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StartUp Lehigh Valley Pitch Competition Returns to Bethlehem

By Colin McEvoy on September 15, 2022

One of the past StartUp Valley events at the Bethlehem-based Factory LLC. This year’s event will be held on Oct. 26.

More than $30,000 in prize money will be up for grabs in the fourth annual StartUp Lehigh Valley, a pitch competition that showcases regional entrepreneurs and the innovation taking place in our community.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Factory LLC, a Bethlehem-based investor and operator for food, beverage, and pet health companies in Lehigh Valley, which developed and has hosted the competition for each of the last four years.

“The StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition is designed to help grow and showcase the entrepreneurship that’s already happening in the Valley from Easton to Allentown and getting the communities excited about supporting these local startups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory. 

StartUp Lehigh Valley will be broadcast and streamed live on 69 WFMZ-TV. It will be held on Oct. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The deadline for entrepreneurs to apply is Oct. 7. Visit here to apply.

The in-person audience is limited to 250, and those interested in attending must register in advance here.

In this entrepreneurial pitch competition, 10 finalists will pitch their products and businesses to a panel of judges in front of a live and virtual audience. In addition to the prize money, More than thirty thousand dollars in prize money is up for grabs, along with essential resources for startup businesses.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is among the sponsors for this year’s StartUp Lehigh Valley.

“The Lehigh Valley has a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship, from the Bethlehem Moravians’ building the first waterworks in the American colonies to Joel Spira inventing the electronic dimmer switch and starting the Lutron company here,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “We’re pleased that Startup Lehigh Valley and the Factory are continuing to showcase the Lehigh Valley’s innovative spirit and help foster the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

The grand prize winner will take home $20,000, with two runners-up earning $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. The live and virtual audience will also vote for the winner of a $1,000 Audience Choice award.

The prize money is presented by Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, an innovation hub that, in partnership with Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV), provides comprehensive startup resources ranging from free legal services to access to expert business advisors.

“These early-stage entrepreneurs and the innovation, talent, and raw determination they bring to the StartUp stage is what we see every day at Lehigh Valley LaunchBox and across PSU’s state-wide innovation hub network,” said PSU-LV Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson

“These are the individuals who will continue to fuel the Commonwealth’s economy – most importantly our job market – and the reason Penn State has doubled down on our commitment to foster that innovation,” Richardson said. “We’re pleased to again partner with Factory to offer an event that spotlights these essential businesses.”

For the first time this year, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania will present an award to the top early-stage technology-based firm, according to BFTP_NEPA President & CEO Angelo J. Valletta.

This winner, which may be the grand prize winner or another competitor, will receive a $5,000 Ben Franklin Business and Technical Assistance grant for a specific project that is crucial to the company’s development.

“We are delighted to partner with our economic development colleagues to support entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley,” Valletta said. “With 40 years’ experience in investing in and networking entrepreneurs, including hosting many young firms at our award-winning Ben Franklin TechVentures technology business incubator, building the region’s innovation ecosystem is fundamental to our mission.”

The pitch contest will be hosted by Thompson and Liz Keptner, Director of Multimedia Innovation Center at PSU-LV. The panel of judges will include Sue Yee, founder & CEO of Active Data; Mike Tierney, founder & CEO of Stuffed Puffs; Chris LaBonge, owner of Doan Distillery; and Doug Engler, BFTP_NEPA Lehigh Valley Regional Manager.

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