Learn how you can win $50,000 towards your BIG IDEA at upcoming events

Come learn how you can win $50,000 towards your BIG IDEA!

Are you an entrepreneur with a BIG IDEA who is developing a product, process, or innovation related to the maker economy, outdoors and recreation, forest products, manufacturing, and technology?

Learn more at the PA Wilds 2024 BIG IDEA Contest Information and Q&A Sessions. Get an edge with insider knowledge on how to excel in the contest, receive expert guidance from regional economic development leaders, and come to ask questions! Leave with knowledge on how to plan, pitch, and win $50,000 for your big idea!


There will be two in-person informational events to learn more:

Lycoming County – A free event will take place on Thursday, February 22, 2024, from 4 to 5 p.m. at Bald Birds Brewing Company, 220 Shaffer Lane, Jersey Shore, PA. There will be an optional PM Exchange networking event following from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Register for the event here: bfcnp.org/baldbirds. Hosted by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and the PA Wilds.

Potter County – A free event will be hosted at the Coudersport American Legion at 2 Buffalo St, Coudersport, PA on Wednesday, March 6 from 5 until 7 p.m. Register for the event here: bfcnp.org/amerleg192. Hosted by Visit Potter Tioga, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and the PA Wilds.


Informational webinar

An informational webinar was held on January 24, explaining how to apply, introducing the many partners involved and the resources they can provide, and offering tips for the best chance at becoming a finalist. Watch the webinar recording below.


What is the BIG IDEA Contest?

The BIG IDEA Contest is a regional competition for entrepreneurs to pitch their “big idea” for a chance to win cash prizes and entrepreneurial support. Finalists have a chance to bring home up to $50,000 which goes a long way in helping further develop their BIG IDEA and infuse their startup with much-needed cash. In addition to the cash, finalists will gain pitch experience, business training, and meet new contacts – which are equally as valuable as the prize money.

Visit bfcnp.org/PA-Wilds-24 for contest rules, FAQ, and to apply. 

The winner will receive:

  • Up to $50,000 in cash
  • A chance to win an additional $2,500 in the People’s Choice Award
  • An opportunity to pitch the business concept for a $10,000 Seed Grant from Ben Franklin
  • A guaranteed spot in a business accelerator program offered by either Ben Franklin or Penn State’s LaunchBox network.
  • Business mentoring and support by Ben Franklin’s Transformation Business Services Network

You qualify to apply if: 

  • Your business is located in Cameron, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, or Tioga County, PA. 
  • You have not previously received Ben Franklin funding or a cash prize from either a BIG IDEA Contest or a TechCelerator program.
  • You plan to commercialize your innovation.
  • You do not have more than $1,000,000 in annual sales revenue (as an established business). 

About the BIG IDEA Contests: Since the start of the BIG IDEA contests, more than $2 million in cash prizes have been awarded throughout Ben Franklin’s 32-county footprint in central and northern Pennsylvania. The contest offers start-ups and entrepreneurs some much-needed seed funding, as well as business training, pitch experience, and industry contacts – often more valuable than the prize money itself. 

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners: The largest seed investor in the region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners (an initiative of the PA Department of Community & Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority) has been providing investment capital, business support services, and operational assistance to emerging tech-startups and small manufacturers for nearly 40 years. Learn more at cnp.benfranklin.org   

For media inquiries, please contact Karly Scala at [email protected] 

About the PA Wilds: The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region and its 2+ million acres of public lands as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, attract investment, retain population and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of more than 575 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.PAWilds.com. Find regionally made products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com

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