A unique public/private partnership that includes 11 Charlotte entrepreneurs, the Charlotte Regional Fund for Entrepreneurship (CRFE), City of Charlotte and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, raised more than $100,000 to help bring the Southeast Venture Conference (SEVC) back to the Queen City concurrently with the Digital Summit and the Charlotte Venture Challenge Tuesday through Thursday (March 31-April 2).

The Charlotte Venture Challenge (CVC) will showcase 30 finalists selected from over 112 startup competitors 28 from North Carolina, one from DC, and one from South Carolina Five will get a shot at participating during the SEVC in front of 100 potential investors, top national firms among them, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

Terry Cox, head of Charlotte’s Business, Industry and Growth Council (BIG), tells WRAL TechWire that the combination event, largest venture event ever held in Charlotte, came about when TechMedia’s Scott Hedrick suggested combining the SEVC with the event company’s Digital Summit.

“We were trying to make a bigger impact in terms of visibility and investment,” Cox said. “So I said, if we’re going to do that, why not add the Charlotte Venture Challenge and have one big conference rather than diluting the effect with separate conferences? We’ll get greater attendance and help put Charlotte on the map for these investors.”

So, she said, “This public/private partnership came together to create a $100,000 sponsorship. To me, it’s a statement of how hungry this region is for entrepreneurship. Eleven Charlotte entrepreneurs wrote checks.”

David Jones, board chairman of the CRFE, said in a statement, “We are a public-private partnership formed to help strengthen and showcase the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Charlotte region. With our commitment to sponsor all three events, combined with that of the Business Innovation and Growth Council (BIG) and committee of successful entrepreneurs, we helped secure the SEVC in Charlotte this year and collaborated to safeguard a concurrent schedule with CVC, benefiting all entrepreneurs and investors in the region.”

About 1,500 attendees are expected at the SEVC/Digital Summit, split between the two major events. The Charlotte Venture Challenge is open to the public but registration was required.

The 11 entrepreneurs who contributed to sponsoring the Charlotte Venture Challenge and combined SEVC/Digital Summit are: David Jones of Peak 10; Steve Amedio and Preston Fay of Technekes; Keith Luedeman, GoodMortgage.com; Bryan Delaneyand Andrew Gertig,Skookum; Dain Dulaney, Bishop Dulaney Joyner, ChrisHalligan, Quaero; Jeff Hay, WCSR; Kevin Bilderback, Bllue Dot Medical; Ryan Stone, SmartSky Networks/Jetpool; Sharai Lavoie, Lavoie CPAs; Thad Thoneburg, Medflow.

The 2015 Charlotte Venture Challenge finalists are listed below:

Competition categories are: General, Health IT & Biotechnology, IT & Informatics, New Energy & High Technology, and Student Ventures.

General – SnapYeti (Raleigh, NC), GuideOn (Whispering Pines, NC), GivStream (Simpsonville, SC), Halo Smart Labs (Charlotte, NC), Tiger Eye Sensor (Clayton, NC), FotoSwipe (Raleigh, NC)

Health IT and Biotechnology – dReiniger (Chapel Hill, NC), StethoBarrier (Carrboro, NC), Surgilum (Wilmington, NC), Magna Solutions (Boone, NC), Tarian Orthotics, (Mount Pleasant, SC)

IT and Informatics – Akili Software (Raleigh, NC), BountyMiner (Chapel Hill,NC), Quorum (Washington, DC), ShomoLive (Charlotte, NC), KWIPPED (Wilmington, NC), DYME (Charlotte, NC)

New Energy and High Technology – Verdante Bioenergy Services (Lenoir, NC) General Graphene (Oak Ridge, TN), EcoH20 Innovations (Charlotte, NC), Bluecell Energy, (Research Triangle Park, NC)

Student Ventures – SmartBrush (UNC Charlotte), The Citizen (Lenoir-Rhyne University), MYO’bility (Appalachian State University) TeacherLoop (NC State), RightOn (Pfeiffer University), Waterless Buddy’s, LLC (UNC Chapel Hill), CommuniGift (UNC Chapel Hill), SquaddD (Elon University), LoboStim (NC State)