Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin Announces Innovation Award Winners

Winners to be Honored at May 6th 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 Tuesday, May 6th at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University.

 Awards will be presented in seven categories to eight recipients, 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 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 2014 Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards winners are:

 Entrepreneurial Achievement – 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.
Saladax Biomedical, Inc., Bethlehem
Kevin Harter, President and CEO

Optimizing the levels of chemotherapy drugs is critical to effectively treat cancer while minimizing harmful side effects. Saladax Biomedical develops and commercializes MyCare™ diagnostic blood test kits that quickly, accurately, and inexpensively personalize drug levels for optimal results. The company is currently expanding MyCare distribution into China.

Saladax originally planned to launch in New Jersey, but chose instead to start in Ben Franklin TechVentures®. Ben Franklin invested a total of more than $300,000 in initial seed funding in Saladax, and also helped the company refine its investor presentation and advised company leaders on many start-up issues.

Saladax now holds 82 international patents with additional patent applications pending, and has raised more than $43 million in follow-on equity funding. The company is working with Bristol Myers Squibb to develop biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Starting with two original founders, Saladax now employs a total of 45, who collectively contribute to the improvement of the human condition.

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.       
Viddler, Inc., Bethlehem
Donna DeMarco, Co-Founder

Viddler delivers secure, interactive media solutions for thousands of business communication, learning, and publishing clients in more than 150 countries. The company backs its solutions with an exceptional client support reputation that assures complete video and media delivery, measurement, visibility, and play anywhere in the world from all leading devices. 

Viddler graduated from Ben Franklin TechVentures® in September 2011, after five years as a resident company. Ben Franklin invested a total of $450,000 in the company over several years, and helped Viddler form its initial business model and secure early angel investor funding. Viddler has since attracted $3 million in outside investment. The company started with two founders and now employs 22, and is headquartered in the new Southside Bethlehem PI facility.

Product Innovation – The company that best demonstrates the commercialization of a unique, innovative product that creatively and effectively meets a market need.
XiGo Nanotools, Bethlehem
Sean Race, CEO

XiGo Nanotools has commercialized three table-top devices for characterizing the nature of particles, or emulsion droplets, in liquids using patented magnetic resonance imaging technology. Nano-particles are minute; they typically have diameters that are 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair. The Acorn Area rapidly measures the wetted surface area of nano-particles, a key predictor of material performance and quality control that has application in many industries, including energy, electronics, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals. Currently, there are no other efficient methods to measure this important metric in real time, non-invasively, and without dilution.

 Ben Franklin invested a total of $400,000 in XiGo, and the company is a resident in Ben Franklin TechVentures. When compared with the competition, the Acorn Area product line is 500 times faster in determining measurements, has a 25% lower price point, is 1/5 of the size, and is lighter weight, while still maintaining high levels of sensitivity and precision.

 Innovative Application of Technology – The company that best demonstrates a “break the mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
Vitrius Technologies, Wilkes-Barre
Patrick Son, CEO and Founder

 Vitrius Technologies provides smart window systems for the residential, commercial, and architectural markets. Vitruis’ smart window systems combine three proprietary innovations, creating windows that produce heat and power as well as greatly increase overall energy efficiency of the building. The windows have longevity and renewable energy profiles that are superior to competitors.

 Metalux architectural cladding is a metal-finishing technology that bonds metals to composite substrates, providing superior protection and durability while using 80% less metal than traditional processes. The windows integrate optically clear energy-producing glass, which can also be used in security glazing. Utilizing dynamic radiant glass technology, electrical resistance created in the window forms a thermal barrier between the inside and outside of the building, allowing for even more energy conservation. The technology may also be intelligently controlled to perform as a primary or auxiliary heat source, capable of heating entire buildings.

 Ben Franklin invested a total of $320,000 in Vitrius, and provided financial support for sales efforts and industry-required testing. The company is now beginning to commercialize its innovative products.

 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.
Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, Reading
Andrea Funk, CEO

Cambridge-Lee Industries is a manufacturer and distributor of copper tubing for water supply, air conditioning, refrigeration, and commercial applications, as well as a distributor of copper-focused industrial metals. The company is the second largest plumbing tube manufacturer in the country, with one out of every four buildings having copper tubes manufactured in the U.S. by Cambridge-Lee.  In addition, the company recently constructed a new 195,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to produce micro-fin thin-wall copper tubes that are used for the commercial HVAC market. These tubes are highly energy-efficient and respond to new government requirements.

 Cambridge-Lee opened a state-of-the-art distribution center adjacent to its main facility in 2006. With help from Ben Franklin, Lehigh University, and the Enterprise Systems Partners, this facility has less than half the footprint but equal capacity of the original warehouse. More recently, the company worked with Ben Franklin and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center to identify substantial energy-savings opportunities.

 The new plant manufactures under stringent consistency requirements, permitting material efficiencies and labor savings that are necessary for successful competition. When the project is complete, Cambridge-Lee will have hired as many as 250 new workers in addition to the 300 employees already employed by the company at the time the project started, rendering it an even more significant employer in the Greater Reading area.

 Special Achievement
Individuals whose strong vision, dedication, and commitment to the program have helped to bring about a better business environment for Ben Franklin clients.
Senator John R. Gordner
Senator John P. Blake

 Senators John Gordner and John Blake have exhibited tremendous wisdom, persuasiveness, and tenacity in supporting the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners at a time of difficult state budget constraints. Their effective bi-partisan legislative efforts on behalf of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners will result in much-needed investment capital to significantly leverage private investment in promising companies for future job growth. 

 The Pennsylvania Economy League determined that the Ben Franklin Technology Partners has returned $3.60 to the Pennsylvania treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. Senators Gordner and Blake recognize the importance of the Commonwealth’s continued support for a program that delivers proven returns on investment in both human and financial terms. They worked tirelessly to pass the crucial Innovate in PA legislation that will provide a three-year infusion of funds to allow Ben Franklin to make impactful investments in deserving Pennsylvania companies. The results of their determined and consistent efforts will be additional highly paid jobs and an improved state economy for decades to come.

Partnership – An individual 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.
Governor Dick Thornburgh

Thirty-one years ago, our state economy was in a precarious position. The Commonwealth was almost completely reliant on heavy industry, and those sectors were downsizing rapidly. Pennsylvania needed a visionary to help diversify and transition the economy if it hoped to survive and prosper in the coming years. Governor Dick Thornburgh was that visionary.

 Governor Thornburgh recognized economic trends and invented and executed a new program that focused on technology to create and retain highly paid, sustainable jobs. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners would invest in and support early-stage technology companies, and help established manufacturers to apply technology, all to Pennsylvania’s economic advantage.

 Today, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners is recognized internationally as the gold standard for technology-based economic development. But the most important measure of its success is in the companies and people who have been helped. Since 1989, Ben Franklin statewide has created 51,000 jobs in client firms and boosted the Pennsylvania economy by more than $23.5 billion. Ben Franklin has worked with hundreds of companies at their most vulnerable times, positioning them for success.

 Governor Dick Thornburgh was the leader who had the foresight to establish the Ben Franklin Partnership in 1982. His idea emerged as a resounding success and his work a lasting legacy. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners has dramatically strengthened the Pennsylvania economy and improved the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs, workers, and their families.

 The i xchange is a premier business technology networking event in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last year, more than 550 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 nineteenth annual Innovation Awards with a keynote address by Jeff Hoffman. A seasoned veteran of seven start-ups, including the highly successful internet company, Hoffman will share techniques that increase innovation and operational efficiency for both early-stage and established companies in today’s markets. Using colorful anecdotes and lessons learned from some of the world’s most profitable companies, he will present new rules for success. Hoffman will provide attendees with an immediately actionable list of tasks and tools that they can use to dramatically improve their organizations and increase their odds of sustainable prosperity.

 The registration fee for the i xchange is $65 in advance or $75 the day of the event. To learn more or to register, go to or, e-mail, or call 610-758-5200.

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania:

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking early-stage technology-based firms and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. It is part of an award-winning, four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners has returned $3.60 to the Pennsylvania treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program.