DURHAM – Twelve startups from Wilmington to Asheville are the finalists for the latest round of $50,000 grants from the NC IDEA Foundation.

The selections reflecting what the economic development group has already called its most geographically diverse group of applications.

The $50,000 grants are non-dilutive and are designed to “support business activities that validate target markets, reduce risk associated with early stage companies and help companies get to the point of suitability for growth; whether through investment or revenue,” according to NC IDEA.

“NC IDEA’s competitive NC IDEA SEED finalist pool continues to reflect the expansion of entrepreneurship across the state,” said Thom Ruhe,  CEO of NC IDEA. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of activity from areas outside of our major metropolitan regions, indicative of North Carolina’s growing innovation economy,”

The finalists:

NC IDEA has now awarded more than $5 million to 126 startups through 24 rounds of awards since the program launched in 2006.