Bulletin staff report

Five Central Oregon start-ups made the cut to become Early Stage finalists to make funding pitches at the Bend Venture Conference Oct. 20 in Bend, Economic Development for Central Oregon announced Friday.

To qualify for the Early Stage competition, companies must have an idea and be close to proof of concept. They may not yet be earning revenue but may be testing their products in the market. The winner receives a $17,500 cash grant, courtesy of BendBroadband Business.

The five Early Stage finalists are:

• BladeRunner Energy, a micro-hydro technology based on biomimicry that harnesses renewable energy from the natural flow of water.

• Mission Limelight, which empowers nonprofits and commercial enterprises to maximize their marketing, fundraising and social impact.

• Tribe Pilot, a social tool to plan outdoor adventure.

• Voilà, which delivers specialty instant coffee from top U.S. roasters.

• Wildish, a maker of outdoor gear.

Hosted by EDCO, this year’s Bend Venture Conference will once again feature three competition categories: Growth Stage, Early Stage and Social Impact. Last year, nearly $4 million in funding was awarded to 10 companies.