News & Events

Winners Announced in Ben Franklin’s Agriculture, Food & Beverage BIG IDEA Contest!

On October 20, 2022, beginning at 2:00 PM, eight finalists from the BIG IDEA Contest made their pitch presentations to a panel of independent judges from PA Department of Agriculture, Sheetz, Penn State Extension, and Trilliant Food & Nutrition LLC. The panel of judges awarded two cash prizes.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners is Pleased to Announce:

The first-place winner, Premier Manufacturing (Zenedge Energy Drink), located in Erie County, took home a cash prize of $15,000. The company, represented by Marva Morris, developed a “better-for-you” energy drink that tastes great and has less caffeine and sugar.

The second-place winner, Immunagreen, located in Centre County, took home a cash prize of $10,000. The company, represented by Tim McNellis, developed an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to antibiotics that help to control fire blight disease in apples and pears.

More than 95 audience members, who attended via Zoom, voted for their favorite startup pitch presentation. The People’s Choice Award of $2,500, was awarded to PennPoa, located in Clinton County. The company, represented by David Huff, developed a novel seed harvesting technology for the commercial production of Poa Annua turfgrass which is a high-quality and cost-effective playing surface for golf courses.

Other Finalists Included:

ProGro, LLC (Farmulated), located in Erie County, creates organic fruit and vegetable capsule vitamins that are derived from organic, pesticide free superfoods that are rich in antioxidants.

Unbaked Flour Company, located in Centre County, offers delicious, no-bake snacks that support gut health using prebiotic resistant starch found in green bananas and a proprietary blend of probiotic strains.

CUPOD LLC, located in Mercer County, is a food-safe sanitizing chemical technology that kills mold, bacteria, and viruses with FDA and USDA approved active ingredients, while reducing carbon footprint with patent-pending “pod-to-bottle” format.

Hayden Hunter Weaver, located in Erie County, creates sustainable packaging and containers made from carbon-friendly, hemp-derived materials.

Honey Bear Kitchen, located in Dauphin County, creates super-premium, delicious ice cream that is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, and made from scratch using mostly organic ingredients.

We would like to thank our program sponsors:

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences; Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP); the SBDCs at Penn West Clarion, Gannon University, and Penn State University; and PA SBDC Agriculture Center of Excellence

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 with some much-needed seed funding, as well as business training, pitch experience, and industry contacts – often more valuable than the prize money itself.