Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin Announces Innovation Award Winners

Winners to be Honored at May 7th iXchange 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 iXchange event, scheduled for 5:30 PM on Thursday, May 7th at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University.

Awards will be presented to seven recipients, 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 outstanding 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 2015 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.
Highwood USA, LLC, Hometown
John Quarmley, President

Highwood USA demonstrates the successful leverage of Ben Franklin support to accelerate the growth of a young firm. Highwood is a manufacturer of extruded-plastic synthetic-wood products that are used for outdoor furniture and hot tubs/spas, as well as in exterior lumber applications such as decks, fencing, gazebos, and garden sheds. In addition to three financial investments, Ben Franklin linked Highwood with three college and university resources for product, process, and quality improvements.

Founded in 2003, Highwood proactively and continuously innovates its processes, introduces new products, and identifies and develops untapped niches in the marketplace. The company utilizes unique combinations of materials and manufacturing processes to produce state-of-the-art synthetic wood products. Highwood has expanded its facility twice to keep pace with growth, and has pursued a variety of environmental sustainability projects including high-efficiency lighting, a photovoltaic solar farm, and zero landfill. The company also actively invests in its employees through training and development, in support of its High-Performance Work Team management philosophy.
Highwood has begun another plant expansion that will add 23,000 more square feet. Through thoughtful planning, bold strategy, and skillful execution, the firm continues to grow, providing high-value jobs in Schuylkill County for years to come.  

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.
Luminaire Testing Laboratory, Inc., Allentown
Michael L. Grather, President and CEO

In 1989, Luminaire Testing Laboratory (LTL) was the first company to locate in Allentown’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, which is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. LTL, a provider of testing services for manufacturers of lighting products, grew steadily to employ seven full-time and two part-time workers. In 2010, owners sold the company to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the well-known international electrical testing company. UL moved the company from Bridgeworks to a 38,000 square-foot facility in Lehigh County. In 2012, the business unit was continuing to increase revenue and had grown to 17 full-time and two part-time employees. The founder recently launched another new company.  The LTL story demonstrates the importance of business incubators in providing support to early-stage firms. It portrays a successful business exit, executed by a founder who was able to attract an international business to the region that continued to create and retain good jobs. Finally, the LTL story illustrates the commitment of a serial entrepreneur who is now developing a second venture.

Product Innovation – The company that best demonstrates the commercialization of a unique, innovative product that creatively and effectively meets a market need.
LifeAire Systems, LLC, Allentown
Kathryn C. Worrilow, Ph.D., Founder and CEO

LifeAire Systems discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes revolutionary air purification systems for the healthcare industry. Its systems remove pathogens and other contaminants from the air more effectively than any other available. The system complements surface decontamination protocols, creating a healthier environment for patients and medical staff and enabling significant improvement in clinical outcomes and patient care. There is considerable international interest in the system.

LifeAire Systems’ products have been installed throughout the U.S. and are protecting the highly sensitive clinical setting of In Vitro Fertilization, resulting in an average of more than 50% improvement in clinical pregnancy rates. Other applications to reduce the spread of communicable diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, and measles may also evolve. More than 1.7 million patients in the U.S. develop Hospital Acquired Infections each year, costing $37-45B annually. The company’s technology will also help address this enormous issue. LifeAire Systems’ technology will impact a continuum of patient care, beginning with the protection of the embryo, to the infant in the neonatal intensive care unit, to the patient in the operating room, and to the elderly in long-term care facilities.

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

EthosGen is revolutionizing the $1 billion renewable energy market with a patented and proprietary Thermal Energy to Electric Power System that captures and converts waste heat into scalable on-site electrical power. The generator manufactured by EthosGen can leverage an abundant resource of waste heat that is significantly underutilized or rejected energy. Commercial, industrial, and defense end-users experience the highest energy costs and most critical energy resiliency challenges.

EthosGen’s competitive advantage provides for the greatest temperature range and output flow of waste heat, allowing the lowest-cost to manufacture and top operational productivity. As a renewable source, waste heat offers consistent energy surety over solar and wind power and consistent costs when compared with fossil fuels.

EthosGen won the 2014 Ben Franklin Venture Idol. In 2014, the company was selected from 2,500 applications as one of the top 25 technologies in Sir Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge.

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.
Medico Industries, Inc, Wilkes-Barre
Thomas Medico, President

Medico Industries produces metal parts for oil and gas drilling companies, the automotive industry, and other customers. A focus on constant improvement has enabled the company to establish a truly flexible manufacturing facility that has economically transitioned through many changes in industrial needs.

Medico focuses on consistency in output through the implementation of a quality system and appropriate professional certifications. The company worked with Ben Franklin and the Emerging Technology Applications Center at Northampton Community College to identify energy savings. The result was an 18% reduction in Medico’s total energy costs. Medico credits the Ben Franklin work with the creation of 54 Pennsylvania jobs and the retention of 200 more over the past two years, as well as substantially enhanced competitiveness in a highly price-sensitive industry.

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. This individual demonstrates a sincere and selfless desire to see the region thrive, and backs up his commitment with appropriate action.
Andrew Stanten, President
Altitude Marketing, Emmaus

Andrew Stanten is an unwavering supporter of regional entrepreneurship and freely shares his expertise and experience widely with start-ups, established manufacturers, and students in northeastern Pennsylvania. Stanten is frequently at Ben Franklin TechVentures, meeting one-on-one with Ben Franklin clients when asked, providing advice on strategy and marketing on a pro-bono basis. Stanten also provides feedback to start-ups in Ben Franklin’s strategic “Tiger” Sessions.

Having earned his MBA from Lehigh, Stanten is a frequent guest lecturer in marketing classes at his alma mater. He has led Marketing 101 courses at Lehigh’s Small Business Development Center for six years and mentors student groups in Lehigh’s IBE program. He is also involved with the Board of The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, a credit supplier to small businesses.

Stanten is extraordinarily generous in supporting entrepreneurs. He is committed to giving back, in particular to Ben Franklin clients, to Lehigh University, and to the northeastern Pennsylvania business community.

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.
Edward J. McCann, Jr., Retired COO
Berks County Workforce Investment Board, Reading

Ed McCann has been involved in Greater Reading workforce efforts for nearly 40 years, retiring this past fall. McCann has a unique skill in identifying how different companies and groups can network and benefit through partnerships. He has served on Ben Franklin’s Greater Reading/Schuylkill Advisory Board for more than 20 years and continues to sit on a number of Chamber committees and support community initiatives.

McCann has been a valuable resource in advising Ben Franklin about new programs and initiatives in Greater Reading that are of value to client companies. He is an active member of Ben Franklin’s Medical Device Consortium and provided strategic input with the Wall Street West initiative.

Ed McCann has been a staunch and loyal advocate for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. His work has provided Greater Reading companies with many opportunities to benefit even more from Ben Franklin funding, expertise, and networking support.

The iXchange 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 iXchange combines the presentation of Ben Franklin’s twentieth annual Innovation Awards, a keynote address by a national speaker, and two executive networking sessions. The registration fee for the iXchange is $75 in advance or $95 after April 27. To learn more or to register, go to or, e-mail, or call 610-758-5200.