Ben Franklin News

BFTP Invests $1.4M in 18 Early-Stage Firms with Return to Health Funding

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) announces that it has made emergency investments in 18 regional start-ups totaling $1,435,500 to protect existing portfolio clients during the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The funds were provided through a $1 million disbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that was matched by BFTP/NEP.

BFTP/NEP also invested $404,370 in 17 established manufacturers in this round with support from DCED. Ben Franklin’s total Return to Health investments in the northeastern Pennsylvania economy is $1,839,870, invested in 35 companies.

BFTP/NEP developed a Return to Health funding program including various types of company investments. Portfolio Protection Investments will help secure BFTP/NEP’s existing investments in pre-COVID-19 viable and growing early-stage clients. These clients were performing strongly in job and revenue growth, loan performance, and/or were developing promising product or patent portfolios.

BFTP/NEP announces the following Portfolio Protection Investments in early-stage, technology-based firms in its 21-county service area, which are provided as 0% loans.

Advanced Photonics Sciences, Friendsville –  $100,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Advanced Photonics Sciences (APS) is a premier manufacturer and supplier of lasers, optics, and photonics systems including miniaturized diode-direct and solid-state lasers, modules, and high-powered cryogenic lasers for commercial and specialized defense applications. APS is a recognized leader in photonics innovation and engineering, including the development of precision quality crystals.

American Paper Bag, LLC, Sugar Notch – $50,000

Address raw material costs and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.. American Paper Bag (APB) is a leading U.S.-based producer of customizable and environmentally friendly paper bags. Currently, most retail carrier bags in the U.S. are plastic and produced in China. APB’s paper bags are greener and provide users with many distinctive branding opportunities. Its proprietary manufacturing process and new shape give APB a competitive advantage over other U.S. bag producers.

CDC Software, LLC, Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center, Bloomsburg – $100,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. CDC Software’s platform greatly reduces the time and cost of integrating telephony systems with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and business systems. Highly configurable and supporting all major telephony providers, the platform provides complete customer data immediately to a representative answering a customer’s call to enable a productive and satisfying customer experience.

ConnexiCore, LLC, Milford – $50,000

Support marketing and lead generation work to improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. ConnexiCore is growing an elite national network of licensed remote drone pilots, which allow clients to engage in no-touch data collection. Using its exclusive cloud-based Software-as-a-Service flight management and analysis platform, ConnexiCore’s turnkey approach manages the entire process, from aerial telepresence and data collection, to image and video analysis, to extracting insights from that data, to delivering measurable actionable tasks to support decision making for industry. Clients leverage drone-based aerial data to create efficiencies that save time and money.

Galaxy Brushes, Moosic – $100,000

Optimize workflow to address supply chain risk, manage inventory through disruptions, and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Galaxy Brushes manufactures cleaning and inspection brushes for the oil and gas pipeline industries and a range of custom wire cutting machines to improve production capacity and efficiency. The company developed a proprietary brush that has produced superior results in cleaning pipelines and wells. Effective cleaning grows more critical with the aging pipeline infrastructure and costs associated with contamination.

Gilson Snow, Winfield – $90,000

Support a return to full-time production after a major reduction in staffing due to COVID-19. Until the shutdown, revenues were up 70% over the same period last year. Gilson Snow manufactures innovative snowboards and skis. Applying aeronautical engineering concepts, Gilson products have a three-dimensional base that offers the “Gilson Edge” for a buttery and “surfy” feel not offered in traditional products. Gilson builds snowboards and skis from sustainably harvested Pennsylvania poplar and focuses on both technological innovation and aesthetic design. The company ships to customers worldwide.

Howell Benefit Technologies, LLC, TekRidge, Jessup – $67,500

Support staff and programming and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Howell Benefit Technologies, LLC provides online proprietary small-group insurance platforms used by national group insurance carriers that allow agents to reduce the quoting, enrollment, and submission process from three weeks to one hour. Providing real-time rates in a highly complex industry is a paradigm shift in the way group insurance is currently sold and administered. HBT also builds and maintains group insurance premium billing platforms and offers agent license tracking and commission payments online.

LifeAire Systems, LLC, Allentown, – $100,000

Commercialize LifeAire’s Aire~PPE Decontamination Unit (pending US FDA approval), which kills COVID-19 and other bacteria, viruses, and fungi on the surface and within the layers of N-95 masks, allowing for safe and quick reuse of masks. Twenty-one masks can be comprehensively and safely decontaminated in 3½ minutes, allowing users to get their own masks back. Up to 8,500 masks can be decontaminated each day, allowing the unit to pay for itself in cost savings in less than a day. LifeAire Systems develops, manufactures, and commercializes revolutionary in-duct air purification systems for the healthcare, long-term care and life sciences industries that effectively kills all infectious airborne pathogens. Because of COVID-19, LifeAire pivoted, applying its technology in developing the mask decontamination unit to help address the pressing N95 shortage.

Mystic Mountaintop Productions, LLC, Kunkletown – $38,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Mystic Mountaintop produces a proprietary “smart” LED lighting system for the middle- to low-end entertainment industry. The system includes a hybrid analog/digital computerized lighting console, local and wireless remote control via a smart phone or tablet, a lighting power and control distribution unit, and installation hardware. Primary clients are small venues, such as auditoriums, churches, and nightclubs, which want a lighting system that is affordable but offers the quality and functionality of systems designed for larger facilities.

OPTiMO Information Technology, LLC, Bloomsburg – $62,500

Allow OPTiMO to develop a cloud-based process automation tool that will streamline business workflows and reduce operating costs for greater efficiency for major clients in the U.S Government. The company provides innovative digital-product-development services with a focus on the end-user experience. OPTiMO delivers enterprise-level information technology solutions to clients nationwide.

Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Bethlehem – $100,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Orbweaver is the first and only provider of complete, real-time supply chain integration solutions for the electronics manufacturing industry. Orbweaver’s suite of products and services empowers distributors, manufacturers and contract manufacturers to instantly and securely transfer and use critical supply chain data, resulting in dramatic increases in efficiency, reductions in cost and improvements in customer service.

planguru, LLC, Wilkes-Barre – $100,000

Support product development, marketing, and staffing to improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The company is currently rolling out its new cloud-based Planguru app. Planguru provides businesses and business advisors with Software-as-a-System (SaaS)-based budgeting, forecasting and business analytics tools. This information enables small- and medium-sized businesses to make better, more informed decisions.

Precision POS, LLC, TekRidge, Jessup – $35,000

Support product enhancements that address COVID-19 restrictions, including contact-less curbside pickup, additional delivery options, and an app for delivery driver management. Precision POS offers advanced tablet and cloud based point-of-sale, on-line ordering, and various other supporting products for the restaurant industry and other related food and beverage industries.

Rocket Cloud, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem – $100,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Rocket Cloud helps industrial wholesalers successfully sell online. The firm creates visibility for clients’ inventory on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart by connecting directly with their ERP systems. Rocket Cloud’s enterprise suite handles inventory replenishment, repricing, and accounting/reconciliation, along with providing analytics to monitor performance. Rocket Cloud is also rolling out an industrial marketplace, ProSupplyDirect, which will address limitations on B2C marketplaces.

Saladax Biomedical, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem – $100,000

Support distribution of COVID-19 test and sales of Saladax’s test for measuring adherence to antipsychotic medications. Saladax develops rapid blood tests for point-of-care and for laboratory analyzers for use in psychiatry and oncology. The firm has been supplying laboratories and clinicians worldwide with revolutionary diagnostic solutions for more than 15 years. Its experience and expertise allow it to create leading products that offer reliable and rapid diagnosis. The company is awaiting US FDA emergency use authorization for a blood test for coronavirus antibodies.

Signallamp Health, INC, Scranton – $100,000

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The use of telemedicine for healthcare during the pandemic has been pivotal to protect patients and healthcare staff, and to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Signallamp Health’s remote clinical services platform supports healthcare providers by triaging and assessing ill patients, including those affected by COVID-19, as well as patients with other conditions. Signallamp’s services are remote, engaging nurses and other clinical staff by telephone, text monitoring system, video conference, and/or other telehealth and telemedicine methods. The company’s model is plug-and-play, working alongside existing Electronic Medical Records. Trusted by a growing number of provider organizations in 10 states, Signallamp allows doctors to provide a value-added service to a larger number of patients and to achieve better health outcomes for patients.

US Specialty Formulations, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem – $75,000

Support the logistics and purchase of equipment to expand an analytical lab to meet steep demand for pre-clinical materials for use in a novel SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine. US Specialty Formulations (USSF) manufactures sterile injectable pharmaceuticals used by healthcare providers or in new drug or vaccine clinical trials. Millions of Americans require specialized and custom-manufactured drugs, and the current infrastructure is insufficient to support their therapies. These specially prepared drugs are U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications and are provided globally., Kutztown – $67,500

Support and improve the company’s competitiveness during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. webCemeteries helps cemeteries manage complex records through powerful online systems to help serve bereaved families, including locating loved ones with GPS and sharing memories online.

Via Morning Call; Lehigh Valley Business