Thursday night was graduation central in Raleigh as thousands of high school seniors received diplomas at various ceremonies, but another salute also drew attention downtown.

A salute to entrepreneurial companies that appear to be well on their way to financial success.

CED and the Edward Lowe Foundation honored the 25 recipients of the third annual North Carolina Companies to Watch award Thursday night with a crowd of over 250 people in attendance.

The award honors growth oriented, second-stage companies headquartered in North Carolina that demonstrate high performance in their market, exhibit innovative products, and display other unique qualities that make them “worth watching.”

The recipients collectively added jobs at an annual rate of 35 percent between 2008 and 2011, totaling 936 new jobs, and grew revenue by an annual rate of 41 percent during the same period, totaling $191 million in revenue, according to CED and the Lowe Foundation, which sponsors the program.

“These 25 companies collectively tell the story of how North Carolina is growing jobs and revenue through innovation,” said Joan Siefert Rose, CED president. “We are pleased that the winners represent a wide range of the state’s regions and industry sectors. Each company is unique and we will be sharing the stories of their success at the awards ceremony.”

The 2012 North Carolina Companies to Watch:

  • 6Fusion (Raleigh)
  • ACF Technologies, Inc. (Asheville)
  • Advanced Liquid Logic, Inc. (Research Triangle Park)
  • Amidon Contracting Solutions, Inc. (Youngsville)
  • Argand Energy Solutions (Charlotte)
  • Argyle Social (Durham)
  • Automated Insights, Inc. (Durham)
  • Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Inc. (Moravian Falls)
  • Combat Medical Systems (Fayetteville)
  • d-Wise Technologies (Raleigh)
  • EvoApp (Durham)
  • Infina Connect Healthcare Systems, Inc. (Cary)
  • Intelligent Access Systems (Garner)
  • Mariner Container, LLC (Granite Falls)
  • Mother Earth Brewing (Kinston)
  • Netsertive, Inc. (Research Triangle Park)
  • PharPoint Research, Inc. (Durham)
  • Prometheus Group (Raleigh)
  • Relevance, Inc. (Durham)
  • Smarter Systems (Charlotte)
  • Southern Fasteners and Supply, Inc. (Winston-Salem)
  • The Mother Earth Group, Inc. (Charlotte)
  • Valencell, Inc. (Raleigh)
  • XS, Inc. (Morrisville)
  • Zift Solutions, Inc. (Durham)

The winners were selected from more than 200 nominees.

To qualify, companies must meet the following stipulations:

  • Be privately held (not publicly traded and not a subsidiary or division of another company).
  • Be a commercial enterprise, not a nonprofit.
  • Be past the startup stage.
  • Be facing issues of growth, not survival.
  • Employ 6 to 99 full-time equivalent W-2 employees, including the owner.
  • Have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants.
  • Be headquartered in North Carolina.
  • Have not won this award in the past.

Plus demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on evidence such as:


  • Employee or sales growth
  • Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership
  • Sustainable competitive advantage
  • Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success