News & Events


ERIE, PA – On Thursday, January 14, 2021,with more than 160 viewers in the zoom audience, seven companies made their final pitch presentations to four independent judges; a panel which also included a past BIG IDEA winner, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai with Acoustic Sheep. Many thanks to the judges, regional partners, and Senator Dan Laughlin for taking the time to attend and support this entrepreneurial event.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners is pleased to announce that Rebecca Styn with Blind Tiger was awarded the first place prize of $50,000 in this year’s Northwest PA BIG IDEA contest and also the People’s Choice Award of $2,500.   Dr. Styn and her team, who also run a popular local restaurant, Room 33, are developing natural, organic alternatives to alcoholic cocktails which will be shelf stable for up to 18 months.

Other participating finalists included:

Additive Enginuity Group, located in Seneca, is developing innovative product designs that help improve productivity while promoting workplace safety.

American Precast Industries, located in Clarion, is focused on innovative, cost effective products to meet the economic pressures from COVID-19 while stimulating regional economic growth.

Elements Aligned, located in Erie, is developing adjustable panel hangers that create modular interior walls.

Leverage4Data, located in Erie, provides discrete manufacturing companies with cloud-based solutions that ensure high quality parts are produced on time.

Two Sparrows LS/Shape City, located in Erie, is creating an interactive gaming platform for the education technology market.

Scholar Bridge, located in Erie, is a fintech lender that provides credit and financial services to college students and recent graduates.


Stephen Brawley, President and CEO of Ben Franklin, commented, “I don’t envy this panel of judges the job they faced in choosing just one winner out of this great group of finalists. Many thanks to all those who participated, and congratulations to Rebecca and the team at Blind Tiger”

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners:  The largest seed investor in our 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.  Visit