Client & Alumni News

Ben Franklin to Invest $621,804 In Regional Economic Development

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $621,804 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 15,820 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,645 existing jobs, to start 442 new companies, and to develop 1,189 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. 

Colymer Industries, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $35,000
Complete a new financial model, strategic business plan, corporate operating agreement, and assignment of intellectual property for this manufacturer of proprietary non-asphalt roofing materials. Unlike asphalt, Colymer’s innovative roofing products are not water soluble and are environmentally beneficial. The materials are expected to outlast traditional asphalt-based roofs by a factor of four. 

Columbia County Bread & Granola, Bloomsburg, Columbia County
Ben Franklin Investment: $28,000
Complete development of a strategic business plan that will help the company expand into new markets and raise capital as needed. The Ben Franklin investment will also allow the company to optimize its production as it expands and to build an appropriate production and marketing infrastructure to support planned growth. Columbia County Bread & Granola is an innovator of food products for health-conscious consumers and individuals who suffer from a variety of dietary restrictions.  

eVendorCheck, Hawley, Wayne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $81,000
Develop and implement enhanced sales strategies for the company’s web-based customer feedback system for procurement professionals. eVendorCheck’s clients reduce risks associated with vendor selection by using an on-line, patent-pending reference-checking tool rather than the conventional, less-effective telephone-based method of vendor investigation. 

Pivitec, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $75,000
Continue commercialization and enhancement of hardware and software products for this developer of audio streaming and distribution products. Modern 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 problems in live professional audio productions. 

PROVA Systems and Technologies, Inc., Carbondale, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $60,000
Support the commercialization of PROVA™ Systems’ Fleet Genius® PRO, a fleet management software system for small and medium-sized enterprises, and family fleets. The software integrates PROVA’s plug-and-play OBD-2 fleet management monitor that links with its cloud-based Fleet Genius SAAS application to collect, monitor, and analyze the performance of vehicles and drivers. PROVA’s OBD-2 monitors are included in the company’s Fleet Manager-in-a-box™ system, which 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.

TSG Software, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Support a focused sales and marketing effort in commercializing software for business cleaning services, property and facility managers, and building management contractors. TSG’s Accelerator CC® brings traditionally manual processes into cloud software with mobile solutions to automate mission-critical processes. This eliminates workflow disruption. Its innovative approach provides compelling value to a large market. 

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.

Applied Separations, Inc., Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Philadelphia University
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Develop and implement a new process and deploy equipment for the waterless dyeing of textiles for business-to-business sales to clothing manufacturers and textile companies. Current practices utilize large amounts of energy and water. With the developing worldwide water shortage, the industry is actively seeking means to significantly reduce its water usage. Applied Separations and its technical partner, Halide Group of Allentown, is employing its supercritical fluids expertise in this effort that has the potential of returning textile manufacturing jobs to the U.S. 

Cambridge-Lee Industries, LLC, Reading, Berks County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $27,650
Conduct testing of micro-fin refrigeration tubes at this manufacturer of copper tubing for plumbing, refrigeration, and other commercial applications. These new, internally grooved tubes are small in diameter and highly energy-efficient. 

Custom Processing Services, Inc., Reading, Berks County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
To investigate how the waste energy from a proposed thermochemical process can be used in the company’s manufacturing processes and as a potential fuel source for production of steam and/or a combined heat and power system. Also determine the economics, technical, and environmental issues involved with the process. Custom Processing Services provides sophisticated air-jet milling, micronizing, blending, and testing of powered materials on a contract basis. The company’s production process is energy intensive; reduced costs in this area are significant. 

EcoTech Marine LLC, Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning system with features to accommodate facility expansion and maintain quality. EcoTech’s patented VorTech™ propeller pump motor is located outside of hobby reef aquariums, providing better heat control and flow. EcoTech has enjoyed outstanding sales with the pump. Its new Radion™ LED lighting unit improves aquarium growth, coverage, and energy efficiency, and provides a customizable spectral output. 

Georg Fischer Harvel , Easton, Northampton County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete a sustainability analysis to reduce energy consumption by 20% or more. GFH is an international leader in thermoplastic extrusions, primarily manufacturing PVC and CPVC piping for diverse target markets in high-end applications such as microelectronics and pharmaceuticals. Energy costs are one of the top drivers of manufacturing expenses in extruded plastic production. Work to date has identified approaches to reduce energy consumption by 15%, streamline warehouse operations, and optimize production planning. 

KME Kovatch, Nesquehoning, Carbon County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Develop new finishing processes associated with the pumper truck and tanker truck. KME Fire Apparatus is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of custom fire and fuel tanker vehicles and equipment, and the largest privately held manufacturer of fire trucks in the nation. Each new truck produced will create 1,200 hours of new work for U.S. employees.

McGregor Industries Inc., Dunmore, Lackawanna County
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,154
Survey and test three new, more cost-competitive tread infills at this manufacturer of metal stairs, gratings, and floor plates. McGregor will also test the tread infills for material characterization and stair tread structural and slip performance.