WINSTON-The field in the Triad Entrepreneurial Initiative’s “FUEL” competition, which offers $80,000 in prizes and services to the top three firms, is down to six finalists.

The winners will be disclosed on July 17.
The six are:

  • Down-The-Line Concepts, Greensboro
  • Solatech, LLC, High Point
  • SourceHorizon, Greensboro
  • EcoGenomix, Greensboro
  • Squirrel Defense Initiative
  •, Oakridge
  • EcoGenomix would appear to be the front-runner, having already been awarded $10,000 in an earlier competition this year called VERGE. Squirrel Defense Initiative received $2,000 in the same event. The first round, held last year, was called SPARK.

    TEI was formed in October 2001 with the support of the Winston-Salem Alliance and Action Greensboro.

    “The unique aspect of these finalists is the variety of industries and business concepts that are represented,” said Sheila Lyons, TEI Executive Director, in a statement. “To stimulate the economy we have to draw on and enhance the various business characteristics and strengths of our area because entrepreneurs need those Piedmont Triad resources to grow their ideas into high-growth companies. A single focus for TEI and economic development may work for some communities, but the rich business heritage of our area suggests that success is more likely to come from a number of business concepts similar to the variety represented in the plans of the six finalists.”

    The first place winner gets $50,000; second place receives $20,000; third place gets $10,000. Each of the finalists also receives at least mentoring services from TEI and up to 12 months space in a startup incubator at no costs.

    Winners will be announced at at awards ceremony in Greensboro at the American Express Service Center on July 17.

    Here’s a look at each finalist as provided by TEI:

    Down-The Line Concepts, Inc.: DTLC was founded to develop, manufacture, and market a revolutionary new putting technique and putter. The fundamental purpose of DTLC is to provide products and services of such quality that customers will receive outstanding value, employees and business partners will share in the success and investors will experience a sustained, superior return on their investment. The long-term goal is for Down-The-Line putting to become the preferred style of putting and for DTLC to be the recognized leader in the industry.

    Solatech, LLC: Solatech is a software development firm specializing in the development of a highly customizable suite of software applications designed for industries comprised of custom made products. The Solatech software products currently are focused on the custom window covering industry. Its products provide point of sale, business management tools and manufacturing control to a highly competitive, complicated and traditionally non-technical industry. Solatech’s business model is to continue to supply desktop software to the retail and fabrication segments of the industry while creating an Internet based communication process between these two segments.

    This process will improve efficiency, reduce labor, minimize mistakes and expedite the entire order process, all while generating a recurring revenue stream for Solatech.

    Source Horizon: Founded in 2002, SourceHorizon is committed to create innovative and affordable solutions to help custom manufacturers increase visibility and market penetration. SourceHorizon is developing a web-based platform to enable the buyers of made-to-order parts to quickly identify, qualify and collaborate with suppliers during the outsourcing process. Both the buyers and the suppliers, from the single, small shop to the large multi-site client, will realize an immediate return on investment and enjoy a world class web environment that is user friendly, requiring no downloads or installations.

    EcoGenomix, Inc.: EcoGenomix, a biotechnology spin-off company from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is focused on the development and commercialization of systems that can rapidly and accurately detect the presence of biological and chemical terrorist agents in the environment (water, air, soil and physical surfaces). The company has already developed a specific and sensitive detection system to rapidly identify the presence of biological threats, tests for Anthrax and smallpox have already been developed and are progressing to commercialization. Also in development are detection systems for bio-terrorist agents in water supplies and air. In collaboration with UNCG scientists, EcoGenomix is developing a device to test monitor the safety of water supplies. The product is called the WaterChip and it represents a revolutionary approach to water surveillance in its detection of both anticipated and unanticipated biological and chemical contamination.

    Squirrel Defense Initiative: Squirrel Defense Initiative was founded in 1997 to commercialize its unique award winning bird feeder, “The Solar Feeder.” The product uses an electric stimulus in combination with a solar cell to deter squirrels from feeding. legally provides discounted cigarettes to smokers who live in states with unusually high prices. CRS receives orders online and via toll free phone, toll free fax and mail.