A sold-out crowd and a diverse group of finalists will gather at NC TECH’s signature Awards Gala event this week in representation of North Carolina’s thriving technology sector.

With a total of 800 attendees, this year’s audience is the largest in the history of the NC TECH Awards. The guest list is comprised of corporate executives, entrepreneurs and startup teams, attorneys, consultants, university faculty and department heads, bank representatives, and leaders of local business networks and nonprofits.

The program, taking place Thursday evening at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, recognizes companies and individuals who are leading the growth of North Carolina’s tech economy.

Categories for the individual winners span several types of positions—information security, public and private sector CIOs, tech woman of the year, tech educator, tech executive of the year and public leader of the year. NC TECH’s pick for the Beacon Award for outstanding achievement is Bob Young, co-founder and former CEO of Red Hat.

Corporate finalists were selected for their growth, innovation and use of technology under several subcategories, including mid-sized and large companies of the year, innovative product, corporate impact, innovative workplace, business value, and other categories.

In recognition of North Carolina’s startup community, NC TECH’s “Top 10 Startups to Watch” winners were picked for their innovative solutions in blockchain, AI, health, marketing, IT, customer analytics and sales. Six startups in the list are headquartered in the Triangle—HearFUL, Diveplane Corporation, Map My Customers, myBeeHyve, VitalFlo and Constellation Digital Partners. The remaining four are based in other key tech regions in North Carolina—Greensboro-based HaystackCRM and Dais X, Winston-Salem’s Fluree and Charlotte-based ROVE.

For more details on the individual winners and corporate finalists, see our coverage here:

The annual NC TECH Awards, now running for over 20 years, solicits applications for nominees each summer. The opportunity is open to anyone, not just NC TECH members.

Hundreds of applications are received from all over the state, and each undergo a two-step independent review from Cherry Bekaert, the second largest accounting firm based in the Southeast.

The final selection committee is made up of key figures leading North Carolina’s tech community from the mountains to the coast. Members of the committee hail from RIoT, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte nonprofit Apparo, UNC Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Wake County Economic Development, Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs (WALE), River Cities Capital Funds, Venture Asheville, Caldwell County Economic Development and the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce.

NC TECH President and CEO Brooks Raiford says that although corporate finalists are announced publicly in advance of the gala, winners are not revealed until the live program, “which makes for an exciting event since the winners are not alerted in advance either.”

“The finalists this year reflect a broad array of organizations (companies, nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, etc.) of all types and sizes and from all regions, which speaks to the vibrant and growing tech sector in North Carolina,” Raiford adds.