DuBOIS, Pa. — The North Central PA LaunchBox powered by Penn State DuBois, part of the Invent Penn State initiative, has once again joined with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, and other economic development leaders to bring the BIG Idea Contest to the region. This year, partners are looking for tech innovators or small manufacturers located in Centre, Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties in Pennsylvania who are developing or crafting a product, process or innovation related to the outdoors and recreation, forest products, manufacturing and technology. The winning contestant could take home $50,000 to use in further developing their idea.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, April 18. Click here for a complete list of rules and to apply. Finalists will be required to pitch their idea to a panel of judges during a final pitch event, ending with the announcement of the BIG Idea winners. Details on the pitch event will be announced.
Last year, first place went Faubion, located in Lancaster County, represented by Andrew Wolgemuth and Brian Elliott. The pair took home a $30,000 cash prize. The company created a 3D printing technology and newly developed wax resins that produce replicas of unique bridal ring designs. Second place went to Neonatal Loving Kare, located in Clearfield, represented by Nicole Sawyers, Nicole Drayer and Dan McCluskey. Their company developed a patented, FDA-approved newborn intensive care unit positioning device for premature infants.
In 2020, the grand-prize winner of $50,000 in the BIG Idea Contest 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 split the grand prize: Joe Lanich with Laughing Owl Press, of Kane, Pennsylvania, took first place and received $30,000 to develop his business building 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 expand on his process of distilling a new spirit derived from a sunflower plant grown solely in the PA Wilds Region.
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 Contests, and TechCelerator Startup Boot Camps to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers to create and retain jobs in Pennsylvania.
This year’s BIG Idea Contest is made possible through partnership between Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, the North Central PA LaunchBox, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, the North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission, the SEDA Council of Governments, and the Harrisburg LaunchBox.