WENATCHEE— The 2021 Flywheel Investment Conference on Thursday will feature a high-impact live competition to award one startup company up to $200,000 in investment awards, as well as dynamic speakers and panel discussions.

The annual conference generates exposure and resources for early stage companies by bringing entrepreneurs, investors and community members together. The conference is organized by the NCW Tech Alliance, formerly known as GWATA, and hosted in partnership with the Flywheel Angel Network, a group of investors who have an affinity for North Central Washington and a desire to support long-term economic development.

This year’s conference saw 50 companies from across the state apply for the chance to compete. The Flywheel Angel Network selected the six finalist companies that will compete live during the conference: Cognition Med, Wenatchee; Fuchsia Shoes, Kirkland; Iasis Molecular Sciences, Spokane; Motis, Seattle; PetHub, Wenatchee; SyncFloor, Seattle.

This year’s Flywheel Conference is a hybrid event, with in-person attendance limited to speakers, presenters and investors due to COVID restrictions. The conference will be streamed online from 12 to 3:30 p.m., allowing for public attendance to tune in from anywhere in the world. Online tickets are available at flywheelconference.com.

The guest-speaker lineup includes:

  • Dave Parker, DKParker, LLC: He is a five-time founder, entrepreneur and professional board member for tech growth companies. He volunteers as lead coordinator of Seattle’s Startup Week.
  • Max Martina, Cambridge Leadership Associates: He has nearly two decades worth of corporate management and start-up business experience. His leadership development engagements span public and private sectors.
  • Minda Brusse, First Row Partners: She has spent her career as a co-founder or catalyst across four tech startups and one social change organization. She is managing director for First Row Partners, an early-stage venture investment firm based in Seattle.
  • Brian Vierra, EDCO: He is the venture catalyst for EDCO, an economic development organization in Central Oregon. He works closely with early-stage companies to connect them with capital, advisers, mentors and other resources.
  • Cyndi Donahue, Ignite Northwest: She is a collaborator who specializes in strategic partnerships and community development. She joined Ignite Northwest, a consulting firm that funds, enlightens and mentors explosively growing companies.
  • James Dorsey, College Success Foundation: He is president of a national educational organization dedicated to eliminating the opportunity gap for underserved first-generation, low-income students.
  • Martha Montoya, Agtools: She has worked more than 25 years in the ag industry in the US and overseas. Her family’s business offers real-time intelligence to farmers and buyers across the full supply chain.
  • Virginia Emery, Beta Hatch: She is founder of a pioneering insect farming company that industrializes insects for productive use in agriculture. Beta Hatch is a past winner of the Flywheel investment competition.
  • Lisa J. Brown, state Department of Commerce: An economist, she has served as state Commerce director since early 2019. She represented the Spokane area in the state House from 1993-1996 then went on to the state senate where she became majority leader and served until 2013.

Jenny Rojanasthien is executive director of NCW Tech Alliance. The group has served as the region’s sole technology alliance since 1999, championing growth and development in North Central Washington. For more information visit gwata.org.