DURHAM – The field of competitors for the 26th round of startup grants known as SEED is down to 11 finalists representing firms from Wilmington to Charlotte.

The NC IDEA Foundation announced the finalist list, selected from 24 semifinalists. Nearly 160 startups applied at the start of the process.

NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has selected 11 finalists from across the state in its 26th SEED grant cycle. The finalists were chosen from the 24 semi-finalists that had been selected out of 158 competitive applications.

The semifinalists are:

“This group of finalists is perhaps one of our most diverse for the types of organizations advancing. It defies a convenient generalization, which is great,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA. “I think it may be a reflection of our diverse and growing partners that are actively helping more (different) companies be competitive in the grant process,” Ruhe concluded.

Next step in the process is each finalist making a presentation to a review panel of investors, entrepreneurs and industry experts, according to NC IDEA.

Some five to seven winners will be announced in mid-November.