Statewide initiative to receive $14.5 million
Pennsylvania’s 2021-22 General Fund budget provides $14.5 million in funding to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA), which funds the Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), a statewide economic development initiative that invests in and supports high-tech entrepreneurs and startups and innovative manufacturers. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania is one of the four BFTP statewide centers.
“We appreciate the support of the legislature and administration and their commitment to keep investing in innovation in Pennsylvania,” said Ryan E. Glenn, Ben Franklin’s Director of Statewide Initiatives. “Innovation is central to sustained growth in this new economy, and smart investments are critical if we want to remain competitive with other states as they try to build out their own high-tech economic development programs.”
Ben Franklin Technology Partners serves all 67 counties through four regionally based centers in Pittsburgh, State College, Bethlehem, and Philadelphia, with satellite offices across the state. Launched more than 35 years ago, Ben Franklin has become one of the most widely known and emulated state technology-based economic development programs in the nation.
The $14.5 million investment in the 2021-22 budget keeps Ben Franklin’s base appropriation level. The legislature sent the final spending plan to the governor over the weekend; he said he would sign it.
During the last fiscal year, the state provided an additional $1 million to each of the four statewide partners, matched by each of them, to invest in promising clients that were experiencing hardships due to the impact of COVID-19.
Investments in innovation work.
Recognizing the agility of early-stage technology firms and innovative manufacturers, the state also tagged Ben Franklin to help launch the “Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal” to rapidly mobilize innovative manufacturers to produce critical medical products in response to the virus.
Almost from the very first days of COVID-19, Ben Franklin and its clients have been working around the clock and contributing to efforts to address this public health issue in various ways, from treatments, to testing, to logistics, to other support mechanisms, including mobilizing or retooling manufacturing to produce the critical medical supplies and products to keep people healthy and safe.
The state’s investments remain critical in a highly competitive innovation market.
Other states are all too aware that technology represents a path forward. Ohio just created new innovation districts, with investments totaling more than $600 million to support entrepreneurs. New Jersey has an Innovation Evergreen Fund, which is expected to grow to $500 million to support high-tech startups.
“Now more than ever, Pennsylvania’s budget must continue to invest in innovation not only to fully restart and grow our economy but to help us remain competitive in the post-pandemic world,” Glenn said.