2008-10-30 / Local & State

Ben Franklin Technology Announces Business Contest

The Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum (BFVIF) in conjunction with the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA (BFTP) announces the Big Idea Business Plan Contest. The grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to one technology-oriented company start or further develop the business in Pennsylvania.

This grand prize represents a four-fold increase from previous Big Idea contests and reinforces BFTP's long-standing commitment to fueling the commonwealth's technology economy.

Interested entrepreneurs can visit http://100k.benfranklin.org for rules, entry forms, and FAQs. The deadline for applications is December 17, 2008.

"We are very pleased to partner with the Venture Investment Forum to cosponsor this business plan contest. Helping to develop and support entrepreneurial activity is at the very core of the Ben Franklin mission," said Stephen Brawley, president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP.

"We are always proud of the folks who participate in our contests and, of course, of those who win. But we've come to learn that everyone in the commonwealth wins when we support the efforts of those who are willing to take the first step to becoming business owners," Brawley said.

Dr. Patrick Farrell, president and CEO of Forward Vision and a previous Big Idea contest winner, praised the concept as a great initiative for both budding entrepreneurs and established business owners.

"New business start-ups require funds, of course," Farrell said, "so winning the contest was great! But we also need guidance afterwards. The Ben Franklin group has been an extremely responsive in providing this support to our small rural Pennsylvania company - a small company with large aspirations."

To qualify for the contest, entrepreneurs must have a new marketable business idea, less than $500,000 in sales in year-to-date 2008 and less than $500,000 for the full year 2007, fewer than 50 employees in 2007 and 2008, and not received previous BFTP funding for their business. Preferred industry sectors include, but are not limited to, nanotechnology, green technologies, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, medical devices, information technology and software.

Additionally, applicants must have business operations or the willingness to start a business in any one of the 32 participating counties in the central and northern Pennsylvania region. These counties include: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Erie, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Perry, Potter, Somerset, Venango, Warren and York.

"The Big Idea Business Plan Contest gives entrepreneurs the impetus to finalize their business plans and receive feedback from the judges, in addition to the monetary prize," said Jill Edwards, executive director of BFVIF. "We are delighted when we are able to award the prize money to a company with not only vision but a demonstrated, solid plan for commercializing their technology."

Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP provides operational assistance, entrepreneurial support, and investment capital to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers for the purpose of creating and retaining jobs in Pennsylvania. Contact the main office of Ben Franklin in University Park at 814-863-4559 or see the Web site at www.cnp.benfranklin.org

In 2008, BFTP was awarded the U.S. Economic Development Administration's Excellence in Economic Development Award and the International Economic Development Council Technology-Based Economic Development Award.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. For more information, visit http://www.cnp.benfranklin.org/

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