The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $740,983 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 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 is headquartered on the campus of Lehigh University and operates Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility, in Bethlehem, and 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 investments from its Challenge Grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development:
C.F. Martin & Company, Inc., Nazareth, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $7,483
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Complete development of computer models to predict the sound quality of prospective top plates on new guitar models for this producer of acoustic stringed instruments. The new products will provide the optimum sound radiation and tone that is sought by the target demographic. This will help maintain Martin’s brand versus current and future competitors.
EggZack, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $20,000
Refine a strategy for assembling a strategic partner network to help EggZack market and sell its software as a service (SaaS) solution to a much larger base of customers. The patent-pending SaaS platform requires only a single entry to update a client’s website and other marketing functions, broadcasting the information immediately to more than 20 types of media, including social media such as the company website and blog, email, local media, and publications. Such tools are needed by small- to medium-sized retailers, restaurants, and other companies to promote themselves more effectively and profitably, and to also offer as a value-add to the members and clients of organizations, franchises, and creative marketing agencies.
Hydro4GE, Inc., Scranton, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000
Establish a sales and marketing strategy for Hydro4GE’s new software development tool, Pario. Pario allows programmers to generate and support complete, production-ready database systems with dramatic productivity gains and quality outcomes from high-level specifications. Traditional software construction practices are often repetitive and labor-intensive, and thus prone to error. Hydro4GE’s software delivers substantial programmer productivity gains, rapid application prototyping, and substantial ongoing support efficiencies.
LMC Software Solutions, Morgantown, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Assist LMC Software Solutions with operations and marketing support for its Enterprise Technical Support Center product as well as its Development Operations initiative for software development. This will provide the company with new customers and increased sales. LMC’s new software platform supports information technology staff as they address IT problems within their companies. 24/7 monitoring and log trails are built in, providing complete audit and compliance functions. This new software platform improves productivity and service availability at a reduced cost.
Micro Interventional Devices, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Develop a new, minimally invasive structural heart repair product called Permaseal™, and begin commercializing it. This early-stage company designs, develops and commercializes proprietary technologies targeting unmet needs in the treatment of structural heart disease. The Permaseal closure device is intended to close myocardial punctures, incisions, and otomies in structural heart repair procedures. This product will serve the large market of surgical patients who are currently unable to undergo high-risk procedures, particularly for the increasingly popular Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation procedure (TAVI).
Pivitec, LLC, Coplay, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $70,000
Complete design and begin commercialization of five hardware products and one software control application for this developer of audio streaming and distribution products. Modern performances in theaters and houses of worship require a variety of approaches to provide performers the ability to hear their own performances as well as cues. Wired systems currently in use require extensive cabling, limiting perfomers’ movements, and have limited audio source reception. Pivitec uses wireless mobile devices and personal computers as interactive controllers for its network devices to address problems in live professional audio products.
Ben Franklin will invest in the following companies through its five-year grant from the Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP). Pennsylvania’s 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.
Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $5,000
Complete investigation of possible methods for recovering waste heat from high temperature exhaust streams at this manufacturer of specialty cast-wrought and powder metallurgy alloys and titanium alloys. Provide technical support for engineering analysis of the proposed cycle turbine for power generation.
Cambridge-Lee Industries, LLC., Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $40,500
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Conduct an on-site assessment to analyze the company’s energy consumption and identify ways for the firm to lower energy usage, improve energy efficiencies, and minimize waste in order to reduce operating costs. Cambridge-Lee is a world leader in the manufacture of copper tubing.
CEWA Technologies, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $250,000
Complete prototype testing and finalization of the commercial design of a new kind of point-concentrated solar power dish that will deliver energy at a lower cost due its novel shape and construction. The dish, called a toroid solar collector, is capable of providing thermal power for HVAC, power generation, desalination, and process heat applications at a cost comparable to fossil fuel-based sources of energy without government subsidy. Such cost competitiveness is novel in solar power dishes, and critical to the growth of this alternative energy source.
Snake Creek Lasers, Hallstead, Susquehanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Commercialize a new opto-thermal laser resonator and advance current laser designs to improve output-power tunability and reproducibility over large ranges. Also, reduce power source requirements by 50%. Snake Creek Lasers is a premier supplier of miniaturized lasers and laser modules for defense and commercial applications. In addition to dramatically reducing the amount of energy needed to run Snake Creek’s Lasers, the new wavelengths and improved attributes identified will enable wavelength and performance improvements and cost reductions in scrap and labor time that allow for sustained company growth.
SolarPA, New Tripoli, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $58,000
Complete development of a process for applying a new, proprietary coating, NanoCoat, that enhances photovoltaic effects and improves the efficiency of solar cells. SolarPA’s single-layer anti-reflective coating improves optical absorption, thermal transport and emission, light concentration, manipulation, emissivity, reflectivity, and scattering, thereby maximizing the solar energy available for conversion into electricity. This results in increases in solar module efficiency up to 10% and reduced manufacturing costs by up to 10% as compared with current silicon-based technology. The reduced manufacturing costs translate to reduced prices to the consumer, thereby enabling broader market adoption of solar energy.
Ward Manufacturing, Blossburg, Tioga County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Design and install a core making machine at this producer of malleable and cast iron pipe and fittings. The machine will process low volatile organic compound (VOC) binders as those binders are optimized. The equipment will facilitate an immediate 29% reduction in the energy needed to make cores using conventional binders. Energy savings will grow to as much as 50% as the low-VOC binders are fully adapted for use by Ward.