Ben Franklin TechVentures®, owned and operated by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) has been selected as one of “10 Startup Incubators You Need to Watch” by Inc.com (http://www.inc.com/ss/10-start-up-incubators-to-watch).
The Ben Franklin Business Incubator (BFBI) program, Bethlehem, PA, has graduated 48 successful early-stage technology companies which together gross more than $408 million in annual revenue and have created 4,500 jobs. It is currently undergoing an expansion, Ben Franklin TechVentures2, that will open in fall of 2011.
Among the nation’s first incubators, the BFBI opened in 1983 on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus, and was named the National Business Incubation Association’s Incubator of the Year in 2001. In 2007, BFTP/NEP relocated BFBI across the street on Lehigh’s campus, transforming a former Bethlehem Steel laboratory into Ben Franklin TechVentures. Prior to this renovation, BFTP/NEP and its economic development colleagues had to turn away promising young companies due to a shortage of wet lab incubator space, which is necessary for companies in many technology sectors. This move doubled wet lab space and tripled office and dry laboratory space.
Just 18 months later, TechVentures was nearly filled. A $6 million grant funded by the Recovery Act through the US Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and other state and federal grants, BFTP/NEP funding, and private contributions, allowed Ben Franklin to support the necessary expansion to Ben Franklin TechVentures2. This 47,000 square foot addition will advance BFTP’s ability to provide early-stage companies with reduced operating costs, business assistance, and the synergy of a business incubator. The expanded Ben Franklin TechVentures2 facility will allow BFTP/NEP to accommodate start-up companies that create 200 jobs and retain 100 more in the first three years.
Ben Franklin TechVentures2 will be a certified Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building, with a photovoltaic solar array on its rooftop, and the latest energy management and light-harvesting technologies, produced by Coopersburg-based Lutron Electronics, throughout the building. The expansion recently received first-place national honors in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 ENERGY STAR Challenge Contest. With a projected reduction in CO2 emissions of 51%, Ben Franklin TechVentures2 received an ENERGY STAR score of 93 out of a possible 100.
Ben Franklin TechVentures brings together entrepreneurs, Ben Franklin staff, and Lehigh University faculty and students to accelerate the growth of the region’s technology economy. The Ben Franklin team will continue to provide TechVentures resident companies with management guidance, business planning, strategic planning, and marketing counsel; connections to angel investors and venture capitalists; and assistance in preparing and perfecting funding presentations.
“We’re delighted to be recognized on Inc’s top-10 incubator list,” said Chad Paul, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “Ben Franklin TechVentures provides an entrepreneurial culture that fuels innovation. It grows as a world model in developing early-stage technology companies, creating sustainable, high-paying jobs, and advancing our region’s economy.”