Technology consulting firms Queen Associates and NouvEON Technology Partners walked away with the emerging company honors at the Blue Diamond Awards in Charlotte on Thursday night.

“It’s amazing the progress service companies are making,” said Jill Purdy, the public relations executive working with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s Information Technology Council to promote the 17th annual event, which drew a crowd estimated at 500 people. “What is making them successful is that they are focused on niches.”

Queen Associates, founded by Charlotte entrepreneur and information technology executive Frances Queen, received the Blue Diamond award for “Top Growth”. The firm stresses intelligence, innovation and ideas. Queen is a former executive with Broadway and Seymour and Contract Data Services. She also helped Business Control Systems win a Blue Diamond Award in 1999 for significant growth.

NouvEON Technology Partners received the “Diamond in the Rough” award.

Other winners included:

Corporate:

Best Use of IT: The Compass Group/Canteen’s CVM System

Best Use of IT for Customer Service: UNC Charlotte’s Student Portal

Traditional:

Best Use of IT: Metalogix’s Colfax Pump Group Project

Best IT Product: Companion Cabinet’s Companion Cabinet Software

Best Use of IT for Customer Service: The Revere Group’s Integrated Data Store

Project Management: TIAA-CREF’s Charlotte Data Center Migration

The North Highland Group, another consulting firm and a longtime supporter of the Diamond awards, received the Joanna R. Baker Community Leadership Award.

The Neel Award for lifetime achievements, which is named after former UNC Charlotte business school dean Richard Neel, went to Mirsad Hadzikadic. He has been part of the UNC Charlotte faculty since 1987and is now dean of the College of Information Technology at UNCC.

More than 20 judges from a variety of small and large firms and academia picked the winners.