Ben Franklin Technology Partners Hosts 11th Annual TechCelerator Pitch Event and Award Ceremony


The winning team: Peconic

On Tuesday, December 6, the TechCelerator at State College wrapped up its 11th session.

After 10 weeks of classes and one-on-one mentoring sessions, the five start-ups presented their business ideas to a panel of judges and their peers with the hopes of winning $10,000 to further their projects.

The judges included Paul Sciabica, Allan Darr, and Bob Fiori—all local entrepreneurs and investors.

The winner of the evening was Peconic, a team that uses patented genomic technology to better identify and treat cancer. The company was founded by Frank Pugh, Penn State professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, along with William Lai and Nina Farrell, who work in Pugh’s lab.

Through epigenome profiling, the company can create a tumor profile for each patient. Ultimately, they plan to build a profile database that will track which treatments each unique tumor responds to. Physicians will then be able to use the database to determine most effective treatment plan for each patient.

The Other Teams

  • Architects Anonymous will provide an app—and ultimately software—that analyzes a variety of factors (including geology, utilities, zoning laws, macro-climate, and micro-climate) to help individuals and professionals build more efficient houses. The app can provide suggestions for materials to use, how to utilize space, and more.
  • Helios has discovered a potential treatment for late stage cancers. Their novel small molecule inhibitors target the PAD4 enzyme to reduce cancer growth.
  • Million Concepts is a research and consulting company specializing in data analysis and archiving in astronomy and remote sensing. However, founder Chase Million was the sole group without a product to present. Over the course of the 10-week program, Million discovered that an endoscope designed to prevent wounds would be too expensive and complicated to bring to market. Instead, he presented the valuable lessons he learned through the TechCelerator program. The judges—all seasoned entrepreneurs—assured Million that failure is a normal part of the process and commended him for all his work.
  • Phospholutions, a Penn State student start-up, has created a buffering agent to reduce water and fertilizer consumption and ultimately pollution. Their product, which also accelerates turf growth, is being targeted towards golf courses. 

To learn more about the TechCelerator program, visit