Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin to Invest $324,500 In Regional Economic Development

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $324,500 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. 

EthosGen LLC, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $115,000

Continue commercialization efforts for EthosGen’s proprietary on-site alternative energy waste-heat-to-electrical-power generator that produces electricity from sustainable and renewable sources. Build a sales force, secure necessary engineering talent, and begin installations from initial contracts. EthosGen’s generator produces energy from waste heat from industrial, solar, and biomass sources. The power produced provides on-site, consistent, secure electricity in a highly sustainable and environmentally conscious manner by capturing current, emission-free waste heat streams. 

LifeAire Systems, LLC, Allentown, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $40,000

Conduct a series of test programs to validate the effectiveness of LifeAire Systems’ air purification technology in a hospital setting, and expand marketing efforts for selling the units to In Vitro Fertilization laboratories. LifeAire Systems has developed and patented a proprietary in-duct air purification system for environments in which air quality is critical. Recent research indicates that 1.7 million patients in the U.S. acquire a Hospital Acquired Infection each year with an associated cost burden of $30-45B annually. These infections create avoidable complications, and contribute to increased readmission rates, morbidity, mortality, and significant additional costs borne by the hospital. LifeAire’s technology has been installed in and is protecting the highly sensitive clinical setting of In Vitro Fertilization, and has resulted in a significant improvement in clinical pregnancy rates in multiple installations throughout the U.S. There is also considerable international interest in the system. The company is planning to expand into infection control for critical hospital applications such as operating rooms, intensive care units, burn centers, and long-term care facilities. 

Map Decisions, LLCBen Franklin TechVenturesBethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $13,200

Identify resources for marketing and sales support to help commercialize Map Decisions’ field information management software system. Map Decisions’ MapCollect™ software platform replaces outdated methods of data collection such as paper forms, cameras, video, spreadsheets, and hard-to-use, expensive professional GPS units. MapCollect is a simple, affordable, and flexible solution that operates on consumer-grade mobile devices and allows users to process data on an integrated web-based information management and work order system. MapCollect provides local government and field-oriented industries such as engineering and construction companies with a solution that transforms how and where customers collect, visualize, and utilize field data to improve business processes and decision-making. 

 Zero Rain, LLC, Mildred, Sullivan County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000

Begin operations to apply a new, proprietary chemical to natural fabrics and finished apparel that makes them water-repellant and resistant to stains and odors. The treatment, PerfectDry, works on all natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, wool, and cashmere. Treated fabric retains its natural feel, remains breathable, and is indistinguishable from its untreated state. PerfectDry will allow, for example, a delicate fabric like silk to be machine washed, or used to construct a rain coat. Initial target markets include the military, outdoor clothing, and women’s apparel.

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. 

Alpha Packaging, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $48,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Implement practices and install equipment to reduce energy consumption by 20% at this manufacturer of plastic bottles and jars primarily for the nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal care, housewares, consumer chemical, and food and beverage markets. The plastic container industry is highly competitive both domestically and internationally, and controlling energy costs is essential to maintaining competitive advantage. The first year of this project yielded an 8% reduction in electrical energy costs and a 25% reduction in scrap loss. Additional opportunities for savings will be developed.

East Penn Manufacturing Company, Lyon Station, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $48,000
College Partner: The Emerging Technologies Application Center at Northampton Community College

Develop a complete analysis of front-end considerations in support of the company’s new advanced battery products. Address packaging, transport, storage, safety, and precautions in materials handling. East Penn Manufacturing, the largest manufacturing employer in Berks County, produces thousands of different sizes and types of batteries, battery accessories, and wire and cable products for a variety of applications. 

Precise Graphix, Emmaus, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $10,300
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Improve the production layout and optimize the job cost analysis process at this designer, fabricator, and installer of interior décor, signage, and store fixtures. The analysis will lead to more effective scheduling utilization and increased profitability, as well as an improved layout of the manufacturing operations to streamline process flow. Precise Graphix performs short production runs primarily for retail clients.