Finalists in the PA WILDS BIG IDEA Contest Have Been Announced

Finalists in the PA WILDS BIG IDEA Contest Have Been Announced!

In partnership with the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, and with funding support provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ recent innovation competition targeted the counties of Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, and Jefferson.

Dozens of emerging entrepreneurs who are developing an innovation related to the maker economy, forest products, outdoors and recreation and even tech manufacturing, visited the site to check out the rules, eligibility, and application process. Nearly 40 submitted an application by the contest’s deadline on April 18, 2022.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners has been offering Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and small manufacturers the opportunity to compete in our risk-free BIG IDEA contests for nearly 20 years. The winner will be announced at a pitch event to be held on June 9, 2022 at the North Central PA LaunchBox powered by Penn State DuBois.


The prize package for this contest includes up to $50,000 in cash, the opportunity to win an additional $2,500 in a People’s Choice Award, the chance to pitch the business concept for a $10,000 seed grant from Ben Franklin, and a guaranteed seat in an upcoming business accelerator program.

With so many great submissions, it was a difficult job for the preliminary review team to narrow down the pool of contestants to just a handful of finalists. Listed below are the six finalists in the PA WILDS BIG IDEA Contest:

  • American Precast Industries (Emily Weiser, Theron Miles, Thomas McConnell, Cheyenne McIntyre), located in Clarion County, produces Precast Transformer Pads and Solar Panel Foundations made to specification to prevent contractors from losing time and materials due to adverse weather and poor-quality concrete.
  • Billett Electric (Jeffrey Billett), located in Jefferson County, offers a multiple source grounding facilitation system for the oil and gas drilling industry that provides a fast, easy, and reliable means to make proper grounding and bonding connections.
  • Brinc Building Products (John Brooks), located in Clarion County, manufactures energy efficient building envelope solutions that manage all four control layers of the exterior wall (bulk water, thermal insulation, air infiltration, and moisture vapor).
  • Neodime (Ryno Pretorious and Derek Lengenfelder), located in Jefferson County, offers a proven, patented, and environmentally-friendly fluorination technology for rare earth materials, enabling Neodime’s ability to enter the market to metals manufacturing. Neodime offers its technologies, specialist engineering design, and consulting services in the rare earth element value chain development.
  • Nimbus-T Global (Tom Johnson), located in Clearfield County, has developed a patented Nimbus-Key ID system for a more advanced identification and authentication of users, employees, and customers, to protect the “front door” entry to enterprises while protecting user information.
  • PA Mushroom Company (Esperanzo Wilcox), located in Clarion County, sources wild native Pennsylvania mushroom strains. By isolating mushroom genetics, and use of mycological breeding practices, the company develops new strains of organic gourmet and medicinal mushrooms for food and pharmaceuticals.

Please join us on June 9, 2022 from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the North Central PA Launchbox, powered by Penn State DuBois, to cheer on and support these finalists as well as congratulate the winner! RSVP here!

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners

The largest early-stage investor in our region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP, (an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority) provides investment capital, operational assistance, and business support services to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers for the purpose of creating and retaining jobs in Pennsylvania. Visit Ben Franklin’s website here.

About the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center)

The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Learn more here.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. Learn more here.


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