Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin Announces Innovation Award Winners

Winners to be Honored at May 12th i xchange Event

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania has announced the winners of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards. Winners will be honored at the Ben Franklin i xchange event, scheduled for 5:30 PM on Wednesday, May 12th at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University.

Awards will be presented in eight categories, to companies or individuals who have achieved business success through Ben Franklin funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success, or have improved their businesses through innovation. Each award recipient represents a person or company that exemplifies achievement in that particular category.

The purposes of the innovation awards are to congratulate winners on their success and achievement, to highlight the effectiveness of the Ben Franklin program, and to inform entrepreneurs and established manufacturers about the resources that are available to them in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The 2010 Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards winners are:

Entrepreneurial Achievement
An individual who 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.
Mark E. Granahan, General Manager, Texas Instruments-Lehigh Valley
Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
The power chip technology developed at Texas Instruments (TI) -Lehigh Valley increases efficiency in computer systems by up to 20%, reducing the heat emitted by power supplies and redirecting that energy to the device itself. If this technology was adopted in computer systems world-wide, the reduction of power use would equal the output of 12 to 13 coal-fired power plants annually. CICLON Semiconductor, TI-Lehigh Valley’s predecessor, launched at the Ben Franklin Business Incubator, receiving a $150,000 Ben Franklin investment and links to crucial Lehigh University facilities. Just two years later, CICLON graduated, becoming the anchor tenant in the post-incubator space at Ben Franklin TechVentures. The company raised $24 million in venture capital investments, and its products have been designed into devices offered by world leaders in electronics. After beginning with three employees in 2004, CICLON now employs more than 50. In February 2009, CICLON was acquired by Texas Instruments. All local jobs were retained, and the company plans to continue to grow in Bethlehem.
Academic Partner
An organization associated with an institute of higher learning that has contributed its time and expertise to supporting the Ben Franklin program. This organization’s contribution has clearly surpassed “normal” expectations for involvement with and support of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
National Training Center for Microelectronics, Northampton Community College Bethlehem
John W. Kratz, Director
Northampton Community College’s National Center for Microelectronics (NTCµ) transfers and deploys applied technology to the factory floor by imparting knowledge and skills to the workforces at electronics manufacturing companies. This allows engineers and workers to perform more efficiently by understanding successful manufacturing techniques that reduce waste and increase first-pass yields. Employees whose technology skills are up-to-date and engaged increase bottom-line company profits.  NTCµ offers certification and technology-based courses that enable companies to more effectively compete in the world marketplace. Ben Franklin provided three years of seed funding to NTCµ in the late 1980s, and the Center soon became self-sufficient. Recognized worldwide, the Center currently conducts training programs in the United States and foreign countries such as China, India, France and Singapore. In addition to the hundreds of students that attend the Center’s public course offerings, NTCµ serves an average of 30 companies annually. The growing client roster includes Honda America, Motorola, Siemens, Lockheed Sanders, Schlumberger, and JDS Uniphase.

Incubator Graduate
The company that has best demonstrated 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.
Particle Sciences, Inc., Bethlehem
Mark Mitchnick, CEO
Particle Sciences is a full-service nanotechnology and fine particle contract research organization primarily serving life sciences companies. Particle Sciences provides clients with the services of industry-specific analytic and bioanalytic labs in addition to well-equipped formulation, characterization, and clean room facilities. Clients range from start-ups to large publicly-traded pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. Ben Franklin invested $315,000 over three years in the company for the development of a specific encapsulated product which was ultimately commercialized. Particle Sciences currently occupies 15,000 square feet in Bethlehem, and will be expanding locally in 2010. Over the last three years, despite the economy, company revenue has grown 15 to 20% year-over-year, and the staff of four that graduated from the Ben Franklin Business Incubator has now grown to more than 40.

Product Innovation
The company that best demonstrates the commercialization of a unique, innovative product that creatively and effectively meets a market need.
Discovery Machine, Inc., Williamsport
Anna Griffith, CEO and Dr. Todd Griffith, President and CTO
Discovery Machine (DMI) provides systems that enable companies to capture, manage, automate, optimize, embed, and network the knowledge found in the experience and intellect of their key employees. The company developed a suite of novel, patented software tools. The DMI methodology and supporting technology captures, automates, amplifies, and leverages the productivity of staff experts. Companies’ needs to retain the expertise of staff will grow as the “baby boomer” generation continues to move into retirement, taking their knowledge and experience with them. In addition, DMI’s technology helps protect a company’s institutional knowledge in the event it experiences a merger or acquisition, and/or staff recruiting by competition. Ben Franklin invested $335,000 in DMI in 2007 and 2008, and staff more than doubled last year. The company’s customer roster includes well-known and influential technology leaders including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Textron, Bechtel, DARPA, NASA, NAVAIR, and the Office of Naval Research.

Innovative Application of Technology
The company that best demonstrates a “break the mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into a manufacturing environment.
American Polarizers, Inc., Reading
Nicholas K. Bentley, President
American Polarizers is known worldwide as a manufacturer of optical products including lenses, displays, windows, filters, polarizers, and 3-D lenses. These applications are used in the aircraft, electronics, photographic, animated display, consumer and general scientific industries. The company’s products are sold under the trade names 3DLUX™, Ecplise®, Glare Bar™, and Polarmotion™. Ongoing innovation is required to create increasingly strong bonds for the lamination of multiple layers of material or film as composite layered structures. Ben Franklin linked the company with the Electrotechnology Applications Center at Northampton Community College to facilitate lamination technology, lamination process improvements, and product development in elevated-temperature applications. The company currently employs 21 in the building it owns in the City of Reading.

Manufacturing Achievement
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.
Clark Technology Systems, Inc., Milton
Faith D. Clark, President
Clark Technology Systems specializes in engineering services and the fabrication of an extensive range of fluid- and air-handling systems for industries worldwide. Since its founding in 1987, the company has designed, engineered, fabricated, and delivered processing systems for industrial manufacturers, power plants, petroleum refineries, paper mills, liquid natural gas producers, and air separation plants. Clark has grown its market share by becoming a strategic partner with customers, producing systems that are better, faster, and with lower costs of ownership than the competition. Ben Franklin invested a total of $120,000 in Clark in 1995, 2008, and 2009. As a result of its truly customized approach to customer service and Ben Franklin support, Clark is expanding. The company has added 28,000 square feet of manufacturing space, increased employment to 33, and improved sales, with substantial additional growth anticipated.

Entrepreneurial Advocate
An individual from the community who has contributed his leadership, time, and expertise to helping entrepreneurs and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners accomplish their goals. He demonstrates a sincere and selfless desire to see the region thrive, and backs up that commitment with appropriate action.
John T. Hoback, President
Z&H Enterprise Solutions, Ltd., East Stroudsburg
John Hoback’s consulting company, Z&H Enterprise Solutions, offers an array of accounting, managerial, and executive services designed to help high-potential, technology-based businesses grow and prosper. As a member of Ben Franklin’s Solutions Network, Hoback has completed more than 20 business reviews and technical project reviews on a pro bono basis, bringing a rare blend of business savvy and technical expertise to the task. He has worked with numerous Ben Franklin clients and prospects, developing their business plans, preparing them for trade shows and other marketing opportunities, and helping them to better understand target markets. Hoback’s deep expertise, patience, and understanding of the challenges of entrepreneurship allow him to effectively coach young companies. His ability to effectively communicate with both technical and business investment communities renders him an extremely valuable resource to Ben Franklin’s early-stage clients.
Special Achievement
An individual whose strong vision, dedication and commitment to the program have helped to bring about a better business environment for Ben Franklin clients.
Dr. Michael A. MacDowell, President
Misericordia University, Dallas
As Misericordia’s president, Dr. MacDowell has encouraged the faculty and its 2,735 students to participate in projects that lead to technology commercialization and support regional job growth. MacDowell is the chairman of the board of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Technology Institute (NPTI), an organization that serves the 14 colleges located in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Monroe counties. He also previously served as the chairman of the Council of Presidents, a collaboration among Luzerne County’s five colleges and universities, and as president of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities. A number of initiatives are the result of his work. NPTI set the foundation for the creation and management of two Keystone Innovation Zones, bringing more than $5 million to the community in economic development funding. NPTI established a technology transfer agreement between Penn State and NPTI member schools, allowing them to accelerate the commercialization of viable intellectual property. In addition, MacDowell was instrumental in supporting the sustainability plan and transition of the Wall Street West initiative from Ben Franklin to NPTI, with plans to create a National Center for Organizational Continuity. In these ways and many more, Dr. Michael MacDowell has significantly improved the technology economy of northeastern Pennsylvania.

The i xchange is the premier business technology networking event in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last year, more than 600 technology entrepreneurs, business people, economic developers, venture capitalists, political leaders, educators, students, bankers, lawyers, and accountants from Ben Franklin’s 21-county service area attended, and even more are expected this year.

The i xchange will combine the presentation of Ben Franklin’s sixteenth annual Innovation Awards with a keynote address by Dr. Joseph Michelli. Michelli is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who has been described as “catching what is right in the world and playfully sparking people and businesses to grow toward the extraordinary.” In his presentation, “Innovation Leads Transformation,” Michelli will explore the critical importance of creativity and innovation for delivering customer value and creating business opportunities.

The entrance fee for the i xchange is $50 in advance or $55 the day of the event. To learn more or to register, go to, e-mail, or call 610-758-5200.
About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania:

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania links companies with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.  The Center strategy encompasses three key areas: developing early-stage, technology-based companies; helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technologies and business practices; and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies. The northeastern center is headquartered on the campus of Lehigh University and is part of a four-center, state-funded economic development initiative.