Women Who Tech, a national nonprofit working to break down barriers to women in the tech and startup industry, in partnership with Craig Newmark, announced the 10 finalists selected for its fourth Women Startup Challenge pitch competition, a nationwide contest that will focus on showcasing and funding women-led startups working in the areas of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
According to the official press release, the competition is co-sponsored by startup investors Fred and Joanne Wilson, and will award $50,000 as a cash grant, and $35,000 in pro bono legal services by global law firm Paul Hastings, LLP, among other startup friendly services.
"We received close to 200 entries from women-led startups who are at the forefront of VR and AI. These ventures are building virtual limbs, self-driving non-automotive vehicles, 3-D immersive cameras, drone technologies and wearable tech for gaming. It's vitally important that women and their companies get properly supported so that their perspective on these life changing products is brought to market," Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech said in a statement.
On Feb. 15, the finalists will appear at Google's New York campus in Chelsea. One grand prize winner will be selected in a "shark-tank-style" competition.
The judges panel will include investors Kate Shillo, director of Galvanize Ventures; Kai Bond, principal of Comcast Ventures; and Lisa Stone, entrepreneur and Co-founder of Blog Her.
"The creativity and accomplishment of a lot of women in this highly technical field is impressive," Craigslist founder Newmark said in a statement. "The startup challenge is about matching opportunity with talent. It's about opening doors. We can't make that happen fast enough."
Women Startup Challenge Finalists (as described on the Women Who Tech Website):
Addicaid – A digital addiction wellness platform for individuals with substance and process disorders. Addicaid also provides resources for friends and family coping with loved ones in care. (Sam Frons)Breinify – The first time-driven, predictive AI engine for uncovering unique and actionable user behavior insights. (Diane Keng)
Didimo – Automatically creates 3D virtual characters from a single photo; in about two minutes you have a lifelike avatar that can speak, move, and represent you in a 3D world. (Verónica Costa Orvalho)Droice Labs – Artificial intelligence startup in the healthcare space using cutting-edge machine learning to help hospitals achieve better patient outcomes. (Tasha Nagamine)
Hauoli LLC – Revolutionizing how users interact with the world, Hauoli is developing patent-pending, high-precision acoustic-based motion tracking technology. (Lili Qiu)
Hitlist – An intelligent assistant that monitors flight and accommodation prices for trips you want to take, then alerts you when prices drop. (Gillian Morris)
Intelligent Space – Developing artificial intelligence for space applications by leveraging autonomous robotics to restructure space for satellite safety from orbital debris, starting with a space towing system moving dead satellites to a graveyard zone. (Christianna Taylor, PhD)
Opaque Studios – Building VR-based tools for Hollywood studios; combining Virtual Reality and Virtual Production; allowing content creators to produce feature films, TV shows, games and VR applications more efficiently than ever before. (Mariana Acuña )
Spirit AI – Developing tools to craft more expressive characters, stories, and worlds in games and VR; players can communicate naturally with characters, be deeply understood, and have unique conversations. (Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris)
Venti Technologies – Building non-automotive autonomous vehicles such as wheelchairs, golf carts, tractors, scooters, and shuttles to give freedom and mobility to tens of millions of seniors and mobility-impaired people, and provide life-enhancing, cost-effective, transportation for everyone. (Heidi Wyle)
This marks the fourth Women Startup Challenge since June of 2015.
Seating is on a first come, first served basis and RSVPs do not guarantee entry. Tickets are non-transferable.
[Featured Image by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]