BIG IDEA Contest

Big Ideas Grow in WILD Places!

Calling All Visionaries in Cameron, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, and Tioga Counties, PA!

Are you a trailblazing entrepreneur with a game-changing idea in the maker economy, outdoors and recreation, forest products, manufacturing, or technology? Your innovation could be the spark that transforms industries and landscapes. Welcome to the Big Idea Contest: Where WILD Ideas Thrive!

As a finalist, you’ll dive into an exciting competition vying for not just a $2500 People’s Choice Award but also the chance to win up to $50,000 in prize money. Picture yourself on the stage, pitching your BIG idea at the finale, surrounded by your cheering supporters—family and friends who can cast their votes to support your vision. It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase your innovation and potentially secure the resources to bring your idea to life. Don’t miss this incredible chance to make your mark and turn your dreams into reality!

Apply for the BIG IDEA Contest

The application portal is open until Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 5 p.m. Don’t miss this chance to turn your wild idea into a reality. Apply now, and let’s grow your BIG IDEA together!

2023 Big Idea Contest Winner, Kafferlin Strategies

Big Idea Contest Informational Session: Coudersport

We regret to inform you that the outreach event for the Big Idea Contest has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Additionally, we encourage you to watch our recorded webinar, which provides more details about the contest, helpful tips, and a Q&A session, available here. If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch with us. Your understanding and support are greatly appreciated.

Why Apply?

Ignite Your Innovation: Dive into a community of like-minded creators and thinkers, ready to amplify your BIG IDEA.

Prize Money: The winner stands to receive up to $50,000 in cash – a vital resource to propel your BIG IDEA to new heights.

Network & Pitch Experience: Beyond the cash prize, gain invaluable pitch experience, and business training, and forge connections that last a lifetime.

Who Should Apply?

If you’re located in Cameron, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, or Tioga County, PA, haven’t received previous Ben Franklin funding, and are ready to bring your visionary idea to life, this contest is tailor-made for you! Whether you’re shaping a new product, process, or innovation, if you’re on the path to commercialization and your annual sales revenue is below $1,000,000, we want to hear from you!

What’s at Stake?

The winner will receive:

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

Is Your Idea the Right Fit?

We’re on the lookout for scalable business models across various industries – from technology to manufacturing, forest products to green initiatives, and outdoor recreation.

Big Idea Contest winners from 2023

2024 BIG IDEA Contest Informational Webinar

2023 PA Wilds BIG IDEA Contest Finale!

Winners of the 2022 PA Wilds Big Idea Contest Share Insights

Frequently Asked Questions

Scalable business models and ideas are prioritized. These can range across many industries. We particularly encourage innovators and startups in technology, manufacturing, forest products, green products and processes, outdoor recreation to apply.

No, only those who have not received funding from Ben Franklin prior are eligible.

The 2024 BIG IDEA Contest sponsored by PA Wilds is only accepting businesses or entrepreneurs located in Cameron, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, or Tioga County, PA.

We welcome innovators with business ideas to apply. You do not have to have registered your business to apply, but you do need to plan to register to do business in Pennsylvania.

No. We take zero equity and charge no fees.

While cohorts range in size, there are usually 5 finalists selected per contest.

  • Attend the program’s pitch training program
  • Complete investment summary (2-page business summary—template provided to finalists)
  • Create a social media video to promote your company for the People’s Choice Award (template provided to finalists)
  • Complete at least 1:1 coaching session with Ben Franklin staff
  • Present pitch deck at final event

We suggest allotting 5-6 hours per week to complete program materials and prepare for the final pitch competition

The contest awards $50k total, distributed among the winners. Most contests award 1-3 winners. One lucky winner will receive an additional $2,500 People’s Choice Award.

Attendees at the final pitch competition vote live to award this $2,500 prize to their chosen finalist.

Apply for the BIG IDEA Contest

The application portal is open until Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 5 p.m. Don’t miss this chance to turn your wild idea into a reality. Apply now, and let’s grow your BIG IDEA together!

Questions about the BIG IDEA Contest? Ask below!

Big Idea Contest Questions

Big Idea Contest Ben Franklin Technology Partners
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship