Local tech startups vie for $10,000 in prizes

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Five technology startups presented their business ideas before a panel of judges and their peers with the hopes of winning up to $10,000 in prizes from Ben Franklin Technology Partners on May 29 at Innovation Park.

“We are often amazed by the innovations and inventions that we see in our TechCelerator companies. However, this spring’s cohort has mind-blowing, world-changing discoveries. I can’t wait for them to get to market and show the world these disruptive technologies!” Bob Dornich, director of the TechCelerator, said.

Once all the startups presented, the judges awarded Lyralux the top prize and $10,000. Developed with Penn State technology, Lyralux is an early-stage company formed to commercialize Dim to Vivid, a light source technology that enhances colors at low light levels. Lyralux is developing lighting solutions that create beautiful and energy-efficient light at all levels of dimming, from full output to very low light levels.

The other four startups this spring included:

  • IDEAS+ — a startup that uses machine learning techniques with technology developed at Penn State to speed up the drug target identification process with projected high clinical success rate and significant reduction in cost. IDEAS+ stays close to its customers during the drug development process to continuously refine strategies for maximized outcome.
  • ColumnTek — a liquid chromatography company that researches and develops chiral column products to meet the needs of the chiral separation market. We provide a broad range of chiral chromatography columns, packed with various chiral stationary phase materials. The economical, reliable and highly efficient solution leads to success in solving the chiral separation challenges.
  • NanoSpec Instruments — a company that builds transient spectrometers with a Penn State developed technology for researchers in chemistry, physics, biology, and materials science. Its patent pending technologies allow spectrometers to disrupt the current market for transient spectroscopy instrumentation by having higher performance, faster sample scan times, smaller overall footprint and less complexity than existing technologies. In addition, the technology broadens the scope of transient spectroscopy instrumentation while reducing the cost to purchase by 80 percent compared to existing technology.
  • spotLESS Materials, LLC — a startup based on Penn State technology aiming to develop and commercialize nonfouling and easy-to-clean surface coating products for toilet fixtures in order to significantly reduce water consumption and the cost of cleaning for janitorial service providers and home-owners. The patent-pending, spray-able, anti-fouling surface coating outperforms commercial materials in repelling bacteria, urine, and fecal matter, while allowing up to 90 percent water savings for surface cleaning.​

The startups are graduates of this spring’s TechCelerator@StateCollege program, a pre-business accelerator held twice a year in State College and three more times throughout the year in Altoona, Johnstown and Somerset. Ben Franklin deploys a team of at least six experts along with colleagues from the Small Business Development Center in order to mentor and guide students though the steps to starting a company.

In five and a half years, 77 teams have started companies, raised more than $33 million in funding, hired 187 people and earned a combined $14 million in revenue.

Located in the Technology Center at 200 Innovation Boulevard in State College, the TechCelerator@State College is a partnership among several of the area’s economic development providers, including Invent Penn State, that offers budding entrepreneurs designated space, loan and investment programs, business support and mentoring services, and entrepreneurial training all housed in one location. For more information, visit

The TechCelerator is sponsored by the Invent Penn State initiative, a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. For more information, visit

Last Updated June 09, 2018