Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan presented Ben Franklin TechVentures® with a citation recognizing its support of the city’s entrepreneurial community and the incubator’s national awards. Mayor Callahan also recognized Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity, and Innovation; Lehigh Valley Tech; and Pi: Partnership for Innovation; as partners in Bethlehem’s continuum of support.
The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) named Ben Franklin TechVentures the 2012 Randall M. Whaley National Incubator of the Year on May 8, 2012 at NBIA’s International Conference on Business Incubation in Atlanta. Ben Franklin TechVentures also won NBIA’s Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year, Technology Focus.
“Our message to entrepreneurs is very simple: Bethlehem wants you,” Callahan said. “We have space for you, we have financing for you, and, most importantly, we have a network of people to help your business grow.”
Ben Franklin TechVentures provides a high-energy and professional environment in which to facilitate connections between early-stage technology firms and the funding, people, technology, colleges and universities, and other resources they need to prosper. Since 1983, the program has been fueling economic growth throughout northeastern Pennsylvania and has graduated 55 successful companies. TechVentures is owned and managed by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Beginning in 1983 with 10,000 square feet of incubator space in a former photography lab on the research campus of Bethlehem Steel, BFTP/NEP converted photo processing rooms into wet labs and offices, becoming one of only a handful of technology incubators in the U.S. at the time. When the final Bethlehem Steel operation, a coatings research facility, closed in 2005 and became part of Lehigh’s campus, BFTP/NEP purchased the 45-year-old facility and converted it into Ben Franklin TechVentures, with 35,000 square feet of rentable space for incubator clients. The $8 million renovation project was completed in 2007, opening with 13 clients.
Just 18 months later, with the facility nearing its 29-client capacity, the need for an expansion was clear. In October 2011, Ben Franklin TechVentures2 was completed, adding 47,000 square feet of space and providing the incubator with room to house up to 40 clients.
Twenty-five early-stage firms, employing 158 people, are currently located in Ben Franklin TechVentures®. Since 1983, the Ben Franklin Business Incubator, predecessor to Ben Franklin TechVentures, and Ben Franklin TechVentures have:
– Graduated 55 successful companies
– Incubator graduates grossed more than $620 million in annual revenue last year
– Companies created more than 5,400 jobs
The 2012 Whaley award represents a noteworthy repeat honor. In 2001, the Ben Franklin Business Incubator won this same top worldwide incubator award.