UNIVERSITY PARK — A company founded by Penn State alumni was recognized Thursday as the winner of the Big Idea $25,000 Business Plan contest, sponsored by the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum and the Small Business Development Center at Penn State.
The contest sought out a company with an innovative technology or manufacturing-oriented idea. Errcive Inc., owned by Stephen Dynan and Eric Ramberg, is developing a low-cost, diesel exhaust mitigation system that will help bring older machines into compliance with pollution requirements instead of having to replace them. Dynan said the filter system will help trap soot from diesel engines and other other equipment, allowing it to meet stringent state regulations.
“We’ve got to find a cost-effective way to make these pieces of equipment still useful in the long run,” said Dynan, of Boalsburg. “What we’re really looking for is a retrofit approach because there’s really a lot of infrastructure out there.”
Dynan said he and Ramberg, a California-based patent agent, met while working toward their master’s degrees in materials science at Penn State. The winning idea is one they’ve discussed, but the contest was the final push to finalize the details, he said.
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“Our vision is we want to solve the problem rather than have it pushed on to someone else,” he said.
A patent for the project is being finalized. Dynan said the goal is to raise between $1 million and $3 million in venture capital funds by year’s end to develop a prototype. Based on those results, a second round of funding would be sought with the goal of creating manufacturing jobs for Pennsylvania. The technology would first be marketed to California, which has legislation in place to significantly curb diesel pollutants by 2012, and to other states and countries from there.
“This is going to have a fairly significant worldwide impact if we’re successful with what we’re trying to do,” Dynan said. “Ultimately, worldwide, it can be over a $300 billion market.”
Errcive Inc. was among five finalists from 27 applicants.
Jill Edwards, executive director of the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, said, “There is a terrific number of services available to help young companies in Pennsylvania if you know how to get in.”
The tech companies are where the good-paying jobs will be, she said. “They’re high risk but potentially high reward.”
Jennifer Thomas can be reached at 231-4638.Ԋ