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What began as polite theater turned into a shark tank by the time a check for $100,000 cash was delivered— on the spot — to the winner of the GPU Technology Conference’s Early Stage Challenge.

Given four minutes to make a pitch and another four to answer questions from an expert panel, CEOs from a dozen young companies that utilize GPUs faced down the existential question: Why is your business worthy of investment, right now?

TK

The pitchmen came to Silicon Valley from as far as Australia and Israel. Their pitches were just as varied, ranging from bullet-point PowerPoints to dynamism worthy of TED Talk.

The business areas, too, covered a wide array. ShiVa Technologies is porting video games to a cloud-based development engine. Global Valuation is pricing derivatives for major financial firms. IGI Technologies is unifying medical imagery in the process of diagnosing and treating cancer.

It was an exhilarating display of smart people showcasing sophisticated technology. But there could only be one winner. After votes were cast by more than 100 audience members and the judging panel, Map-D stood alone.

The Cambridge, Mass., based startup has built a high-speed GPU in-memory database that brings interactivity to big data. It can, for example, track more than a billion tweets worldwide at a time – and provide real-time visual analysis of the data.

Learn more about Map-D in our blog, where you can also get further background info on the Emerging Companies Summit and the Early Stage Challenge.