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In rural Wayne County, a new business incubator boosts high-tech startups

Rural Wayne County has had challenges attracting new industry. Now its economic development pros have decided to promote growth from within. The newly opened Stourbridge Project in downtown Honesdale is a business incubator and co-working space targeting startups in web development technologies, app development, e-commerce, engineering, technology services and digital media.  

“For the last few years, we have noticed a number of small technology companies, software app developers, e-commerce and other technology businesses operating in the county out of homes and garages with little or no interaction with other technology professionals," says Troy Bystrom of Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO). "The Stourbridge Project is a catalyst where these startup businesses can interact, spin off new ideas and access expertise or equipment that may not be readily available to them.”

Another challenge is that broadband is expensive in Wayne County -- prices for bandwidth are in some cases triple the cost of neighboring areas. The Stourbridge Project offers high-speed Internet and data storage, along with media equipment, 3-D printers, specialty software packages and more.

The 1,800-square-foot incubator is located in an old and mostly vacant school building. The county commissioners leased the building to WEDCO for $1 per year for seven years.  
Another key partner is the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance, which will offer business development training, seminars and support systems. An onsite digital media lab will help companies utilize marketing tools such as images, video and distance learning.  

According to Bystrom, several companies have expressed interested in locating at the incubator, where renovations are still underway.

"The co-working space is currently open and is being utilized by several companies as we begin to ramp up operations," he explains. 

A community open house is scheduled for July 9. 

Source: Troy Bystrom, WEDCO
Writer: Elise Vider

Carnegie Mellon receives $31 million to establish entrepreneurship center

Carnegie Mellon University is establishing the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, which will serve as a hub for university-wide entrepreneurial activities. James R. Swartz, a 1966 alum and founding partner of the global venture capital firm Accel Partners, donated $31 million to support the school's efforts.

"As one of the most successful venture capitalists in the world, [Swartz] understands the importance of nurturing innovators and creative thinkers," said CMU President Subra Suresh. "This gift will bring together cross-university initiatives in ways that will have a far-reaching impact on future generations of young entrepreneurs."

According to the university, the gift includes $13 million in permanent university endowment, which in combination with other resources will support Presidential Scholarships and Fellowships for students, a faculty chair, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and an executive director and staff for the center. An additional $18 million will be directed to a number of programmatic and infrastructure projects over the next four years. This includes $10 million committed last year for the creation of space for entrepreneurship activities in the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, the university's major new academic hub. The remaining $8 million, leveraged with additional support, will fund infrastructure projects at several other locations across campus, new campus-wide curriculum development, a new fund to seed ideas across CMU's colleges and schools, and community outreach to engage local secondary schools in entrepreneurship learning opportunities. 

Startup activity among CMU faculty, students and alumni has been robust, with more than 138 companies created since 2009, said the university. And with work beginning on the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, CMU is poised to create a new innovation corridor with global impact in research, invention and commercialization. 

"Carnegie Mellon is one of the world's leading centers for learning and discovery," enthused Swartz. "From its founding, entrepreneurship has been ingrained throughout the university's culture. With its strengths in technology, science and the arts, CMU is an ideal location to cultivate the ideas, technologies and solutions that will make a true difference in the world."

Source: Carnegie Mellon University
Writer: Elise Vider

AWE Ventures—Powered by Ben Franklin aims to raise capital for women-led businesses

In 1995, a small group of Philadelphia-region women entrepreneurs got together for mutual support and access to capital. Now, 20 years later, the group -- renamed the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) -- is the Mid-Atlantic's largest organization dedicated to fostering high-growth businesses founded or led by women. 

Still, according to Executive Director Victoria Burkhart, "there is a sense…that now is the time to 'move the needle' on women and entrepreneurship, and for AWE to take a more active role in connecting women to capital. AWE approached Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), a longtime partner, to brainstorm strategies for aligning efforts in support of funding for entrepreneurial enterprises founded by women."

The resulting AWE Ventures—Powered by Ben Franklin is a crowdfunded, donation-driven initiative to raise $250,000 -- to be matched dollar-for-dollar by BFTP/SEP -- for seed-stage investments in women-led enterprises in the Philadelphia region. The new program will also provide hands-on support for entrepreneurs from both partners’ shared networks of capital, counsel and connections, and events, workshops and published content to empower entrepreneurs and celebrate successes.

“As much as it is our goal to help support the growth of female entrepreneurs, AWE Ventures will also provide an opportunity to mentor future women investors," explains Burkhart. "Programming offered by both AWE and Ben Franklin will be as much about ‘how to invest’ as it will be about entrepreneurship. Fostering increased participation of women in early-stage or angel investment is equally important to increasing the diversity of our technology ecosystem here in the Greater Philadelphia region; really, in the nation at large."

"AWE and Ben Franklin will identify potential entrepreneurs for investment, with full management of the due diligence and investment processes to be handled by Ben Franklin," explains RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, BFTP/SEP’s president and CEO. "Like all other Ben Franklin investments, companies will commit to being located in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware or Chester counties for at least five years, or until repayment/exit. The number of companies to be funded remains flexible and will depend upon the amount of funds raised."

"AWE does a great job in creating events and programs to connect and advance women entrepreneurs, providing opportunities to share experiences, insights, best practices and lessons learned," she adds. "Ben Franklin does as well, actively working to bring insights from its investors, portfolio companies and regional partners into the mix. There's really no end date or fixed total hours for what AWE Ventures—Powered by Ben Franklin can provide. That's what so great about our two organizations working together on this initiative."

Source: RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, BFTP/SEP and Victoria Burkhart, AWE
Writer: Elise Vider

In Wayne, Unilog grows with e-commerce

Sixteen years ago, Unilog was established in Bangalore, India as a provider of content for product catalogs, creating, organizing and managing massive amounts of product content or SKUs (the product information that displays on websites and e-catalogs).

But as the market for outsourced IT services became more of a commodity, growth stalled and a new business model was required.

"By this point we had really created a niche for ourselves in wholesale distribution," says Suchit Bachalli, president of U.S. Unilog. "But I realized what would sustain us in the long run was to venture away from data services and get into the product/software side of the business. So, we took what we knew about master data management and product catalog services to turn it into a robust e-commerce product called CIMM2. Essentially, we found a way to replicate the Amazon e-commerce experience for suppliers, wholesalers and end-users."

The pivot ultimately led Unilog to Wayne, where it established its U.S. headquarters in 2011.

"One of our big customers, supplyFORCE, was there [in King of Prussia] and we had discovered that there were a number of very beneficial resources and economic incentives that Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia region could offer to young, foreign-owned businesses like us," recalls Bachalli.

Sales, marketing, business development, tech support and technology innovation for CIMM2, Unilog’s flagship product, are based in Wayne. Since moving there, the company has grown its U.S. customer base to about 100.

Most recently, as a member of the Chester County Economic Development Council’s Ideas X Innovation Network (i2n), Unilog received a large tax credit through the Keystone Innovation Zone program. The credit will allow the company to accelerate its technology development and support overall expansion, including creating new jobs. Currently Unilog employs 20 in Wayne. 

Source: Suchit Bachalli, Unilog
Writer: Elise Vider

State College's Homeland Manufacturing Services brings electronics manufacturing home

Three years ago, Army National Guard veteran John Bonislawski launched Homeland Manufacturing Services in his 300-square-foot basement. 

Sixteen months ago, the young company moved into 2,000 square feet, and then in late May, Bonislawski cut the ribbon on a 5,000-square-foot facility with another 5,000 square feet available for immediate expansion.

HMS is a full-service electronics manufacturing company serving the defense, medical, satellite communications, sensor, agricultural and other markets. The company assembles electronic circuit cards, cable assemblies and box-build assemblies for original equipment manufacturers, defense contractors and research organizations in the U.S. and Canada. 

The new facility was purpose-built for electronics manufacturing, including the environmental controls and high-output lighting necessary to assemble extremely small electronic components.

"Our new high-speed production line is capable of placing the smallest electronic components on circuit boards at a rate of 22,000 parts per hour," explains Bonislawski. "Our new placement machine also includes electrical verification of many electronic components, further strengthening our core philosophy of defect prevention vs. defect detection. We are equipped to assemble even the most complex circuit cards."
Bonislawski reports that HMS's sales have more than doubled each year and will double again this year even without new business.

"With 100 percent of the profits reinvested back into the company we now have the same manufacturing capabilities of companies many times larger,” he adds. 

An underlying goal is to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and specifically to Centre County.

"For more than 20 years I have worked in industry and watched U.S. manufacturing jobs being shipped off-shore to save a few pennies," says Bonislawski. "After two decades of outsourcing electronics manufacturing off-shore, I believe that U.S. companies are finally figuring out that when considering the cost of poor quality, late deliveries, rising global transportation costs, uncertainty protecting their intellectual property, poor customer service and many bad experiences…manufacturing electronics in the U.S. is more attractive than ever and a better overall value for the customer."

Source: John Bonislawski, Homeland Manufacturing Services
Writer: Elise Vider

In Allentown, fast-growing Netizen provides cyber security to government and commercial clients

After meeting at a Lehigh Valley Hackathon, Max Harris and Mike Hawkins -- both U.S. Army veterans with backgrounds in law enforcement, military intelligence, cyber security and software development -- founded Allentown’s Netizen

A year-and-a-half later, the company counts federal agencies (including the Departments of Justice and Defense and the Veteran's Administration) among its clients and is in final negotiations with Defense and the VA on new contracts. One pending project is a software security pilot designed to protect veterans’ data.

Private companies are also turning to Netizen to provide cyber and software security expertise in markets such as healthcare, public safety, finance, manufacturing and e-commerce.

As a veteran-owned company, Netizen benefits from "preferred vendor" status for government contracts. But according to Harris, the young company has also "built a solid brand among the ‘beltway crowd’ in Washington, D.C. and routinely gets called on for our particular areas of expertise in web/mobile software development and cyber security." 

Netizen recently moved into the Allentown Economic Development Corp.'s (AEDC) Bridgeworks Enterprise Center to serve its commercial clients and is working to expand into a second Allentown location which will be security-cleared for defense work. The company is also planning to expand into Virginia to serve its D.C.-based clients and to open satellite offices in Seattle, California and possibly Texas. 

"We are [also] working to build out a suite of products for cyber threat intelligence," adds Harris. "And we have been corresponding regularly with Lehigh University researchers to potentially leverage an academic-private partnership of sorts to drive innovation in cyber security, especially for data and software."

Source: Max Harris, Netizen and AEDC
Writer: Elise Vider

Dr. Pete's Recovery Drink is Penn State through and through

Dr. Pete’s Recovery Drink is a new chocolate milk infused with both an innovative research-based protein formula and Penn State know-how.

"Dr. Pete" is Pete Bordi, associate professor of hospitality management and director of Penn State's Center for Food Innovation. He developed a protein formula to expedite muscle recovery after workouts and prevent soft tissue injuries among athletes. Working with DuPont Nutrition and Health, Bordi analyzed research and created a formula for a new sports drink that included high-quality proteins that disseminate into the body gradually over about six hours.

"A lot of products only use one protein," he explains. "We wanted to make the best possible fresh product fortified with the proteins that are needed. Slow disbursement of protein helps ensure muscles recover from a workout and reduces the chance of soreness and injury."

Once Bordi finalized a protein formula, he teamed up with Tom Palchak, manager of the Penn State Berkey Creamery to turn it into a great-tasting chocolate milk. 

"Once that product went from theory into actuality, what I did was work to develop the pasteurization and the standardization of the product and determine how to blend it and incorporate all of the ingredients," recalls Palchak. "We turned it into a drinkable product that tasted good and would stay fresh in a cooler for several weeks."

Bordi and Palchak also collaborated with the Nittany Lions football program.

"It’s been a work in progress to get the formula correct where you had the right amount of protein and the right amount of calories in compliance with the NCAA regulations," explains Tim Bream, director of athletic training services and head football athletic trainer. "It’s got everything in it that athletes need for recovery."

The drink is designated as a PA Preferred product by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture because it is manufactured in Pennsylvania through a licensed milk processing plant and uses Commonwealth dairy products.

Source: Penn State
Writer: Elise Vider

Philadelphia's University City Science Center plans to double its campus

As Philadelphia's University City Science Center points out on its website, when it was founded in 1963, "the war on cancer had not been declared, the Apollo astronauts had yet to walk on the moon, and the first commercial microprocessor was eight years away."

Now the renowned urban research park -- already the oldest and largest in the U.S. -- has announced plans to double the size of its campus and accelerate the creation of a globally recognized innovation district for science and technology in West Philadelphia. 

In a joint venture with Wexford Science + Technology, a Baltimore-based biomed realty company, the Center is exploring joint development opportunities for nearly four million square feet of office, laboratory, residential, retail and parking space over the next 10 years. These opportunities include development of the former University City High School site adjacent to the Science Center and the three remaining open parcels on the existing campus: 3400, 3800 and 3850 Market Street.
Wexford has a wealth of experience in this area -- they have already developed 4.35 million square feet across 11 knowledge communities built upon a foundation of research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity. Their projects offer the programs, amenities and activities attractive to life science and technology companies and their employees.
To date, the Science Center and Wexford have successfully completed three development projects at 3701, 3711 and 3737 Market Street. These projects include multi-story buildings with lab, office and clinical spaces, structured parking and ground-floor retail spaces. 

"Our strong partnership with Wexford enables us to take a proactive and engaged approach to the changing landscape of Philadelphia’s fastest-growing innovation neighborhood," explained Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang in a statement.

"Combining the vision and commercialization success of the Science Center, the development and programming expertise of Wexford and the intellectual capital and research strength of the institutions in University City, such as Drexel, Penn and Children’s Hospital, this partnership is primed to create a new environment of innovation and collaboration that will expand University City’s role as the fastest-growing economic engine and destination for innovation in Philadelphia and the region," added Jim Berens, president of Wexford.

Source: University City Science Center
Writer: Elise Vider

Pittsburgh's PieceMaker goes online with CMU partnership

Besides their freshly minted diplomas, 2015 Carnegie Mellon graduates now have an extra bit of memorabilia available to them.

Pittsburgh's PieceMaker Technologies, a startup that produces 3-D printing kiosks, has landed its first official license with its co-founders' alma mater, offering two limited-edition items designed for the class of 2015. According to co-founder and CEO Arden Rosenblatt, the rollout is also the company’s first test of online ordering and off-site manufacturing, and its first metal products.

PieceMaker Digital is making a steel keystone coaster and a metallic plastic "Gyro Scotty Pendant" that can hang from a rearview mirror or serve as a key chain. Both products pay tribute to CMU, where Rosenblatt and co-founder Alejandro Sklar were students when they founded the company in 2013. 

"By August, we will be adding personalization so that new students and alumni alike can tune these special-edition CMU pieces to their own class, even add initials and soon custom messages," explains Rosenblatt.

PieceMaker is also bolstering its in-store presence, returning to Pittsburgh's Robinson Mall for the summer to continue its live 3-D printing pop-up experience.

"After a great first test month in April, we have hired staff, created new content and will be deploying our next-generation printers to continue printing custom toys, jewelry, souvenirs and other gifts on-the-spot, designed by patrons of the Robinson Mall," says Rosenblatt.

The mall pop-up will also feature 3-D selfie -- patrons can take a photo on a green screen and in 30 minutes walk out with a one-of-a-kind 3-D portrait or nightlight -- and a new line-up of custom action figures.  

Rosenblatt envisions a seamless integration of online and physical retail sales, "an omni-channel personalization gateway – where items can be ordered and picked up online or in-store, blending the best of on-demand and custom manufacturing to bring our customers a full suite of personalization options in a variety of materials and technologies."

The CMU partnership, he adds, is a first step in maturing the digital supply chain; more partnerships are in the works.

Source: Arden Rosenblatt, PieceMaker
Writer: Elise Vider

ContactMyDoc aims to be the Expedia of healthcare

With the goal of becoming the Expedia of healthcare, ContactMyDoc has developed a platform that allows patients to comparison shop for healthcare services based on cost, quality and proximity. For now, the IT startup is limited to radiology, but other specialties are on the way.

"The impetus for founding ContactMyDoc was to offer price transparency to patients so they could make more informed decisions about where and how to spend their money on healthcare," explains CEO and co-founder Harsh Singh. "ContactMyDoc offers both price and quality transparency directly to the consumer through an easy-to-navigate online platform that looks and feels similar to Expedia. After entering three basic pieces of information, the patient has the ability to easily compare cost and quality data for radiology services of local providers and request an appointment online. With the price of MRI’s varying from $300 to $3,000 for the same exam, the response from consumers who are saving money without sacrificing the quality of their care has been overwhelming."

The platform, which includes a mobile app, SMS messaging, email and automated voice, also helps healthcare providers increase revenue and employers decrease costs. 

Headquartered in Montgomeryville, ContactMyDoc has about 75 clients located across eight states and is expanding aggressively. One early client was Progressive Radiology, which services Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The company has also partnered with two electronic medical record providers for patient notifications and patient engagement. 

Looking ahead, the company is in talks with electronic health and medical record companies as well as large healthcare providers in order to expand into other specialties.

"Over the next year, we will be focusing on areas such as outpatient surgery, colonoscopy and other healthcare specialties where there is a large variation in cost and quality," enthuses Singh.

Source: Harsh Singh, ContactMyDoc
Writer: Elise Vider

Timber! Forest products show comes to Penn State in June

Forests are big business in Pennsylvania. Home to more than 2,100 forest-product companies and 500,000 forest landowners, Pennsylvania is the leading hardwood-producing state in the nation. According to Penn State University, the forest-products industry has $11.5 billion in annual sales and generates about $19 billion per year for the state's economy.

The school's College of Agricultural Sciences and the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association will showcase the forest-products industry at Timber 2015, known more formally as the 2015 Forest Products Equipment and Technology Exposition, June 5 - 6 at Penn State's Ag Progress Days site at Rock Springs.

Organizers expect 100-plus commercial exhibitors at the event, which is aimed at loggers, sawmill operators, value-added processors and forest landowners. It will offer opportunities for professional development and help participants stay current with the latest business trends, production practices, regulations and technology.

"Technology, regulations and best practices are constantly evolving," explains Paul Lyskava, Pennsylvania Forest Products Association executive director. "The kinds of continuing-education and business-networking opportunities available at Timber 2015 are critical for success in today's competitive marketplace."

"Visitors can attend educational sessions, talk with business specialists and interact with commercial exhibitors," adds Penn State's Bob Oberheim, Timber 2015 manager. "Live demonstrations will allow attendees to evaluate new harvesting and sawmill equipment, and a ride-and-drive area will provide an opportunity to test-drive selected equipment. The show gives exhibitors and vendors serving the forest-products industry and emerging biomass markets an opportunity to reach forest-products companies in Pennsylvania and surrounding states." 

On-site and in-the-woods demonstrations will feature a range of forest-product technologies and machinery, including feller bunchers with processing heads, forwarders, log skidders, horizontal grinders and chippers.

A new attraction at this year's event will be the Game of Logging national finals, a competition based on a world-recognized chainsaw skills curriculum. The contest, with landowner and professional logger divisions, combines Scandinavian logging techniques with the latest systems for working safely around trees.

Source: Penn State
Writer: Elise Vider

Philadelphia's TowerView tests its high-tech pillbox, a device that helps patients track meds

For the chronically ill, managing multiple medications can be an ongoing challenge. One-third to one-half of all U.S. patients do not take their meds as directed, jeopardizing their health and running up nearly $100 billion in annual hospital bills, according to Independence Blue Cross (IBX).

Hoping to solve that problem, TowerView Health, a Philadelphia startup, is testing its high-tech pillbox in a six-month study with Independence and Penn Medicine

"TowerView has two brilliant engineers that have developed the pillbox technology almost entirely in-house," explains company CEO Rahul Jain. "Our team has been working for over a year to provide patients with a pillbox that can sense when they miss a dose of their medication and send the patient and/or their caregiver an automated phone or text message reminder."

The company was established in 2014 when co-founder Nick Valilis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia during his first week of medical school. Later that year, TowerView participated in the DreamIt Health program to fine-tune its business model and meet potential customers. 

Qualified individuals covered by IBX will be provided with pre-filled medication trays, each containing a week’s medication. The tray fits inside TowerView's Internet-enabled pillbox. For those without cell phones, the pillbox is equipped with lights and alarms. Penn Medicine researchers will use an integrated software platform to monitor members' compliance and call to offer additional assistance. 

"Each member will participate in the pilot for six months," says Ron Brooks, IBX senior medical director for clinical services. "The goal is to evaluate the efficacy of TowerView’s system in hopes of launching it to a larger patient population of [IBX] members next year."

Jain also invites individuals -- especially those managing five or more medications -- to email the company directly. 

Source: Rahul Jain, TowerView Health; Independence Blue Cross
Writer: Elise Vider

Homes get smarter, Malvern's Zonoff gets bigger

Malvern's fast-growing Zonoff has expanded into new 35,000-square-foot headquarters. The fresh digs come on the heels of a $31.8 million funding round for the company, which provides a comprehensive software platform for "smart homes."

Zonoff’s software platform enables partners such as electronic device makers, service providers and retailers to deliver new products and services to the consumer mass market to remotely monitor and control thermostats, lights, security systems, etc. The new two-floor space is triple the size of their previous office, and includes a sophisticated demo suite where clients can gain hands-on experience and test smart-home products and services. 

As with all good tech companies, the space also includes open collaborative workspaces, private conference rooms, kitchen and dining areas with cafe tables and local beers on tap, and an employee game room.

"We’ve been very thoughtful in deciding where to invest resources, and we believe that our team is one of our strongest differentiating factors," said Zonoff CEO Mike Harris. "We believe that our new state-of-the-art office and demo center will provide our employees with an environment and culture that will motivate them to deliver on our extremely high standards for innovation and technology development."

The new space also makes it possible for Zonoff to keep hiring. The company has added to its executive team and doubled its workforce in the past year -- they now employ 70 engineers, software developers and sales, marketing and new business personnel. They expect to grow another 50 percent by the end of the year. Zonoff also has remote personnel located in California, Washington State and Germany.
Source: Matt Calderone and Sarah Borton, LaunchSquad for Zonoff
Writer: Elise Vider

"If not for this woman..." Science Center seeks nominations for its Innovators Walk of Fame

The University City Science Center is looking for a few good women -- three to be exact -- as honorees for its Innovators Walk of Fame.

The Philadelphia institution is reinventing the pedestrian walkway along 37th Street between Market and Chestnut as a pocket park -- the Innovators Walk of Fame will be a key element.

"With a name like Innovators Walk of Fame, we thought it was imperative to come up with something more innovative than names etched on the sidewalk," explains Science Center Spokesperson Jeanne Mell. "Instead we’re going with an arrangement of cubes with metal panels etched with the honorees’ names."

The second group of honorees, to be announced in October, will celebrate female innovators with a connection to Greater Philadelphia.

"The Innovators Walk of Fame reflects the diversity of the local, regional and global communities in which the Science Center operates and innovates," says Science Center President Stephen S. Tang. "The face of innovation is varied and diverse, and to be relevant the Innovators Walk of Fame must reflect that spectrum."

The inaugural class of honorees comprised legacy innovators in the STEAM Categories:

* Britton Chance was a leader in biochemistry and biophysics focusing on the physics of electronics and radiation, and developing noninvasive optical devices used in medicine. 

* John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, Jr. created the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, developed at the University of Pennsylvania.

* Frank Piasecki was instrumental in the U.S. helicopter industry.

* Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome. 

* Mathematician John Backus assembled and led the IBM team that developed Fortran, for years one of the pre-eminent programming systems.

* Lockheed Martin encourages its 4,800 employees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to actively interact with the next generation of engineers and technologists by serving as local school advisors, extracurricular activity mentors and career role models for students.

Nominees may be alive or dead, and are not limited by industry or type of innovation. According to the Science Center, successful nominations will complete this sentence: "If not for this woman’s innovation, the world would be a lesser place because..."

The deadline is June 15.

Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Elise Vider

In Philadelphia, Fitly's SmartPlate uses advanced technology to keep dieters honest

Dieters rejoice. At last, a plate that can keep you honest.

Philadelphia’s Fitly has developed SmartPlate, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled hardware device that instantly tracks and analyzes what you eat with the support of a mobile application.

The plate’s design is based on research that shows that size, color and shape all influence eating habits. According to the company's website, the average dinner plate has grown 36 percent since 1960 and bigger plates translate to bigger waistlines. Similarly, studies have shown that darker plates make it harder to determine a proper portion, encouraging overeating. The SmartPlate is shaped as a "squircle," to give the illusion of a bigger surface while providing a 10-inch diameter white surface -- ideal for healthy portions.

SmartPlate has built-in advanced object recognition and weight sensors, providing an automated reading of what a user is eating. It comes with an Android or iOS app that integrates with most wearable devices and food journaling apps.

The plate also comes with a microwaveable lid and in a variety of colors.

Anthony Ortiz founded Fitly, aimed at weight management and control of diabetes, in 2011. The company has established itself through its mobile/web app as a delivery service for fresh ingredients and recipes based on the user’s personalized healthy meal selections. Fitly is a 2013 DreamIt Health graduate. 

The company launched SmartPlate, its first product, earlier this month at Collision Conference in Las Vegas and is now in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign where it hopes to raise $100,000 to start production. They hope to begin shipping next year.

Source: Fitly
Writer: Elise Vider
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