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Startups selected to compete at eMerge Americas

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

More than 100 startups have been selected to participate in this year’s eMerge Americas Startup Showcase, where the young companies will exhibit their products and services at April’s homegrown technology conference and possibly have the opportunity to present on center stage for a $175,000 investment prize.

The Startup Showcase is a cornerstone of eMerge Americas, launched by Terremark founder Manny Medina and now in its third year, which includes keynote speakers, company and country exhibits, contests, a hiring fair, fashion show and networking opportunities. eMerge said 10,000 people attended its two-day conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center and affiliated events last year. This year the conference will be April 18-19.

The Startup Showcase, which includes three tracks – early-stage, late stage and university – is also in its third year with past winners including Modernizing Medicine, Hair Construction, Symptify and VSN Mobil. This year attracted far more applicants from the universities, said Xavier Gonzalez, CEO of eMerge Americas. “The finalists in the Startup Showcase truly exemplify what the program is all about, uncovering world-class companies that are bringing to market innovative and disruptive technologies,” he said.

For the first time, the program will be presented by Grupo Arcano, an international private equity firm with offices in Santiago, Miami, London, and Sydney that has backed Uber, Snapchat, Square and Miami-based Open English, among others. “Grupo Arcano participated as a judge last year and we were impressed with the quality and diversity of the startup companies that participated from around the world,” said Alberto Chang-Rajii, president and founder of Grupo Arcano.

The Showcase includes startups from 15 countries, but in a sign of South Florida’s growing startup scene, about half of the companies in the Showcase this year are from Florida, and most from South Florida. Similar to last year, 25 companies will advance in the contest and present on the center stage at eMerge on Tuesday in front of panels of investors for a share of the prize – $100,000 to the later-stage winner, $50,000 to the early-stage winner and $25,000 to the university winner, which will be in the form of an investment from the judges themselves.

The presentations will take place Tuesday, along with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s competition for high school students, and presentations by finalists in the eMerge hackathon taking place just before the conference, Gonzalez said.

For a list of companies selected for the Showcase, see http://emergeamericas.org/startups.