Erie Art Museum Announces Top Finalists of InnovationErie Design Competition 2014

Erie, PA, August 14, 2014 --( In its sixth year, InnovationErie announced the top four finalists who will move forward to the next round of competition to contend for over $30,000 in cash and assistance prizes. This is the second round of elimination, after fourteen semi-finalists exhibited their original designs at the Erie Art Museum this summer.

The four finalists will present their product designs and media arts concepts to an independent panel of judges. The top finalists include Chuck Kownacki’s “Barefoot Decking,” Fran DiSanti’s “a pennelo,” Dale and Susan Hofius’ “RailRyder,” and Jill Fosco’s “Makeup SomethingTM.”

“This year’s semi-finalist contestants were by far the most professional, developed, and competitive pool of entries than years past,” said InnovationErie committee chair and patent attorney at MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP, David Willoughby. “The final round of judging in September will be very tough. We have four very-strong contestants that exemplify the spirit of our design competition. I am certain this year’s grand-prize winner will go on to be successful in getting their business up and running.”

The fourteen semi-finalists’ designs are on view at the Erie Art Museum through August 31 in the Hagen Family Gallery. Visitors are invited to vote for the “Best in Show,” who will receive a cash prize. The semi-finalists include Chris Firment’s "Slick Loader," Chuck Kownacki’s "Barefoot Decking,"Eric Kinnear’s "LeveReach," Fran DiSanti’s "a pennello,” Sara Brown’s "Upcycled Plush Toys,” Kris Wheaton’s "Cthulhu vs. The Vikings,” Andy Flatley’s "Wonderphonium,” Dale and Susan Hofius’ "RailRyder,” Gabriel Lucian Olariu’s "Locklip Mounts,” Greg Ralph’s "The Helix Extractor,” Brian Edwards’ "Battle Fear,” Brian Millspaw’s "Trillium,” Jill Fosco’s "Make Up SomethingTM" and Teri A. Milner’s "Cord Clips." Descriptions of all product designs are available at

One of this year’s semi-finalists is already receiving national attention. Sarah Brown’s Upcycled Plush Toys” is a Crafts Finalist in the 2014 Martha Stewart “American Made Awards.” The website states that the competition is “recognizing ingenuity and excellence in the fields of crafts, design, food, and style for this year's American Made Awards.” Prizes include an opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart Living, $10,000 to grow the winner’s business, and more. Winners will be announced in October of this year.

InnovationErie Design Competition was created in an effort to catalyze creative economic development in Northwest Pennsylvania by supporting an innovative community of artists, scientists, artists, manufacturers, engineers, and designers (SAM & ED). The competition invited artists, inventors and thinkers to submit their product design ideas and applied media arts concepts for a chance to win over $30,000 in cash and professional assistance prizes, including intellectual property legal consulting services from McDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP, and consulting partnerships with the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University, Papa Advertising, and a new high-design award from Edinboro University.

The 2014 InnovationErie sponsors and partners include: Erie Art Museum, McDonald Illig Jones and Britton LLP, Papa Advertising, Franklin Technology Partners, Epic Web Studio, Erie Tech Incubator, NWIRC, Edinboro University, Eriez Magnetics, Penn State Erie-- The Behrend College, Adam Williams, Esq & Erie Business Law, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, Schaffner Knigh Minnaugh & Company, Civitas, IEEE.

A complete list of the winners’ services and cash prizes, as well as InnovationErie sponsors, can be found on the competition’s website, The deadline for next year’s competition is May 15, 2015. Interested candidates can apply at
Erie Art Museum
Carolyn Eller