The annual Tech 50 Awards is a big evening for tech companies in Pittsburgh, a night honoring to the growth and success of regional companies in the technology space.

This marked the 18th year the awards were handed out by the Pittsburgh Technology Council—this year at the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh. Whether or not a company walks out with one of the graceful glass awards isn’t the point. Merely being among the finalists has become a point of pride in the business community.

“Our regional tech titans represent transformative technology centers of excellence and this year the bar was raised on innovation. We look forward to seeing what the next 20 years brings,” said Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the PTC.

Congratulations to the winners. Check out the complete list of finalists.

CEO of the Year: Kraig McEwen, Aesynt (formerly McKesson Automation). Tech Council says: McEwen has transformed the company by being a motivator who leads by example, encouraging everyone to make suggestions and provide feedback regardless of their roles within the company. He empowers employees to think creatively and innovatively.

Start-Up of the Year: NoWait. This is a newish category and one of the most coveted for rising companies in the region. NoWait is making waves as the first and only mobile network for casual dining restaurants. Duolingo picked up the award in 2013.

Ed Tech Company of the Year: Panther Learning Systems, a company that improves writing and critical thinking skills for high school and college students using their cloud-based platform.

Interactive and Application Developer of the Year: Schell Games. The South Side gaming company, with connections and work for Disney, has been winning this category hands-down for a few years running.

Innovator of the Year: Rhiza. The marketing analytics company develops online tools that bring Big Data down to a level that is easy to digest, making it easier to find solutions to the toughest questions.

Life Sciences Company of the Year: Aesynt, formerly McKesson, a leader in pharmacy automation for more than 25 years.

Advanced Manufacturing Company of the Year: Universal Electric Corp. Developers of an energy efficient, energy monitoring system for the data center industry.

Solutions Provider of the Year: First Insight Inc. The firm partners with retailers and manufacturers to provide insight into consumer demand and optimal entry price points for new products.