Fitness trackers for dogs. Renewable, small-scale power sources. Flying robots. The entrepreneurs behind these ideas are running some of the most promising new U.S. companies, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Five startups have been named as finalists in an annual pitch competition hosted by the Kauffman Foundation, the organization will announce Tuesday morning. The finalists for "Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash" are:

-FitBark, which makes wearable fitness trackers for dogs. (Yes, it’s essentially a FitBit for canines.)

-Hydrobee Energy Harvesting, which makes a portable, rechargeable USB battery that’s about the size of a soda can and that can be recharged by water, wind, sun or even human exertion.

-Spot On Sciences, a medical-device company that has developed a simplified method for taking blood samples.

-Briteseed, another medical-device company. This one makes high-tech sensors for surgical tools, which alert the surgeon if she’s cutting too close to a patient’s arteries or other blood vessels.

-Identified Technologies, which makes drones (or "unmanned aerial systems," if you prefer) for energy companies and other clients to use to gather data from hazardous environments.

The finalists were narrowed down from an initial field of more than 250 applicants. Last week, a 10-judge panel (including an Inc. editor) selected the five finalists from 20 semifinalists.

Next month, these five companies will compete against five contestants from Canada and five from Mexico. The North American "Get in the Ring" finals, of which Inc. is a sponsor, will take place on November 6 and 7 in the Kauffman Foundation’s home city of Kansas City, Missouri. The finals will also be livestreamed here.

Published on: Oct 7, 2014