In spring 2020, Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority provided a one-time $1 million Technology Development Grant to each of the four statewide Ben Franklins, matched by each, to invest in promising clients that were strongly affected by COVID-19. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) utilized that funding in its “Return to Health” program, with emergency investments totalling $2 million in 20 early-stage firms and 21 innovative manufacturers.
Clients recently reported the total impacts of those investments as follows:
240 jobs created
1,324 jobs retained
$8,660,352 in company match of Ben Franklin investments
10 new patents
31 new products and processes
COVID-19 has demonstrated that investments in innovation will help both reboot the economy and save lives.
As would be expected from Ben Franklin’s diverse portfolio of early-stage firms and industries, COVID-19 had varying impacts on clients. Supply chain disruptions, customer demand declines, diminished abilities to engage in sales activities, and delayed project implementations all led to cash flow interruptions. Some companies experienced invigorated demand, especially those that offered products or services to address the pandemic. Some companies were able and resilient to pivot to address new opportunities.
Many Ben Franklin manufacturer clients were partway through the development of innovative product and process enhancements prior to the pandemic, and failing to complete them would have jeopardized previous work and/or stalled the companies’ progress. BFTP/NEP’s investments in manufacturers improved safe manufacturing workflow for new marketing initiatives and improved manufacturing processes. The companies engaged consultants to help them quickly, safely, and efficiently return to work, recover, and plan for growth. These clients implemented plans for recovery and facilitated job retention and creation.
“If there was ever any question about Ben Franklin’s importance in supporting Pennsylvania’s economy, COVID-19 has provided a resounding answer,” said Angelo J. Valletta, President and CEO of BFTP/NEP. “Since the early days of the pandemic, Ben Franklin clients helped keep Pennsylvanians employed. Our clients did so while developing products and services to address the crisis. Ben Franklin clients innovated against COVID-19 and helped position us for economic recovery.”