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A Corvallis company that helps fire departments determine the most efficient way to deploy personnel and equipment took the top prize at the 2016 Willamette Angels Conference on Thursday, a check for $300,000 in investment funding.

"It's predictive modeling software that helps communities save lives, property and money," Code3Simulator CEO Carl Niedner, a software developer and volunteer firefighter, explained during his 10-minute pitch at the conference.

In a break from past practice, the conference awarded another $100,000 in funding to a second firm, also from Corvallis.

Agility Robotics is developing walking robots for the emerging automated package delivery market. Using technology licensed from Oregon State University, the firm has designed a robot that can mimic a human gait and adjust to obstacles in its path.

Counting individual "sidecars" and other deals worked out during the event, this year's conference resulted in $1.2 million in total investment in participating companies, fund manager Marc Manley announced.

Lola's Fruit Shrubs, a Eugene startup that makes craft cocktail mixers using an Old World technique known as shrub, won the $2,500 cash prize as the top launch-stage company.

The Willamette Angels Conference, sponsored by the Corvallis and Eugene chambers of commerce, began in 2009 and alternates each year between the two communities. The event also receives support from the Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development Office and the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network.

This year's conference was held in Eugene at the former Eugene Planing Mill, now an event space called Venue 252.

Funding comes primarily from the Willamette Angels, a group of accredited investors from around the Willamette Valley.

An investment committee evaluates the business plans of participating startups to determine which will receive funding. In return, investors get a stake in the company.

To date, the group has invested more than $3 million in promising Willamette Valley startups.

Last year's winner, Eugene data visualization company Moonshadow Mobile, took home $400,000 in investment funding, plus another $120,000 in follow-on investments. After sidecar investments in some of the other participating companies, the conference handed out more than $1 million in angel funding.

The other three finalists in this year's competition, all Portland companies, were Costanoan Biotechnologies, which has developed a customizable delivery platform for pharmaceuticals; Iotas, which sells smart apartment technology to real estate developers; and Yellow Scope, a maker of science kits for girls.

A record 44 companies applied to compete in this year's conference, which drew just over 300 attendees.

Ruby Receptionists CEO Jill Nelson gave the keynote address. The University of Oregon graduate launched her turnkey receptionist service in 2003 and built it into a company with more than 300 employees serving more than 5,000 small businesses.

Last year she sold a majority stake in Ruby Receptionists for $38.8 million.

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