobioSense – A Taiwan company that has developed a computerized system to monitor patients with heart disease and potentially predict heart attacks.

NeoReach – A San Francisco startup that has developed a social media marketing platform to manage campaigns and track results.

Oncolinx – A Boston company working with the National Cancer Institute to develop targeted cancer immunotherapies, or antibody drug conjugates, that are planned to enter clinical trials in mid-2017.

PathoVax – A Baltimore startup that is commercializing RGVax, a low-cost vaccine to prevent HPV-associated cancers.

Strawberry Energy – A company from Belgrade, Serbia, that is developing solar-powered “Smart Benches” that can serve as Wi-Fi enabled social hubs in urban settings.

The Wealth Factory – A Washington, D.C., startup that produces financial literacy education technology games.

UltraCell Insulation – A Boston company that makes high-performance building insulation from recycled corrugated cardboard.

WeDidIt – A Brooklyn software service that aggregates donor data so nonprofits can automate their prospect research and launch highly targeted fundraising campaigns.


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