Seven startups in Northwestern Pennsylvania are gearing up to pitch their innovations at the annual BIG IDEA competition sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania (BFTP/CNP).
“Many people don’t realize that Ben Franklin makes investments in small manufacturers,” said BFTP/CNP in announcing the competition. “This year, in order to remind companies to think about Ben Franklin as a resource when planning to introduce new or improved products to the market, our BIG IDEA Contest will focus on helping small manufacturers and entrepreneurs turn their ideas into real business opportunities.”
The finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of independent judges in April, with the winner announced in May. The winner’s prize package is valued at $200,000 and includes $50,000 in cash, an Innovation Adoption Grant up to $25,000 to work with a PA-based research university, priority access to a low-interest $100,000 loan from BFTP, 60 hours of Innovation Engineering project time from the NW Industrial Resource Center as well as access to an Advanced Manufacturing Apprentice to assist in prototype development or pre-commercialization services, a one-year pass to seminars offered by BFTP's eMarketing Learning Center and a free consult (and proposal prep) on how to access federal R&D grant money from the Innovation Partnership.
BFTP/CNP President and CEO Stephen Brawley says the response to the 2015 BIG IDEA competition was overwhelming.
“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial energy in this area,” he enthuses. “We had so many great applications, it was difficult to choose just a few finalists. It takes guts to put your ideas out there to be judged by strangers, and we applaud all who did. Those who did not make it into the finals, should feel free to contact Ben Franklin's Erie office if they want to pursue other options.”
This year’s finalists are:
- Wei-Shin Lai, Acoustic Sheep, LLC
- Zak Stahlsmith, ApexDrop Influence Marketing
- Duane Clement, Data Inventions
- Todd Scalise, Higherglyphics
- Mary Jo Light, Integrated Machine Company
- Fred Zeyfang, Plastic Innovations and Technologies
- Harb Nayar, TAT Technologies
Source: Liz Wilson, BFTP/CNP
Writer: Elise Vider