Business ideas

$50,000 BIG Idea competition accepting entries for business ideas in PA Wilds


DuBOIS, PA – The North Central PA LaunchBox powered by Penn State DuBois, part of the Invent Penn State initiative, has again partnered with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship and other leaders economic development to bring the BIG Ideas Competition to the region. This year, partners are looking for technology innovators or small manufacturers located in Center, Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties in Pennsylvania who are developing or manufacturing a product, process or innovation related to outdoor and recreation, forest products , manufacturing and technology. The winning contestant could take home $50,000 to use to further develop their idea.

The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, April 18 at 5 p.m. Click here for a full list of rules and to apply. Finalists will pitch their idea to a panel of judges at a final pitch event, ending with the announcement of the BIG Idea winners. Details on the pitch event will be announced.

Last year, the top spot went to Faubion, located in Lancaster County, represented by Andrew Wolgemuth and Brian Elliott. The pair won a cash prize of $30,000. The company has created newly developed 3D printing technology and wax resins that produce replicas of unique wedding ring designs. Second place went to Clearfield-based Neonatal Loving Kare, represented by Nicole Sawyers, Nicole Drayer and Dan McCluskey. Their company has developed a patented, FDA-cleared neonatal intensive care unit positioning device for premature infants.

In 2020, the $50,000 grand prize winner of the BIG Idea competition was Sarah Boyer and the team at her company, Antria, from Indiana, Pennsylvania. Antria has developed patented stem cell therapies that target wound care applications. In 2019, two winners shared the grand prize: Joe Lanich with Laughing Owl Press, of Kane, Pennsylvania, won first place and received $30,000 to develop his business creation software that brings digital convenience to high-end letterpress printed products, while David Conklin with Wilds Sonshine Factory in Kane, Pennsylvania placed second. He took home $20,000 to further develop his process for distilling a new alcohol derived from a sunflower plant grown only in the PA Wilds area.

The largest early-stage investor in the region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. It provides investment capital, operational assistance, BIG IDEA competitions, and TechCelerator startup boot camps to emerging technology companies and existing small manufacturers to create and retain jobs in Pennsylvania.

This year’s BIG Idea competition is made possible through a partnership between Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, the North Central AP Launch Box, Appalachian Regional Commission, Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission, SEDA Council of Governments, and Harrisburg LaunchBox.

For more information, contact Annie Hughes at 717-948-4301 or [email protected] or Liz Wilson at 814-898-6541 or [email protected]

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