The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) has received a $100,000 grant from the BB&T Economic Growth Fund, a donor-advised charitable fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. The funding will support the fit out costs of a new, expanded student, faculty, and alumni collaboration area to create the Lehigh University “Hatchery” business incubator within the new Ben Franklin TechVentures® (BFTV) West Wing on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus.
The 20,000 square foot West Wing expansion, which is currently under construction, will allot approximately 4,000 square feet to the Lehigh Hatchery for a student, faculty, and alumni collaboration area in partnership with Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity, and Innovation. The mission of this new space is to support the creation of the next generation of high-technology manufacturing employers in the region.
“At Ben Franklin, we have deep experience in creating high-technology jobs that pay family-sustaining wages by investing in start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs’ ideas,” said Chad Paul, President and CEO of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “We appreciate the support of BB&T and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation in helping us extend our reach into the university so that Ben Franklin TechVentures can be leveraged to further support Lehigh’s student entrepreneurs.”
The Hatchery will be a multi-pronged program for start-up enterprises launched by members of the Lehigh community. It will be tailored specifically to those who have launched or are considering launching businesses and are working to meet the demands of growing enterprises. It will also continue to meet the demands of a rigorous academic program.
Ben Franklin TechVentures West Wing will be a four-floor addition that will include business incubation, office, and meeting space for early-stage technology-based companies. These spaces will complement the existing wet labs and address the expanding office needs of BFTV resident clients. Forty-one early-stage firms, employing more than 170 people, are currently located in BFTV in more than 109,000 total square feet. Since 1983, the incubator has graduated 68 successful companies that together have created more than 6,400 jobs and grossed more than $1.2 billion in recurring annual revenue.
The location of Ben Franklin TechVentures on Lehigh’s campus allows TechVentures resident companies access to the university’s equipment, resources, faculty expertise, and student manpower. Concurrently, through the Baker Institute, it allows student, faculty, and alumni across all disciplines direct access to and interaction with entrepreneurs and early-stage firms at Ben Franklin TechVentures. The student, faculty, and alumni collaboration area will allow BFTP/NEP the opportunity to build upon and expand this mutually beneficial relationship with The Baker Institute and Lehigh University.
The building expansion is an extension of the success that BFTP/NEP has enjoyed with TechVentures serving as a “job creation factory” that leverages investments to create and retain highly paid, sustainable jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania. The facility provides resources to entrepreneurs and start-ups at their most vulnerable times, vastly enhancing their chances of success.
In addition to the direct economic benefits of BFTP/NEP clients’ activities, their products solve global problems, advance health care, and improve the human condition. Through the new student, faculty, and alumni collaboration area, members of the Lehigh community will have direct interaction with the day-to-day operations of BFTP clients, providing them with the experience and intuition to grow successful companies of their own.
Coverage via Lehigh Valley Business.