Dan Miner | Buffalo Business First

A high-profile panel of judges from companies around the U.S. will be determining which 43North finalists end up in the money.

The finals events this year will be emceed by Luke Russert, who was a correspondent for NBC News for eight years until he left this July. Russert’s father, Tim, was a Buffalo native and famous for his role as moderator of Meet the Press. (Click the slideshow below for more information on the 16 finalist companies this year).

The state-funded business competition has identified 18 startup companies as finalists, and will whittle that list to nine prize winners during events later this month. This year includes a $1 million grand prize, a $600,000 runner-up and six $500,000 prizes.

This is the third year of 43North, which requires winners to establish an operation in Buffalo for at least one year. The finals judges this year include:

Soraya Darabi, co-founder of fashion brand Zady.

Thomas Lynch, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who co-leads its prime services sales team.

John MacMahon, founder and CEO of V2K Medical, a medical device company.

Ambarish Mitra, founder and CEO of Blippar, a visual discovery browser and augmented reality app.

Erik Moore, founder and managing director at Base Ventures, which invests in early-stage technology companies.

Matthew Ryan, global chief strategy officer at Starbucks.

Tracy Valorie, senior vice president and general manager of Bausch + Lomb Rx.

The judges will preside over two events Oct. 27, both of which will take place at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. They include a finals award round from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in which 10 finalists will pitch. A finals million dollar round and awards celebration will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., during which three finalists will pitch on stage to compete for the $1 million grand prize and $600,000 runner-up.

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