Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin Announces Innovation Award Winners

Winners to be Honored at May 17th 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 5:00 PM on Tuesday, May 17th at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, Bethlehem.

Awards will be presented to six 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 2016 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.
Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc., Bethlehem
Rea Ann Silva, Founder and CEO, and Catherine Bailey, Chief Operating Officer
Rea.deeming Beauty manufactures the award-winning elliptical-shaped beautyblender® makeup applicator. Combining an innovative design and material, the applicator allows for line- and streak-free makeup application. It has gained wide market acceptance in both the professional and consumer markets. Rea.deeming recently completed work with Ben Franklin and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to enhance its production and fulfillment capabilities to meet steep increases in demand. The result was a productivity increase of more than 28%. Relocating to the Lehigh Valley in 2007 with two founders, the company now employs 76. It won the 2015 Fastest Growing Company in the Lehigh Valley and has more than tripled revenue over the past three years.

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.
Crew Systems Corporation, Carbondale Technology Transfer Center, Carbondale
Gary Piorkowski, President
Crew Systems designs and manufactures military life support equipment – helmets and breathing systems for military aircrew. The company specializes in chemical and biological protective gear that is flexible enough to be used by military pilots as well as homeland security personnel. Crew Systems, with only two years lead time, designed and manufactured a special helmet and respirator system used by pilots involved with security for the 2012 London Olympics. The firm was among the first resident companies in the Carbondale Technology Transfer Center, which is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network.  Crew Systems is now an anchor tenant in the incubator and employs 12 people.

Innovative Application of Technology
A company that strongly demonstrates a “break-the-mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
Custom Processing Services, Reading
Gregory J. Shemanski, President and Jeffrey A. Klinger, Vice President
Custom Processing Services (CPS) reduces larger particles into ultra-fine and nano-sized particles for chemicals, polymers, pigments, pharmaceuticals, and other applications. CPS has earned successive Ben Franklin investments, first as an early-stage firm and then as an established manufacturer, in work ranging from refining the business plan to substantial process and energy improvements. The company has three manufacturing facilities in Greater Reading, the newest of which is for food-grade and pharmaceutical processing. A new warehouse at CPS’s East Greenville facility allows enhanced material handling and storage capabilities. The company constantly innovates to develop creative solutions to meet client needs. The firm can now perform contract manufacturing on-site at clients’ plants. Since its inception, CPS has achieved double-digit revenue growth each year. The company now employs 138 and plans to expand its workforce by 50.

Innovative Application of Technolog
A company that strongly demonstrates a “break-the-mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
Hydro Recovery, LP, Blossburg
Chris Wunz, CEO
Hydro Recovery is developing and optimizing a process for the economic extraction of valuable materials from residual frac water from natural gas wells. Hydro Recovery’s process recycles the used water for treatment and reclamation. Recycling frac water saves millions of gallons of freshwater each year and eliminates the discharge of treated water into waterways. With Ben Franklin investments, Hydro Recovery worked with Penn State on basic R&D associated with the new process. The company now employs more than 50 people.

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.
Vigon International, Inc., East Stroudsburg
Stephen Somers, President
Vigon International is a supplier of high-quality specialty ingredients, providing more than 2,000 different products to clients in the flavor, fragrance, and cosmetic markets. Comprehensive manufacturing and distribution capabilities coupled with key strategic partnerships with major global ingredient manufacturers has established Vigon as one of the most progressive companies in the industry. The firm leveraged Ben Franklin’s investment to work with Lehigh University and the Enterprise Systems Partners to develop and implement a system that dramatically increased workflow efficiency, enhanced profitability, and positioned the company for continued growth. The company has increased revenue nearly 30% over the last three years and now employs 69.

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.
Douglas R. Petillo, Managing Partner
Navigant Ventures, Glen Mills
Navigant Ventures works with high-potential technology and business services companies to accelerate profitable growth. Doug Petillo, as founder and managing partner, guides each client’s strategy, capital plans, product development, and sales execution. Petillo has served as a Ben Franklin resource for more than a decade and has completed 14 business plan reviews, participated in nine tiger sessions, and advised many early-stage clients, frequently on a pro-bono basis. He has referred promising companies to Ben Franklin and has worked with clients to prepare them for funding, including repeatedly as a Ben Franklin Venture Idol panelist. With deep experience in venture capital, Doug Petillo provides valuable insight to young technology firms and is an avid supporter of Ben Franklin’s mission.

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