Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin to Invest $330,873 In Regional Economic Development

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $330,873 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 14,922 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,358 existing jobs, to start 420 new companies, and to develop 1,017 new products and processes. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania 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 owns and manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.50 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program.  

Ben Franklin announces the following early-stage company investments from its Challenge Grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

 Cernostics, Inc., Danville, Montour County
Ben Franklin Investment: $55,000
Validate a diagnostic and prognostic test that predicts the risk of developing esophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s Esophagus. The test employs a “spatial systems biology approach” to anatomic pathological testing, in contrast with the current pathology testing that is a largely manual and subjective process. Cernostics will continue further development of this molecular diagnostic test with biopsy specimens and clinical data from Geisinger Health System, Danville, in order to select and refine biomarkers and complete software development. Additional clinical validation studies will lead to commercialization of the test via Cernostics’ clinical reference laboratory.

 Taylored Building Solutions, LLC, Taylor, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $60,000
Complete a computer program to manage the financial function of this manufacturer of high-end modular homes and components for traditional stick-built homes. With this investment, the company will also implement novel marketing and sales strategies. 

XiGo Nanotools, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Organize manufacturing policies and procedures to prepare for expanded sales at this manufacturer of Acorn Area. The Acorn Area is a patented, shoebox-size device that rapidly measures the wetted surface area of nano-particles using magnetic resonance imaging technology. Nano-particles are minute; they typically have diameters that are 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair. Measuring the wetted surface area of nano-particle directly relates to product performance in many industrial applications including energy, electronics, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals. Nanoparticle properties are key predictors of material performance, and currently there are no efficient methods to measure wetted nano-particle surface area. 

Ben Franklin announces the following established manufacturer company investment from its Challenge Grant funding.

 Palace Foods, Inc., Reading, Berks County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $11,881
Optimize and upgrade the current company facility to increase capacity and efficiency to meet increasing demand. Palace Foods manufactures Indian cuisine and ethnic specialty foods.

Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP) was created in July 2008 to incent collaboration to save energy costs, reduce dependence on foreign fuels, expand clean energy production, and create energy-related jobs in the state. Under the AEDP, BFTP/NEP receives funding to invest in the development and growth of energy-related companies in its 21-county area. There is a diversity of industrial activity related to energy throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, including several Ben Franklin clients in sectors such as advanced energy storage, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative/clean fuels.

 Ben Franklin will invest in the following established manufacturers through its AEDP grant.

 Bemis Polyethylene Packaging Division, West Hazleton, Luzerne County
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University Hazleton
Ben Franklin Investment: $7,454
Identify solutions which utilize waste heat streams to offset existing energy consumption at this manufacturer of flexible packaging for the bakery industry. The bakery packaging market is highly competitive. This investment will help Bemis to identify opportunities to reduce manufacturing costs.

 Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, Berks County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete investigation of methods to recover waste heat from high-temperature exhaust streams at this producer of specialty cast-wrought and powder metallurgy and titanium alloys. Carpenter manufactures for niche applications in the automotive, aerospace, consumer products, energy, defense, industrial, and medical markets.

 Hitachi Metals Automotive Components USA, Blossburg, Tioga County
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Ben Franklin Investment: $36,750
Continue the development of a collagen-based core binder system that can displace the phenolic urethane and resin binders now used at this foundry. This binder system will reduce emissions and energy consumption, allowing this ductile iron caster to double production. Hitachi produces primarily for the automotive industry, and competes internationally.

 Quadrant EPP, Scranton, Lackawanna County
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $12,288
Complete assessment of a geothermal application that utilizes mine water as a method to reduce energy costs in Quadrant’s manufacturing process. Quadrant produces engineered polymer products in sheets, rods, and tubes. The investment will allow the company to assess the feasibility of displacing the need for chilled process water using mechanical refrigeration with mine water as a coolant. Implementing this environmentally friendly process will enhance the company’s profitability and competitiveness in its cost-sensitive market.

Simplex Homes, Inc., Scranton, Lackawanna County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $17,500
Increase productivity and decrease production costs in order to enable sales growth in Simplex’s line of energy-efficient modular homes. The company is a regional leader in high quality modular construction, and is positioning itself as an industry-leading builder of energy efficient homes. Simplex is involved in building a prototype Net Zero home that is both environmentally conscientious and economically prudent for homeowners.

 Tobyhanna Army Depot, Tobyhanna, Monroe County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $30,000
Tobyhanna repairs circuit card assembly (CCA) of various older technologies including through-hole and surface-mount. With this investment, Tobyhanna will develop a new capability to test and repair all CCA technologies including fine-pitch surface-mount and ball grid array CCA within a new centralized CCA test and repair facility. This will significantly reduce energy costs on the base and allow Tobyhanna to greatly expand its capacity and workload. Tobyhanna is the U.S. Defense Department’s recognized leader in the areas of automated test equipment, systems integration, and downsizing of electronic systems. With almost 5,500 employees, Tobyhanna is the largest employer in Monroe County.