Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin to Invest $915,141 In Regional Economic Development

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $915,141 in support of regional economic development. The investments are with eight early-stage technology companies and six established manufacturers. 

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 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 14,301 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,236 existing jobs, to start 408 new companies, and to develop 948 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 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:
Discovery Machine, Inc., Williamsport, Lycoming County
Ben Franklin Investment: $75,000
Develop collateral materials, in the form of text and demonstrations, for entering new markets, attracting partners, and promoting software sales. Discovery Machine (DMI) developed a suite of novel, patented software tools that enable companies to capture, manage, automate, optimize, embed, and network the knowledge found in the experience of their key employees. Companies’ needs to retain the expertise of staff will grow as the “baby boomer” generation continues to move into retirement, taking their institutional knowledge with them. In addition, DMI’s technology helps protect a company’s human capital in the event that it experiences a merger or acquisition, and/or staff recruiting by competition. Since joining the Ben Franklin portfolio in 2007, DMI has, on average, doubled its staff each year, and is now profitable. The company’s customer roster includes influential technology leaders including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Textron, Bechtel, NASA, and the Office of Naval Research.

EBL International, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Accomplish key system development tasks and secure important operational partnerships to support EBL’s efforts to deploy its product in China. EBL International is pioneering an innovative employment-based lending model for providing credit cards to working-class people in countries where credit rating systems do not exist. EBL’s custom application will be developed to efficiently facilitate the interactions among employers, workers, banks, and merchants to provide a new approach to employment-based lending.

EthosGen, LLC, Dallas, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $125,000
Develop and beta test on-site renewable biomass-based energy production systems. The systems use new Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) greenhouses to grow high-energy- value crops. These highly efficient, non-edible grasses are harvested and converted into fuels to produce electricity on-site. Current competitive open-field biomass systems cannot be located where the energy is needed, nor can they produce a continuous supply of fuels.

eVendor Check, Hawley, Pike County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Further enhance the current software for the company’s web-based customer feedback system for procurement professionals. eVendor Check’s clients reduce risks associated with vendor selection by using patent-pending survey tools and a supporting database, rather than the conventional, less-effective telephone-based method of vendor investigation. eVendor Check will develop automated product features, establish on-line tutorials, and mobile applications to enhance the user experience and increase sales.

Snake Creek Lasers, Hallstead, Susquehanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Experimentally verify a new opto-thermal laser-resonator theory and advance current laser designs to improve output-power tunability and reproducibility over large ranges. Snake Creek Lasers is a premier supplier of miniaturized lasers, laser modules, and high-power cryogenic lasers for defense and commercial applications. This investment will also help the company to identify secondary sources for critical components.

SuccessTSM, Tobyhanna, Monroe County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Create a graphical user interface for the company’s product that addresses Disaster Recovery Management (DRM) in a cost-effective and affordable manner. SuccessTSM has created a platform that works with IBM’s widely used Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) system to make the DRM process easier, faster, and more reliable through an easy-to-navigate graphical user interface. The product addresses long-identified compatibility issues with the TSM product. The interface will be developed through a series of beta tests, leading to a final product and launch.  Concurrently, the company will develop the necessary infrastructure to commercialize its initial product, including the implementation of a marketing plan, hiring and training personnel, and capitalizing the company.

Taylored Building Solutions, LLC, Taylor, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Develop a distribution channel strategy for marketing construction components to the site-built industry in residential housing. Taylored Building Solutions (TBS) custom manufactures housing components for builders in whatever configuration or degree of completeness they require. TBS will also continue with its previous focus, supplying modular home builders with complete homes, and expand its target market to the site-built industry. 

XiGo Nanotools, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Train partners in high-growth markets in the Asia/Pacific region in the use and marketing of the Acorn Area™ product to enhance sales. Also identify additional distribution partners in the region and introduce products to the Asian technical community at leading conferences. XiGo manufactures the Acorn Area, a patented, shoebox-size device that rapidly measures the wetted surface area of nano-particles using magnetic resonance. 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 investments.

Crispin Valve, Berwick, Columbia County
Ben Franklin Investment: $11,600
Determine fluid-flow characteristics for all valve sizes up to a 96” diameter. Crispin Valve manufactures butterfly valves for the municipal water industry, and has designed a new product line which will allow the company to expand its market.  Actual flow data will be collected under a series of flow conditions and positions in a flow test facility, allowing for extrapolation to other values based on results. 

East Penn Manufacturing Company, Lyon Station, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
College Partner: The Emerging Technologies Application Center (ETAC) at Northampton Community College
Develop process-optimization strategies in support of the company’s new advanced battery products. East Penn Manufacturing, the largest manufacturing employer in Berks County, produces thousands of different sizes and types of lead-acid batteries, battery accessories, and wire and cable products for a variety of applications. East Penn seeks to reduce the product drying time while minimizing substrate heat in order to maximize product through-put.

Electro Chemical & Manufacturing Company, Emmaus, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000
University Partner: Lehigh University
Develop an adhesive that will allow lined vessels used in production to be implemented in applications requiring a greater range of temperature and pressure conditions than the company’s current product line. Electro Chemical Engineering & Manufacturing Company produces thermoplastic- and fluoropolymer-lined steel vessels used to manufacture, distribute, and store corrosive chemicals.  The company will work with the Lehigh team to characterize the properties of existing adhesives against the required criteria of the new applications. Once the new adhesive is optimized and tested, the company will transfer the new adhesive to production.

Noble Biomaterials, Inc., Scranton, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $13,650
College Partner: The Emerging Technologies Application Center (ETAC) at Northampton Community College
Conduct a mine pool geothermal feasibility study at the company’s facility site in Lackawanna County. Geothermal processes may be utilized to control the temperature of water used in production and to provide environmental humidity and temperature control in critical areas of the plant. A global leader in bacterial management solutions, Noble Biomaterials develops, manufactures, sells, and markets advanced antimicrobial technologies designed to manage all forms of bacterial contamination for medical, defense, industrial, and consumer markets. Noble’s core technology, X-STATIC®, is a proprietary silver-based antimicrobial solution used for mission-critical applications including advanced wound care, infection control, and odor elimination. Noble has more than 200 licensees, including Johnson & Johnson, NASA, 3M, US Special Operations Command, adidas, and others.

Strong Industries, Inc., Northumberland, Northumberland County
Ben Franklin Investment: $49,891
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Identify and implement operational improvement opportunities that developed during the company’s recent business transformation and growth. Strong Industries was originally a molder of various consumer goods, including a line of pet products. Since then, Strong has grown significantly and has transformed the company to focus on the pool and spa market. The Lehigh team will generate specific recommendations to improve both the production operation and business processes. 

Ward Manufacturing, Blossburg, Tioga County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Design, build, install, and implement a demonstration-scale core making machine at Penn State, and a full-scale version at Ward Manufacturing Company. Ward produces malleable and cast iron fittings. The demonstration machine at Penn State will be designed to process low-volatile organic compound (VOC) binders as those binders are optimized. The equipment at Ward will immediately facilitate a 29% reduction in the energy needed to make cores using conventional binders. Energy savings will grow as the low-VOC binders are fully adapted for use by Ward.