Keynoter Dustin Garis Encourages “Revolt Against Routine” in Crazy Socks
Many guests donned crazy socks in following with the theme of Disruptive Innovation at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners iXchange, held on Tuesday evening, May 9. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) hosted its annual event at the Zoellner Arts Center on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem. More than 450 technology entrepreneurs, business people, venture capitalists, economic developers, political leaders, and regional influencers from Ben Franklin’s 21-county service area attended.
Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and CEO of BFTP/NEP, began by sharing the findings of an independent study that show that the Ben Franklin Technology Partners statewide network has returned $3.60 in state tax revenue for every $1 invested in the program. The northeastern center recently released new information on its regional impacts since 1983, including the creation or retention of 44,799 jobs since 1983 and the creation of 492 new companies.
Paul described the progress in the expansion of the award-winning Ben Franklin TechVentures® business incubator/post incubator. The West Wing expansion will be completed this Fall. He also announced the expansion of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. Now 15 members strong, the network is among the largest in the world and allows BFTP/NEP to leverage its expertise in business incubation across its 21-county service area.
“It’s often said that entrepreneurs are in a race against insolvency,” said Paul. “Early-stage firms need to become profitable before their funds run out. Incubation is an important element in the Ben Franklin toolkit to accelerate the success of young firms.”
A stunt break dancer surprised guests to open speaker Dustin Garis’ keynote, Disruptive Innovation. Garis is known as “Chief Troublemaker” for his innovative approach to brand building, new business ventures, and corporate entrepreneurship. He believes that the root of all innovation begins and ends with the human experience. The challenge is seeing past the noise and focusing on the key drivers of market disruption. Garis presented approaches for reinventing the way team members view consumers, the market, and their role as innovators.
“Dustin encouraged our guests to break out of their routines to stimulate innovation for themselves and in their organizations,” said Chad Paul. “Autopilot doesn’t inspire creativity. The crazy socks that some of us are wearing tonight represent a simple way to ‘Revolt Against Routine.’”
Paul presented Innovation Awards to seven recipients who have achieved business success through Ben Franklin funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success, or have improved their companies through innovation. The 2017 Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards are:
The company that best exemplifies the quintessential entrepreneurial spirit: a combination of ingenuity, hard work, and innovation that has resulted in the creation of a successful and growing business venture.
Scott V. Dawson, President and Michael J. Dawson, Vice President
Core Business Solutions, Inc., Lewisburg
Core Business Solutions helps small companies become ISO 9001 certified as quickly and easily as possible. ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized quality management system for which certification is required of suppliers by many major purchasers. Core Business’ online approach and customized expert consulting have helped its clients achieve certification in four or fewer months with a 100% success rate. Brothers Mike and Scott Dawson co-founded Core Business Solutions and Ben Franklin provided the young company with business plan and sales process assistance, seed investments, and Solutions Network support. With updates to the ISO standards recently released, companies need to recertify, creating an even stronger demand for the company’s offerings. Core Business has been growing 30-40%, more than tripling revenue over the last three years, and now employs 18 and supports 12 service subcontractors.
The company that best demonstrates successful Ben Franklin business incubation. The business has been operated skillfully and confidently, meeting all challenges, from the development of the product concept, execution of the business and technical plan, successful start-up and operation, to graduation from the incubator.
Glemser Technologies Corporation, Bethlehem
Raymond G. Glemser, II, Ph.D., PresidentGlemser Technologies delivers life science IT and compliance solutions that bring safer pharmaceuticals to market faster and cheaper. Glemser’s content and quality management solutions, as well as consulting services, ensure a customer’s ability to meet and exceed regulatory standards. Founded in 1987 at the Ben Franklin Business Incubator, Glemser received seed capital, laboratory access, and business and commercialization assistance from Ben Franklin and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center. Once Glemser graduated from the incubator, it established its headquarters in a restored historic Bethlehem building. It currently employs 27. Ray Glemser, President, gives back to the community, advising and mentoring Lehigh University students as well as founders of emerging software companies.
The company that best demonstrates the commercialization of a unique, innovative product that creatively and effectively meets a market need.
Industrial Vision Systems, Bryn Mawr (formerly Lehigh County)
Walter B. McIlvain, President and Paul M. Bennett, Vice President
Industrial Vision Systems developed the VisionTally, a machine that utilizes digital cameras, laser line generators, laser rangefinders, and software algorithms to determine the dimensions of boards within a bundle of lumber without opening the bundle. VisionTally scans and measures bundles from both ends at once, providing actual board measurements that include wane and other defects. No board marks, special bundle preparation, nor attention from lumber personnel during the scanning process are required. VisionTally is currently the only tally system that has been certified by the National Hardwood Lumber Association. Ben Franklin investments in the company complemented substantial management capitalization. After overcoming difficult technical challenges, IVSi has grown its revenue and VisionTally has emerged as the most accurate, labor-free, and efficient end-tally system available in the marketplace.
Innovative Application of Technology
The company that strongly demonstrates a “break-the-mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
RADIUS Corporation, Kutztown
Saskia Foley, CEO and President
RADIUS designs and manufactures premium personal care products including eco-friendly toothbrushes, molded travel cases, dental floss, and organic toothpastes. The completely solar-powered, certified woman-owned company is committed to ongoing R&D to identify innovative and sustainable manufacturing approaches to make everyday products distinctive. Its Source Toothbrush uses replacement head technology with a handle made from recycled dollar bills, paper, and wood, reducing waste by 93%. Through Ben Franklin funding and connections, RADIUS received marketing and strategy support, teamed with the Plastics Manufacturing Center at Penn College to address a breakage problem with toothbrushes, and more recently worked with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center on facility optimization. Since last year, RADIUS has increased employment from 30 to 35, and in the past five years company revenue has increased by 3½ times. The firm is in the process of renovating and relocating into a larger building to respond to burgeoning demand.
The company that best exemplifies achievement in the manufacturing arena, showing a proven track record of success and an unbending commitment to achieving and maintaining excellence in manufacturing.
Simplex Industries, Inc., Scranton
Patrick Fricchione, President
Over its 45 years in business, Simplex Industries has become an industry leader in the manufacture of high-end, top-quality modular homes by incorporating innovative designs, working through complicated customized projects, and providing energy-efficient modular manufacturing. Simplex builds first homes through dream homes and commercial buildings from dormitories to hotels to light industrial facilities. Ben Franklin linked Simplex to Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to fully integrate AutoCAD 3-D printing, develop plans to transform two plants, and address production bottlenecks. The 3-D modeling significantly reduces change orders, unexpected costs, and delays. The efficiencies achieved by this work have helped Simplex to grow and employ more than 215 people in Scranton. In response to escalating demand, the company announced plans to add 40 more jobs and increase production with a $3 million investment in the plant.
Partnership – Two Winners
Individuals whose strong vision, dedication, and commitment have helped the Ben Franklin Technology Partners accomplish its goals. This support demonstrates a sincere desire to see the region thrive.
Paul Browne, Executive Director
Carbondale Technology Transfer Center, Carbondale
Paul Browne has led the Carbondale Technology Transfer Center for more than 20 years. CTTC’s space is divided among early-stage firms in technology-oriented, light industry, and food production sectors. In order to meet emerging needs in the region, Browne recently established an Electronics Makerspace that allows companies to rent time with pick-and-place machines, reflow ovens, and other equipment used in electronics production for prototyping and short production runs. As he has done in the past, Browne identified needs in the regional economy and found a way to secure the resources for the CTTC to address them. CTTC is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network, which, with 15 members, is among the largest incubator networks in the nation. Ben Franklin clients Prova Systems and Crew Systems are among CTTC’s resident companies. These firms benefit from Ben Franklin investments and staff support as well as Browne’s on-site expertise in business incubation.
Mary T. Webber, President
Webber Associates, Lemoyne
Mary Webber has provided legislative advocacy to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners statewide network since the program’s inception in the mid-1980s. She is well-respected by both democrats and republicans for her in-depth institutional knowledge, her vast experience, and her calm, reasoned demeanor. As a result of her tireless efforts, the Ben Franklin program has been funded through seven administrations, from Governor Thornburgh through Governor Wolf. The momentum and institutional wisdom generated over those years have allowed the Ben Franklin Technology Partners to emerge as the internationally recognized gold standard for technology-based economic development. In addition to her consuming and successful work as a lobbyist, Webber has served generously on a number of boards and as a volunteer and mentor. As she works toward retirement, she can reflect with satisfaction on the many Pennsylvanians whose jobs exist thanks to her outstanding work.