CyOptics/Avago Technologies, Breinigsville
CyOptics designed and manufactured Indium Phosphide (InP) based lasers, detectors, transmitters and receivers that operate from 1 to 100 gigabits per second (speed at which information is sent). The company’s products enabled applications in the Fiber-To-The-Home, Cable, Enterprise/Data Center and Long Haul/Metro segments of the communications network, and in other emerging end market applications, such as defense and aerospace, high performance computing, medical, and security.
CyOptics was one of the few companies in the optoelectronics component industry with vertically integrated technology and manufacturing platforms that spanned from device fabrication to proprietary, highly automated assembly and test facilities. The company was pivotal to maintaining a deep optical footprint in the Lehigh Valley post Lucent Technologies, continuing to provide highly paid, sustainable jobs to hundreds of employees.
Thanks to astute leadership and outstanding execution, CyOptics grew rapidly and expanded its client base to more than 180 customers worldwide, including many of the nation’s largest fiber optic-based bandwidth carriers. Despite a recessionary economy, the company achieved a compound annual sales growth rate of 34% from 2005 to 2012. The majority of the company’s products were shipped outside of the U.S. Beginning with three founders, in early 2005, 86 people worked at CyOptics in the Lehigh Valley.
In 2013, the company employed more than 330 regionally and 837 worldwide. Industry leader Avago Technologies (NASDAQ: AVGO), a leading analog semiconductor manufacturer with more than $2 billion in sales, acquired CyOptics in 2013. This sale was the largest acquisition in the optical components industry since 2001, and represented excellent continuing opportunities for local operations.
Custom Processing Services, Reading
Custom Processing Services reduces larger particles into ultra-fine and nano-sized particles for chemicals, polymers, pigments, pharmaceuticals, and other applications. CPS has earned successive Ben Franklin investments, first as an early-stage firm and then as an established manufacturer, in work ranging from refining the business plan to substantial process and energy improvements.
In 2000, the young company applied for seed funding from Ben Franklin. In addition, CPS also found great value in connections with other economic development organizations. Ben Franklin introduced CPS to the Greater Berks Development Fund, which helped the company access a number of federal and state investment programs to fund equipment and working capital needs. BFTP has also connected the company with Lehigh University for a logistics study to improve manufacturing efficiencies, with Penn State for failure mode effects analysis, and with Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center for energy-related work.
Since its inception, CPS has achieved double-digit revenue growth each year. Increasing sales allowed the company to purchase additional facilities. CPS now has three manufacturing facilities in Greater Reading, the newest of which is for food-grade and pharmaceutical processing. A new warehouse at CPS’s East Greenville facility allows enhanced material handling and storage capabilities. The firm can now perform contract manufacturing on-site at clients’ plants. Starting with two founders, the company now employs 138 and plans to continue to expand its workforce.
EcoTech Marine, Allentown
Reef aquarium ownership is a sizeable and growing hobby. To properly care for expensive fish and corals within an aquarium ecosystem, adequate water circulation and lighting are required. EcoTech’s patented VorTech propeller pump allows the motor to be located outside of the aquarium through a magnetically coupled design, for better heat control and flow to protect aquatic life. This substantially enhances the aquarium ecosystem.
EcoTech’s new Radion LED lighting improves aquarium live coral growth and provides wider coverage, better energy efficiency, and a customizable spectral output. EcoTech’s principals founded the company while still undergraduate students, and built it into a multi-million-dollar enterprise with the help of several regional partners. The company’s success represents true regional economic development collaboration. In addition to Ben Franklin, the company received support from the City of Bethlehem; Lehigh University through its Integrated Product Development Program, the Small Business Development Center, and Enterprise Systems Center; Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation through its Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone; the Manufacturers’ Resource Center; and Northampton County. Beginning with three founders, the company now employs 65, and has relocated to a new facility that increases its previous space by more than eight times.
KME Kovatch, Nesquehoning
KME Kovatch designs and manufactures a full range of custom and commercial chassis and related equipment. KME Fire Apparatus is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of custom fire and fuel tanker vehicles and equipment. For more than six decades, KME Kovatch’s world headquarters and central manufacturing center have been located in Nesquehoning and the company is a dominant employer in Carbon County.
BFTP/NEP has invested a total of $200,000 in KME Kovatch in a number of projects beginning in 1989. In 2013, BFTP/NEP invested $25,000 in Kovatch, linking the manufacturer with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center. The investment and introduction helped the company to develop new finishing processes associated with its fire engine pumper truck and tanker truck that streamlined production. Each new fire truck produced will create 1,200 hours of new work for Pennsylvania employees. Kovatch produces for clients throughout the U.S. and is exporting fire trucks to several other nations. Today, Kovatch employs more than 700 in Nesquehoning, and 537 of these jobs have been credited to the company’s work with the Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Micro Interventional Devices, Newtown
Micro Interventional Devices, Inc. (MID) is an early-stage medical device company that has developed a disruptive technology that enables some heart surgeries to be conducted through a puncture in the skin as opposed to through open surgery that often involves opening the patient’s ribcage. The new, minimally invasive structural heart repair procedure greatly reduces healing time. MID’s initial product is the PermasealTM transapical access and closure device. This reliable approach will reduce operating room time, abate blood loss, and simplify complex structural heart repair procedures, ultimately enabling a conversion from surgical procedures to less-invasive and simpler catheter lab-based procedures. It is estimated that the global transapical closure device market will exceed $400 million.
In February 2011, the start-up moved into Ben Franklin TechVentures, then graduated and relocated to Newtown, PA, in December 2013. The BFTP/NEP incubator was instrumental in the early development success of MID’s Permaseal device as its state-of-the-art laboratory became the epicenter of MID’s preclinical testing. The incubator provided space for the execution of Investigational Analysis for data collection that enabled the confirmation of proof-of-principle as well as facilitated the company’s product design.
BFTP/NEP linked MID with key local and regional media that publicized the company’s initiatives and market opportunity. In addition to investing a total of $200,000 in seed funding, BFTP/NEP also introduced MID to Originate Ventures, a Lehigh Valley venture capital fund, that helped fund the firm through a clinical trial and complemented early funding from Battelle Ventures. With the support, endorsement, and introductions provided by BFTP/NEP, MID has received a substantial amount of follow-on investment.
This capital directly enabled MID to successfully complete the CE Mark Study for the Permaseal device. The results of the STASIS CE Mark study suggest that use of Permaseal may improve clinical outcomes, reduce procedure time and length of hospital stay, and significantly reduce the need for transfusions. MID earned CE Mark approval in June 2016 and U.S. FDA approval in July 2016, allowing the company to sell its new product in both the U.S. and Europe.
TMG Health, Jessup
TMG Health provides turnkey business process outsourcing services and information systems to the Medicare, Medicaid, and retiree health plan markets. Medicare is expected to continue to grow as more Baby Boomers enter retirement. Supported by Ben Franklin as a start-up in 1998, the company effectively gained market share and emerged as a major Scranton employer with more than 1,300 on staff.
Ben Franklin provided seed capital and business support resources to TMG at a critical stage in the company’s development, allowing it to design, test, and implement Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant software modules. The proprietary modules provide customers with electronic access to government-mandated HIPAA-compliant formats. With explosive revenue and employment growth, TMG Health has generated significant income and jobs, and substantially boosted the information technology sector in northeastern Pennsylvania.