43North has narrowed the field of contenders for the next edition of the $5 million competition.
Judges for the startup contest reviewed 485 applicants and reduced the list to 185 semi-finalists, meaning 38 percent of them advanced to the next round.
There are more cuts to come: The semifinalists will make live video pitches that will be reviewed by a panel of more than 40 volunteer judges this month, 43North said. As many as 20 of those applicants will advance to the Oct. 3 finals at Shea's Performing Arts Center.
The first-place winner will get $1 million. And 43North has decided to present seven runner-up awards of $500,000 each, instead of six as initially planned. The competition added the seventh runner-up prize in light of the caliber of the applicants, their "evidence of traction" and plans for growing their operations in Buffalo, said Alex Gress, 43North's president.
At the end of 2019, the 2018 award winners will be eligible to split $500,000 in follow-on funding, instead of $1 million as originally planned.