Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin to Invest $939,885 in Regional Economic Development

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $939,885 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP’s goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage. To achieve this goal, Ben Franklin staff concentrate their efforts on three key areas:

  1.  developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
  2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
  3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

 Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 15,820 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,645 existing jobs, to start 442 new companies, and to develop 1,189 new products and processes. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

 BFTP/NEP owns and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem at which it is headquartered. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

 Ben Franklin announces the following early-stage company investments that are provided to clients in the form of loans.

 Bio-Energy Holdings, Greentown, Pike County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Continue commercializing the patented A-Ceptor™, an oil/water/solids separator, interceptor, and clarifier for use in renewable energy recycling and water treatment equipment servicing for the biodiesel, food service, and oil and gas industries. The A-Ceptor has a unique clarification technology that provides cost-effective water treatment and recycle/reuse. It allows clients to harvest high-quality feedstock for biodiesel and other renewable fuels from waste streams while keeping them in compliance with local municipal discharge requirements. Clients are able to get more grease and better grease feed stocks to enhance their profits.

 Cernostics, Inc., Danville, Montour County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Validate a diagnostic and prognostic test that predicts the risk of developing esophageal cancer, the fastest-growing cancer by incidence in western countries. The test employs a “spatial systems biology approach” to pathological testing that simultaneously evaluates multiple cells and processes in a single biopsy. The current process is largely manual and subjective. Cernostics is developing this technology in collaboration with Geisinger Health System, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, and the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.   

 EggZack, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $92,500
Complete software development for EggZack to easily integrate its platform with that of strategic partners and resellers. EggZack markets a proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that requires only a single entry to update a client’s website and other marketing functions, broadcasting the information immediately to 19 types of media, including social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as the company website and blog, email, local media, and publications. Such tools are needed by small- to medium-sized retailers, restaurants, and other companies to promote themselves more effectively and profitably.

 GiveGab, Dunmore, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $95,079
Through onboarding and engaging with up to 600,000 targeted nonprofits, populate GiveGab’s proprietary web-based software platform with volunteer opportunities for users, making it the largest platform in the world. GiveGab is a social network and a software tool that helps volunteer managers at nonprofits, schools and businesses create and manage volunteer events, promote their programs, recruit volunteers, track hours, and report on the work they are doing in the community. GiveGab also helps volunteers find local opportunities for which they have a passion, log volunteer hours, reflect on experiences, connect and communicate with friends, and create a volunteer resume. The tool uses a single network solution rather than multiple, separate networks.

 MyNetwork, LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Launch MyNetwork’s proprietary on-line tool at select colleges and universities and also to the general public. MyNetwork has developed a cloud-based contact relationship management application designed to help college students and professionals visualize, foster, and strengthen relationships with the connections in their various social and professional networks.       

Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete development of a bill-of-material authoring tool as a module in a cloud-based software solution for electronic circuit board manufacturers. Current sourcing and procurement models in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly inefficient. Orbweaver’s software platform will allow for more well-negotiated terms with suppliers, thereby reducing costs and increasing productivity for clients.

 Skinny Eats, LLC, Friendsville, Susquehanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Design, lay out, procure equipment, and build a manufacturing and R&D facility to produce salad dressings and dips. These products are dispensed in a novel way, as a foam, delivering outstanding flavor using real ingredients with minimal calories. Skinny Eats’ dressings have just 15 calories per serving, 90% fewer calories, carbs, sugar, and fat than traditional dressings, and no cholesterol or trans fat. The product has zero points on Weight Watchers PointsPlus® program.

 Vitrius Technologies, LLC., Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $200,000
Develop the marketing team, secure engineering support for bidding and design processes, and establish strategic dealer networks and distribution channels for this manufacturer of innovative windows for the industrial window market. Vitruis’ metal-clad composite windows combine three proprietary innovations, producing both heat and power as well as greatly increasing energy efficiency. The windows have superior longevity and renewable energy profiles when compared with competitors.

Zzyzx Polymers, LLC, Allentown, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $150,000
Transition Zzyzx Polymers’ manufacturing process from lab-scale to commercial-scale to produce specialty plastics and new types of recycled plastics. Zzyzx uses a patented process that was developed over a decade of university research. This process allows Zzyzx to recycle plastics that would otherwise be sent to landfills, and to produce high-value plastic compounds that have increased impact resistance, conductivity, and other important characteristics.

Ben Franklin announces the following established manufacturer company investments. Ben Franklin provides 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation in established manufacturers.

 Benton Foundry Inc., Benton, Columbia County
Ben Franklin Investment: $28,470
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center
Assess manufacturing processes at this producer of gray and ductile iron castings to identify ways to lower energy consumption. Conduct an investment-grade energy efficiency assessment of the plant, as well as an analysis of compressed air usage and system efficiencies to save energy, enhance product quality, and reduce costs.

 East Coast Erosion Control, LLC, Bernville, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Improve the Enterprise Resource Planning procurement, work order management, shop floor control systems, and inventory management at this manufacturer of erosion control products for the construction industry. This will allow the company to improve back-end process efficiency, enhance delivery performance, and reduce costs, thereby facilitating sales efforts and growth.

 Reading Alloys, Inc., Robesonia, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $16,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Develop a strategy for shop floor control, establish system requirements, select a software vendor, and develop a project implementation plan that provides a foundation for batch record management. Reading Alloys’ master alloys and advanced engineering materials are used for critical applications in aerospace, marine, petroleum, medical, and foundry industries.

 Suburban Testing Laboratories, Inc., Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $7,836
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Define current and future facility requirements for a new, centralized walk-in incubator room to service departments within Suburban Testing’s facility. Suburban provides environmental, product, and water testing and analyses for industry and municipalities.