(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority will receive its first funding increase in 13 years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Acting Secretary Neil Weaver along with the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority announced $16.4 million in Challenge Grants funding in a news release on July 29.

Each of the four Ben Franklin partners will receive more than $4.1 million in funding. The partners provide access to capital, business expertise, technology commercialization services, and resources to advance new technologies.

The partners may offer company investments, business and technical assistance, technology and entrepreneurial infrastructure, and administration expenses.

In 2021, Rebecca Styn, owner of Room 33 in downtown Erie, and Blind Tiger won the first place prize of $50,000 in startup funding in the Northwest PA Ben Franklin’s Big Idea Contest, along with the People’s Choice Award of $2,500.

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The mission of the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority is to encourage and coordinate programs and investments, which advance the competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s companies and universities in the global economy, a news release said.