The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $354,876 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:
- developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
- helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
- 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 15,479 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,459 existing jobs, to start 429 new companies, and to develop 1,127 new products and processes. 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 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. On October 29th, this facility won the State Science and Technology Institute Building Entrepreneurial Capacity award at SSTI’s National Conference in Atlanta, complementing its second National Business Incubator of the Year Award, announced in May. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.
Ben Franklin announces the following early-stage company investments from its Pennsylvania Challenge Grant funding. Ben Franklin investments are provided to early-stage clients in the form of loans.
HB Custom Media, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $75,000
Establish HB Custom Media’s production facility and begin commercializing custom tissue culture media, reagents, cell culture supplements, and mouse embryo culture media to the Research-Use-Only market. These products are essential for life sciences companies in various applications, including drug development, cancer research, nerve cell regeneration investigation, and treatments for heart attacks.
Virtual Celebration (http://www.virtualcelebration.com/), Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $65,000
Support the development of a “back-end” transaction automation system and analytics for growing a network of Virtual Event Planners. Virtual Celebrations, LLC is a proprietary virtual platform in which hosts and guests privately gather to connect, play, share, give, and gift with provided celebration tools and content. This on-line celebration can either supplement a live celebration or stand alone, and can be used by individuals or small businesses. Online, more guests are able to participate, and, as a result, create an enduring virtual scrapbook and experience that can be enjoyed by all. With the Ben Franklin investment, Virtual Celebration will be able to utilize online tools to recruit and train 1,000 event planners.
Ben Franklin announces the following established manufacturer company investments from its Pennsylvania Challenge Grant funding. Ben Franklin provides a 1:1 matching grant for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation in established manufacturers.
Bosch Rexroth Corporation (http://www.boschrexroth-us.com/), Bethlehem, Northampton County
University Partner: Lehigh University
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Complete manufacturing process analysis in order to increase the capacity of the hydraulic cylinder manufacturing system. The Enterprise Systems Center team will analyze and evaluate current work processes, then utilize simulations to test alternative system configurations and scheduling methods. Bosch Rexroth manufactures motion control equipment, including hydraulic and pneumatic components.
Demco Automation (http://www.demcoautomation.com/) Quakertown, Bucks County
University Partner: Lehigh University
Ben Franklin Investment: $19,876
Implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning System for this developer and manufacturer of custom automation equipment and controls. These improvements will help Demco to realize a 70% increase in sales by 2014. With the continued expansion of mass customization, short product life cycles, and short-term ROI strategies in industry, Demco’s patented modular, flexible, and reconfigurable automation platforms meet the demands of today’s manufacturing environment. Demco’s platforms are used for assembling and packaging small parts, serving clients worldwide including the medical device and pharmeceutical markets.
Ben Franklin will invest in the following early-stage companies through its five-year grant from the Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP). Pennsylvania’s AEDP was created in 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.
Bio-Energy Holdings, Inc. (http://www.bio-energyholdings.com/) Center Valley, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Continue commercializing the patented A-Ceptor, a unit that separates oils and grease from “gray” restaurant sink effluent before it goes into underground traps or wastewater treatment systems. Trap buildup can cause odor, bacteria, and drain back-ups inside the restaurant, and sewer blockages and discharge issues outside. The end-product from the A-Ceptor is recycled for bio-diesel energy production.
Vitrius Technologies, LLC Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $120,000
Develop and commercialize new window products that combine three proprietary new innovations specific to materials and glazing. These metal-clad composite windows actually produce heat and power as well as greatly increase energy efficiency. Vitrius’ products are more economical and long-lasting and provide a superior renewable energy profile to the architerctural and industrial window market when compared with existing competitors.