Product of the Year judging

Lisa Bruinooge King, who co-chairs the committee for the NH Tech Alliance's Product of the Year, takes a selfie with the judging panel and volunteers at Cross Insurance in Manchester during the first round of judging on Sept. 10.

In a Bedford conference room one recent Friday, a judging panel that included a trio of entrepreneurs, a finance expert and a journalist spent six hours listening to 20-minute presentations from 10 New Hampshire technology companies.

The competition for the NH Tech Alliance’s Product of the Year was tougher than usual this year. Blame that on two years of pent-up demand — the program was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic — and an exceptional class of contestants.

Nearly two dozen companies submitted applications this year, the most since the competition began in 2006. The judging panel narrowed those entries to 10 and invited the remaining 10 to pitch their products in person.

The final five the judges selected at the end of the marathon session Sept. 17 underscore how much innovation is thriving in New Hampshire. This year’s crop includes companies that represent life sciences, manufacturing and consumer products.

Each has the potential to disrupt their industries — and three of them have the potential to protect and extend human lives.

Advanced Solutions Life Sciences, CairnSurgical, Helios, Hypertherm and Vapotherm will each have seven minutes to pitch their products before a live audience from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Events United/Studio Lab in Derry. The event also will be streamed live.

The winner will be determined 50/50 based on the judges’ ranking and a vote by the audience that night.

Here’s a look at the finalists. In the eight years I’ve been a judge for this competition, this is the best batch yet.

Advanced Solutions Life Sciences — The BioAssemblyBot 500 is a robotic-based tissue fabrication and manufacturing platform designed for regenerative medicine applications.

Translation: The “BAB” is a 3-D printer that creates human tissue.

Advanced Solutions, based in Kentucky, operates a lab in the Millyard as part of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute founded by Manchester inventor Dean Kamen.

CairnSurgical has developed a surgical guidance system to help surgeons locate the precise location of breast cancer lumps. The Breast Cancer Locator provides surgeons with a 3-D printed custom surgical device and an interactive MRI-derived visualization model of the tumor, including the shape, size and location of the tumor. The Lebanon company’s locator system is designed to reduce repeat surgeries.

Helios has developed a performance improvement platform for developing athletes. The Portsmouth company’s first product is a fee-based membership that includes the Helios Core, a proprietary smart sensor that uses artificial intelligence to track skating performance for hockey players and provide benchmarks and gaming options.

Hypertherm says it spent 10 years developing the Powermax SYNC, the latest iteration of its plasma cutting and gouging system used in industrial applications. The new design, which reduces the number of fittings users need to change, was created at the request of customers, the Hanover company says.

Vapotherm has developed an updated easier-to-use version of the medical device it developed for respiratory therapy in hospital and home settings. The HVT 2.0 heats and humidifies respiratory gases to provide safe and effective flow therapy.

The Exeter company helps people breathe easier.

For more information about the Product of the Year event, visit nhtech alliance.org.

A previous version of this story listed an incorrect home city for Helios.

Mike Cote is senior editor for news and business. Contact him at mcote@unionleader.com or (603) 206-7724.