The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $593,450 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 16,214 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 22,155 existing jobs, to start 458 new companies, and to develop 1,279 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.
Cerora Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $150,000
Develop and commercialize the company’s first product, Cerora Qumpass™, a cloud-based software as a service medical-grade, neurodiagnostic solution. The company’s MindReader™ is a portable electroencephalogram (EEG) brain wave biosensor that measures the electrical activity of the brain. It combines cutting-edge advancements in EEG design with cognitive and voice-based data streams, all integrated with software to provide real-time, objective neurodiagnostic information in the field. The rapid diagnosis of brain disease and injuries can lead to early and effective intervention with resulting cost savings, improved clinical outcomes, and increased patient satisfaction for people with concussions/traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurologic and psychiatric conditions. There are currently no affordable, portable, and accurate neuro-diagnostics available to physicians, nurses, first responders, and trainers for use in real time.
Map Decisions, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Provide sales, marketing, product development, and customer service support. Map Decisions produces infrastructure asset and work management software and provides field mapping and data management services. The company’s secure, cloud-based mobile platform is designed for state and local governments, utilities, oil and gas, transportation, and construction industries. Map Decisions helps organizations increase operational efficiency, improve customer service, reduce compliance risks and decrease operational costs.
Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
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.
Pivitec, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $21,100
Continue commercialization and enhancement of hardware and software products for this developer of audio streaming and distribution products. Live performances in theaters and houses of worship require a variety of approaches to provide performers the ability to hear their own performances as well as cues. Wired systems currently in use require extensive cabling, limiting performers’ movements, and have limited audio source reception. Pivitec uses wireless mobile devices as interactive controllers for its network devices to address these problems.
PROVA Systems and Technologies, Inc., Carbondale
Ben Franklin Investment: $40,000
Support the commercialization of PROVA™ Systems’ Fleet Genius® PRO, a fleet management software system for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The software integrates PROVA’s plug-and-play fleet management monitor that links with its cloud-based SAAS application to collect, monitor, and analyze the performance of vehicles and drivers. PROVA’s system enables proactive management of vehicles using data derived from their usage patterns and collected from on-board computers. Fleet Genius PRO can reduce fleet operations costs by more than 60% versus current technology, and, in many instances, pays for itself in less than a year.
Skaffl, LLC, Allentown
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Complete development of Skaffl, a new mobile application through which teachers and students can exchange class materials, assignments, completed homework, assessments, and grades. This digital application addresses the growing use of tablets in K-12 classrooms and the needs of teachers as they develop tools and curricula to enhance real-time educational interaction. There are no other applications that address these needs comprehensively while also being simple to use for students, teachers, and administrators.
Susquehanna Mining Solutions, Shavertown
Ben Franklin Investment: $150,000
Design, construct, and begin operation of a four-million-gallon-per-day pilot facility for the recovery of minerals and clean-up of water from acid mine drainage. The company’s process produces clean water and harvests iron oxide, while utilizing accessible geothermal energy as the power source for material processing operations. Once completed, the patented technology will be commercialized for large-scale use.
XiGo Nanotools, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete software enhancements to allow expanded sales at this manufacturer of patented products that rapidly measure the wetted surface area of nanoparticles and droplets using magnetic resonance technology. Nano-particles are minute; they typically have diameters that are 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair. Nanoparticle properties are key predictors of material performance in many industrial applications, including energy, electronics, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals, and currently there are no other efficient measurement methods. XiGo’s new Acorn Drop is a product extension of the company’s initial product, the Acorn Area™, and measures the drop size of emulsions.
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.
Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, Reading
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $22,350
Conduct controlled testing to optimize Cambridge-Lee’s manufacturing process for copper tubing to help the company enter new markets, and capitalize on market growth through return on investments in its manufacturing processes. Copper tubing is used in plumbing, refrigeration, and other commercial applications. The process improvement will increase throughput and reduce energy costs.
Georg Fischer Harvel, LLC, Easton
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $10,000
Complete a sustainability analysis to reduce energy consumption by 20% or more. GFH is an international leader in thermoplastic extrusion, primarily manufacturing PVC and CPVC piping for a diverse set of customers. Energy costs are a top manufacturing expense, so a cost savings in this area will yield a significant competitive advantage.