Grand Prize winner of $50,000 announced in Ben Franklin's Big Idea Contest

Sarah Boyer

Sarah Boyer with Antria of Indiana, Pennsylvania, claimed the $50,000 top prize in this year’s BIG Idea Contest. The company has developed patented stem cell therapies that target wound care applications. Contestants made their pitch to a panel of judges via Zoom.

Credit: Penn State

The grand prize winner of $50,000 in this year’s BIG Idea contest was Sarah Boyer and the team at her company, Antria, from Indiana, Pennsylvania. Antira has developed patented stem cell therapies that target wound care applications.

The North Central PA LaunchBox powered by Penn State DuBois once again joined Ben Franklin technology Partners in bringing the BIG Idea Contest to the region, in which emerging innovators and small manufacturers submitted their ideas and business concepts for consideration for the grand prize.

The “People’s Choice Award” winner was Nicole Sawyers with Neonatal Loving Kare, of DuBois, Pennsylvania. The company makes an FDA approved positioning device for premature babies called Nurture Rest.

More than 100 friends, family members, and community partners tuned in via Zoom on Nov. 19, to see the six finalists in Ben Franklin’s BIG Idea Contest make their pitch to a panel of independent judges.

This contest, which targeted the counties of Indiana, Jefferson, Clearfield, and Cambria, attracted dozens of emerging innovators, tech startups, and small manufacturers vying to win up to $50,000.

The other four finalists were:  

• Michael Reed, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, with Micro Gainz, who developed micro weight plates for barbell lifting.

• Anthony Caiola, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, with Back 40 Funding, who is developing a platform that connects real estate developers with local investors using online crowdfunding.

• Gregory Kenning, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, with Nanomagnetic Electronics, who has developed solid state, heat integrating sensors that monitor perishable foods, pharmaceuticals, and machinery lubricants. 

• Tanvi Bharathan, with Staff Atom, of Indiana, Pennsylvania who is developing a software application that consolidates and simplifies essential tasks for staffing agencies.

Stephen Brawley, president and CEO of Ben Franklin, commented, “The judges must have had a very difficult job in choosing a winner, as all those who participated in this contest did an excellent job. Congratulations to Sarah Boyer and her team and many thanks to all who dialed in to support these entrepreneurs.”

This year’s BIG Idea Contest was made possible by partnerships between Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the North Central PA LaunchBox, the Small Business Development Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, JARI, Downtown Indiana, the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations, the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, Indiana County, the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana County Development Corporation, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

For more information, contact Jill Edwards at 717-948-6625 or [email protected]