EvoNexus CEO Rory Moore (left) with Sonic VR CEO Jason Riggs. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Sixteen San Diego startups with innovations ranging from first responder drones to an automated pet-training system competed for the investment brass ring Thursday night at EvoNexus‘ Demo Day.

Sonic VR, which is introducing radical new headphone technology, was voted the best, and its team left immediately for dinner at the Estancia La Jolla with a group of 20 potential investors.

The company wants to “change the way the world experiences audio,” said CEO Jason Riggs. “We have the breakthrough technology to capture this market.”

Chad Amonn, CEO and co-founder of INOVA DRONE, with his craft for use by first responders. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The third and largest Demo Day to date drew a crowd of 350 to the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego.

Each startup was introduced and given five minutes to make its pitch. The audience then voted via an online site.

Typical of the pitches was Obrary, a startup developing software for custom manufacturing. “We’re solving a problem that most people don’t know even exists,” said Scott Austin, CEO and co-founder of the company.

PartySpark is trying to automate the process of planning parties, letting consumers plan an event through an online interface.

Lab Fellows is offering a scientific laboratory on demand, allowing researches to perform experiments at one-tenth the typical cost.

Each of the startups had gone through a four-month program during which they develop a minimum viable product and validate the market for it.

CEO Rory Moore said that in the six years since the incubator program began, EvoNexus has graduated 81 companies. Those companies have raised $227 million in funding and received $376 million through acquisitions. “We had no idea this would be so successful,” Moore said.

EvoNexus now has incubator locations downtown, in University City and in Irvine in Orange County, all contributed by the Irvine Co.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.