Eight emerging tech-startups from across the state, including four from the midstate, will compete for $50,000 as part of Ben Franklin’s Big Idea contest.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a seed investor initiative of the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development, announced this month that it selected the finalists for its annual Big Idea contest from a pool of 115 applicants across Ben Franklin’s 32-county footprint.
The finalists include tech-entrepreneurs and small manufacturers from Cumberland, Dauphin, York, Lancaster, Erie, Centre, Clearfield and Clarion counties.
Finalists will compete virtually by pitching their businesses to a panel of judges over Zoom. Audience members attending the event will vote on their favorite presentation with the winner receiving a $2,500 People’s Choice Award.
The Big Idea Contest was started by Ben Franklin in 2004 as a way to get people with innovative ideas to present those ideas and receive technical assistance and possible funding to make those ideas real, said Annie Hughes, director of outreach at Ben Franklin’s learning center.
“Because Ben Franklin of central and northern Pa. serves a predominantly rural marketplace, this program is an effective tool for prospective entrepreneurs to make themselves visible to Ben Franklin and other partnering entrepreneurial development service providers,” said Hughes.
Finalists that aren’t chosen for the $50,000 prize still learn valuable skills through the contest and open themselves up to future opportunities.
“The program has become an effective tool for prospective entrepreneurs to step forward and make themselves known to not only our traditional funding program, but to other entrepreneurial development partners in the community,” said Liz Wilson, director of marketing and communications at Ben Franklin. “Whether or not an applicant wins a cash prize, each one benefits by way of access to advice, funding resource, networking opportunities, and pitch training.”