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Bethlehem's Pivitec is the 2013 Ben Franklin Venture Idol

With a laser focus, a clear grasp of its market, realistic goals and a strategy for achieving them, Bethlehem's Pivitec has emerged as the 2013 Ben Franklin Venture Idol.
 
The company, which develops, manufactures and markets software for live professional audio productions, competed against 10 finalists to wow a live audience and a panel of investors to win the title at a late November event billed as "a cross between  Shark Tank and American Idol." Hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the evening was also the region's first in-person crowdfunding event.
 
Tom Knesel, Pivitec's president and  co-founder, says his company has grown steadily since its founding in 2010. For the first few years, supported by about $290,000 in BFTP investments, Pivitec focused on research and development. It started shipping small quantities of product  in late 2012 and is now manufacturing and shipping a line of five products to domestic and international markets. (World Electronics in Reading is Pivitec's contract manufacturer.)
 
A musician with an engineering background, Knesel saw the opportunity to replace extensive cables and "big, ugly boxes" onstage with software and wireless mobile devices. Pivitec's primary market so far has been theatrical venues and houses of worship – itself an $8 billion U.S. market.
 
Now Knesel is looking to leverage Pivitec's technology into other markets – convention and conference centers, recording studios, airports – a move that could grow Pivitec's market opportunity to $18 billion worldwide. The company, a resident at Ben Franklin TechVentures, employs three full-timers; Knesel says Pivitec is now transitioning from engineering positions to building a sales force and could potentially add as many as five new jobs in the next year.
 
In the final round of judging, Pivitec completed against Bethlehem's Cerora, a healthcare information technology firm, and Hawley's eVendor Check, which provides high-tech, vendor-selection tools.
 
Source: Tom Knesel, Pivitec
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Bucknell entrepreneurs' ScheduleFast takes off

Working out his sophomore year class schedule at Bucknell, Tony Tomashefski started writing software to navigate conflicts. Now a senior majoring in computer engineering and management, his ScheduleFast is used by roughly 57% of the Bucknell student body.
 
Tomashefski and business partner Zach Crowley, were the first-place winners at last month's Business Pitch Competition, hosted by Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). 
 
"Tony and Zach identified a clearly  understandable problem from their own experience as students and have developed a great solution in ScheduleFast," says Steve Stumbris, the SBDC's director. "The traction they've already achieved was perhaps the most impressive part of their pitch; the majority of the freshman class at Bucknell are already users of their product."
 
Tomashefski says he had never built a website when he decided to share his idea with other Bucknell students. "People started to use the site (feedback was really encouraging) so I kept developing it further and further." He registered ScheduleFast as an LLC a year ago and started to generate some revenue with advertisements. Crowley joined last semester to focus on expansion and marketing.
 
The two young entrepreneurs are currently experimenting with different business models, says Tomashefski, and are attempting to generate revenue off the sale of books through Amazon's affiliate program.
 
"I am currently in the process of writing a mobile app for Android and we should have an iOS app in production sometime next semester," he adds. "We plan on building up the website and pursuing a viable revenue model in the coming months."
 
As first-prize winner, the pair will be helped with their prize of $1,500 and one year's membership in Bucknell's Entrepreneurs Incubator
 
Source: Tony Tomashefski, ScheduleFast
Writer: Elise Vider

Penn's new hybrid incubator/seed fund supports education entrepreneurs

With funding from an array of venture capitalists and investors, four education startups are getting support from the Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), a new hybrid incubator and seed fund established by the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
 
Dr. Barbara Kurshan of GSE describes the  $2.1 million EDSi as a "new innovation ecosystem we are building for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and teachers." A mash up of an incubator, design studio, seed fund and social impact company, EDSi is virtual for now, as it helps launch four startups: Adidapter, ApprenNet, Raise Labs and scrible.  GSE is actively searching for a physical location in Philadelphia, where it expects to locate EDSi next year. 
 
The four startups were among the winners and finalists at the 2013 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. A new cohort of education entrepreneurs will be chosen from participants at the May 2014 competition.
 
Investors in EDSi include Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; McGraw-Hill Education; Ron Packard of K12 Inc.; Drs. Steve and Jessica Melman from Dermazoo; John H. Cammack, Managing Partner of Cammack Associates; John Katzman, CEO of The Noodle Companies LLC; the Brigitte and Donald Manekin Family Fund; Gregory Milken; Richard Binswanger, President/CEO of Away To Donate; Dr. Wallace Boston, CEO of American Public Education, Inc.; and Eric Aroesty. 
 
For McGraw-Hill Education, the investment  –  "the company's biggest and most formal foray into the world of startup incubators," according to spokesman Brian Belardi – is an opportunity to potentially partner, acquire or hire innovators in the fast-evolving education technology arena. "We get to lend capital, time and experience," says Belardi, "and we get access to these education startup companies and an ear to the ground in education technology."

Source: Dr. Barbara Kurshan, Penn GSE and Brian Belardi, McGraw-Hill Education
Writer: Elise Vider
 

From wine stoppers to flower pots, Jessup's Besta Cork turns recycled cork into consumer wares

In only a few months, a Scranton-area startup has kept tens of thousands of corks – 91,750 as of October 8, to be precise – out of landfills. Instead, Besta Cork recycles all those wine stoppers and crafts them into an expanding line of consumer products.
 
Shawn Whitiak founded the company earlier this year with partners Michelle Mendez and Paula Corrales after the trio of young entrepreneurs won the Great Valley Technology Alliance Business Plan Competition. Casting about for an innovative business idea, Whitiak, an undergraduate business major at Keystone College, saw a cork chair designed by Corrales and "was completely blown away by the possibilities of cork."

Cork, says Besta Cork, is the ideal, sustainable material for consumer products: it is highly durable, light, compressible and elastic, non-toxic, biodegradable, antibacterial, non-conductive and not flammable.
 
The competition awarded the trio $50,000 in cash and in-kind services, including business consulting, accounting services, web design and office space at the TekRidge Center, a technology incubator at the Jessup Small Business Center.
 
Besta Cork partners with Cork Reharvest, the nation's largest cork recycler. Besta Cork, Whitiak explains, grinds and mixes the cork with non-toxic materials in his garage. Next, it is packed into molds and heated up in his oven for 40 minutes, emerging as Besta Corks' line of bowls, flower pots and even a stool. 
 
The company's line of "Corkit" flower pots allow plants to breathe, eliminating the need for drainage. The "Acorn Chair" is a stool that can support up to 200 pounds.  
 
Source: Shawn Whitiak, Besta Cork
Writer: Elise Vider

Pittsburgh entrepreneurs: It's Thrill Mill business plan competition time

Thrill Mill, a nonprofit accelerator for Pittsburgh startups, is choosing its next class of young businesses to get cash, mentoring, space at its incubator and, by the looks of it, a great time.
 
The Business Bout competition offers $25,000 to one winning team of entrepreneurs and $5,000 each to 14 others. They'll all also get mentoring, in-kind support and office space at the Hustle Den, Thrill Mill's incubator space in Pittsburgh's East Liberty section.
 
Business Bout, say the organizers, "is designed to be ultimately pro-entrepreneur: the competition is open to ideas across all industries (anything from bakeries, to non-profits, to high-tech)."
 
Applicants need only submit a two-page application – one page describing their idea, one page introducing the people behind the idea and why they want to grow their business in Pittsburgh. Proposals  should be submitted by email and are due by midnight, December 6.
 
Last year's top winner was Project Aura, which had the bright idea of attaching lights to bicycle wheel rims.
 
This year's finalists will hone their skills at the three-day Venture Boot Camp in January before making 30-minute presentations. The 15 winners will take up residency for one year at the Hustle Den in late February.
 
Thrill Mill  takes a 5% ownership stake in each of the winners. Over the course of the year, the winning teams will get intensive training in entrepreneurship by Carnegie Mellon professor Babs Carryer and C-Leveled, a Pittsburgh consultancy,  and will get to make investor pitches at the Thrival Innovation and Music Festival in September.
 
Source: Thrill Mill
Writer: Elise Vider

Lehigh's new master's in entrepreneurship wins N. American university honors

About 10 years ago, John B. Ochs, a mechanical engineering professor at Lehigh University, began to observe that students in the school's popular undergraduate Capstone program were less interested in working on industry projects as in developing their own ideas.
 
In recognition of that entrepreneurial impulse among today's students ("permanent and incredibly healthy," says Ochs), Lehigh launched its Master of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship (MTE) in 2012, graduating its first class of 14 entrepreneurs earlier this year.
 
Now the program has been recognized by the Pittsburgh-based University Economic Development Association as one of the top university economic initiatives in North America.
 
Product development and company launch are graduation requirements for the MTE program, which features dedicated curriculum, faculty and studio space. "You're going to learn by launching. You're going to figure out what it means to be an entrepreneur by being an entrepreneur," says Ochs, the MTE director. "It sounds trite, but we firmly believe that you learn by doing."
 
Students are immersed for a full 12 months in a tight, skunkworks atmosphere, with courses including intellectual property creation and management, visual thinking, prototyping, modeling and testing, product development and business planning.
 
The first graduating class has launched startups including Eleanor Kalle, a New York-based jewelry designer; Second Shift Innovations, which creates next-generation tools for first responders; and Venos,  which developed a device to attach iPads to MacBooks to create a mobile dual screen.
 
The second MTE class of 28 will graduate in spring 2014; the program's 10-year goal is to graduate 90 student entrepreneurs and launch 50 new companies each year.
 
The MTE students come from a wide range of majors, backgrounds and interests, says Ochs. But there is one essential common denominator. "If you're going to be an entrepreneur," he says, "you have to have passion for what you do because it's going to envelop your life."
 
Source: John B. Ochs, Lehigh University
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 
 
 
 

Hey! What's the big idea? (There's $25K and more for tech innovation.)

Do you live in Central or South Central Pennsylvania? Do you have an idea for a new, technology-based product or process? Get busy, because your idea could win one of two $25,000 cash prizes in Ben Franklin’s BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest
 
This year’s competition, sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA  (BFTP/CNP) and the BF Venture Investment Forum, targets 25 counties in Central and South Central Pennsylvania.  

To be eligible, you must live in one of the 25 counties; have developed or be developing, a new, innovative tech product or process; have had no significant sales if a product has already been developed; have fewer than 50 employees if a company has been formed and have never received previous BFTP funding.

Preferred industry sectors include (but are not limited to):  nanotechnology; green technologies; alternative energy; advanced manufacturing; advanced materials; medical devices; information technology and software.
 
The application deadline is December 9; final judging is set for February 20, 2014.
 
In addition to the $25,000 in cash, the two grand-prize winners will also receive:

  • One-year website hosting offered by Netrepid;
  • The opportunity to participate in a BF TechCelerator Boot Camp for Startups;
  • Six months free rent in the BF TechCelerator @ Carlisle (for a winner from that area);
  • Assistance from the Innovation Partnership in preparing a proposal to receive a federal research (SBIR) grant;
  • Access to all Ben Franklin’s business support services at no charge.
“We had a huge response to last year’s contest. Nearly 2,000 people came to the BIG IDEA landing page to check out the easy application process.  We believe that anyone with the courage, energy and enthusiasm to apply to a business plan contest is already a winner,” says Stephen Brawley, President/CEO of Ben Franklin.

Full details, a list of the eligible counties and an application forms are online
 
Source: BFTP/CNP
Writer: Elise Vider

Dyer, baker, software makers and more get BFTP/NEP $$$ support

A dyer, a baker and several software makers are among the early-stage companies and established manufacturers in the latest investment round announced by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
 
BFTP/NEP is making loans to these to early-stage companies: 
  
Colymer Industries, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, $35,000 to complete a new financial model, strategic business plan, corporate operating agreement, and assignment of intellectual property for this manufacturer of proprietary non-asphalt roofing materials.
 
Columbia County Bread & Granola, Bloomsburg, $28,000 to complete development of a strategic business plan that will help the company expand into new markets and raise capital as needed for its line of food products for health-conscious consumers and individuals who suffer from a variety of dietary restrictions. 
 
eVendorCheck,  Hawley, $81,000 to develop and implement enhanced sales strategies for the company’s web-based customer feedback system for procurement professionals.
 
Pivitec, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, $75,000 to continue commercialization and enhancement of hardware and software products for this developer of audio streaming and distribution products. 
 
PROVA Systems and Technologies, Inc., Carbondale, $60,000 to support the commercialization of a fleet management software system for small and medium-sized enterprises, and family fleets. 
 
TSG Software,  Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, $100,000 to support a focused sales and marketing effort in commercializing software for business cleaning services, property and facility managers, and building management contractors
 
These tech-based, established manufacturers and their higher-ed partners are receiving 1:1 matching funds: 
 
Applied Separations, Inc., Allentown,and Philadelphia University, $50,000 to develop and implement a new process and deploy equipment for the waterless dyeing of textiles for business-to-business sales to clothing manufacturers and textile companies.
 
Cambridge-Lee Industries, LLC, Reading and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center, $27,650 to conduct testing of  energy-efficient, micro-fin refrigeration tubes at this manufacturer of copper tubing for plumbing, refrigeration, and other commercial applications. 
 
Custom Processing Services, Inc., Reading and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center, $50,000 to investigate how the waste energy from a proposed thermochemical process can be used in the company’s manufacturing processes and as a potential fuel source and to determine the economics, technical, and environmental issues involved with the process. The company provides sophisticated air-jet milling, micronizing, blending, and testing of powered materials on a contract basis.
 
EcoTech Marine LLC, Allentown and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, $25,000 to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning system with features to accommodate facility expansion and maintain quality for this maker of equipment for hobby reef aquariums. 
 
Georg Fischer Harvel, Easton and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, $50,000 to complete a sustainability analysis to reduce energy consumption by 20% or more. GFH is an international leader in thermoplastic extrusions, primarily manufacturing PVC and CPVC piping for diverse target markets in high-end applications such as microelectronics and pharmaceuticals. 
 
KME Kovatch, Nesquehoning and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, $25,000 to develop new finishing processes associated with the pumper truck and tanker truck. KME Fire Apparatus is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of custom fire and fuel tanker vehicles and equipment, and the largest privately held manufacturer of fire trucks in the nation
 
McGregor Industries Inc.,  Dunmore and Penn State, $15,154 to survey and test three new, more cost-competitive tread infills at this manufacturer of metal stairs, gratings, and floor plates. McGregor will also test the tread infills for material characterization and stair tread structural and slip performance.
 
Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Indiana's Arctic Blast Covers keeps bank branches toasty

Working for a bank purchasing department, Dale Conrath knew that ATMs, drive-through windows, cash drawers and night-deposit slots were great for customers. But for the tellers and others huddled around space heaters behind those drafty holes, not so great.
 
Internet searches showed that there were simply no products available to solve the problem. So Conrath started tinkering. For four years, working out of his Indiana garage, he experimented with materials and designs and built prototypes, with significant help from the Small Business Development Center at Indiana University
 
In 2012, he launched Arctic Blast Covers, which offers a line of thermal covers for ATM machines, night-drop boxes and cash drawers.
 
Conrath has a patent pending for his technology, which he claims can reduce a bank's utility bills up to 20% annually, raise inside room temperatures as much as 15 degrees and has the added benefit of keeping automotive pollution outside.
 
A recent pilot program at 16 PNC bank branches in western PA was a big success. And Conrath was recently awarded $35,500 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA for marketing and distribution.  He reports that he is in close talks with Bankers Security, which offers security devices to the banking industry, to distribute Arctic Covers in four states.
 
Conrath is already thinking about other possible markets. Pharmacies are one. Another is the gas and oil drilling industry to address the problem of water freezing in wells when they are shut down.
 
For now, though, the focus is on growing sales for the bank line. As Conrath notes, "There is no competition – zero." And winter is coming.
 
Source: Dale Conrath, Arctic Blast Covers
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Entrepreneurs and startups will be eligible for Innovate in PA funding

The state has officially launched its new Innovate in PA program to accelerate high-wage job growth by supporting entrepreneurs and startups.
 
At a recent visit to Innovation Works' Alpha Lab, Gov. Corbett said, “With 98 percent of new jobs in Pennsylvania coming from startups and small emerging growth companies, Innovate in PA is a common-sense approach to economic growth. Innovate in PA’s investments will help forward-thinking companies inspired with vision to become household names, turning Pennsylvania into the next Silicon Valley.”
 
Innovate in PA, effective as of October 1, will offer $100 million in deferred tax credits to insurance companies in the state to raise funds over multiple years. The funds raised will be directed to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Partners, three Life Sciences Greenhouses and the Venture Capital investment program.
 
The governor's office said Innovate in PA is projected to create a minimum of 1,850 technology jobs, nearly 3,500 indirect jobs and more than double the return-on-investment back to the state. For every dollar invested via Innovate in PA in early-stage businesses, it is projected that $2.37 will be returned to the state in additional tax revenues.
 
“With Innovate in PA we offer new ways to support creative thinking and business know-how with vital investment,” Corbett said. “Every great business begins with a bold idea and we are here to give you that initial boost to propel your startups from a plan on paper to a thriving company that embodies the American dream.”
 
The legislature created the new tax credit program this summer to address the seed capital needs of startup companies and small businesses with the goal of supporting growth and expansion in Pennsylvania, facilitating job growth, new patents and products and increasing tax revenues for the Commonwealth. 
 
Source: Governor's Office
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Penn State funds agricultural research with an eye to commercialization

Innovative and potentially marketable research projects to develop a new fertilizer, anti-bed bug pesticide, farm equipment and waste-to-fuel technology have received grants from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
 
The Research Applications for Innovation (RAIN) Grants aim to stimulate economic development through transfer of technologies to the marketplace, says Gary Thompson, associate dean for research and graduate education.
 
Nina Jenkins, a senior research associate in entomology, is leading a research group developing a biopesticide for long-term control and prevention of bed bug infestations. Jenkins has filed patent applications for the technology, which has garnered strong interest from the hotel industry. The grant will be used to collect data needed for eventual approval of the project for in-home use.
 
Corey Dillon and Agronomy Professor Greg Roth are working to commercialize "the Penn State Interseeder" developed by research technologist Chris Houser. The equipment  can seed a cover crop into no-till corn, while also applying fertilizer and post-emergent herbicide, saving growers time and money and making cover crops more economically feasible. 
 
Cover crops are gaining favor for their ability to reduce soil erosion, take up excess nutrients, suppress weeds and provide forage and biofuel feedstock.
The grant will be used to market the equipment for licensing to potential suppliers and manufacturers. 
 
Nicole Brown, associate professor of wood chemistry, is investigating a value-added use for lignin and silica-rich rice hull ash, which are wastes from bioenergy, and pulp and paper production. Brown's team has applied for a patent for technology that incorporates these low-value products into bricks that substitute for coke, the fuel source in the metal casting industry.
 
Industry trials have shown that these innovative solid-fuel bricks can reduce the energy and carbon dioxide footprints of steel and iron foundries by 20 to 25 percent, while providing additional value for several waste or low-value materials. 
 
Another team, led by Associate Professor Mary Ann Bruns, is studying cyanobacterial biofertilizers and will work with a company that plans to produce low-carbon liquid fuels by capturing carbon dioxide to grow cyanobacteria.
 
Source: Penn State
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Six startups share $740,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA

Six entrepreneurs, technology startups and small manufacturers are beneficiaries of  the latest investments announced by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA
 
FairTech Labs, located in State College and a graduate of the BF TechCelerator@State College, provides an online solution for personalized household inventory management.  Shelf Scouter effectively organizes, manages and purchases household goods and eliminates the inefficiencies associated with paper grocery lists.  
 
Also located in State College, Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies, a graduate of the BF TechCelerator@State College, has developed patented, low-cost flow cytometer cell sorters that analyze and sort without damaging the cells.
 
Arctic Blast Covers in Indiana has introduced a line of thermal covers that are designed to insulate and warm bank branch offices that maintain ATMs, cash drawers and night deposit slots.   
 
Located in York, UniSeal  has introduced FloorEverDri® into the global moisture mitigation and concrete curing market. UniSeal’s green, user-friendly product meets or exceeds all ASTM moisture and alkalinity testing standards and also acts as a primer for flooring adhesives.   
 
Netrepid  in Harrisburg, is an IT services company which is building on a nine-year legacy.  The BFTP investment helps complete a company restructure and will also be used to hire support and sales personnel. The company offers co-location, hosting and infrastructure management. 
 
Conduit Technology, housed in the Erie Technology Incubator on the campus of Gannon University, has developed and launched a cloud-based software product that automates the current manual, paper-based process used to collect medical device documentation required by insurance companies.  
 
Source: Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Neat meat substitute grows from Lancaster kitchen to grocery shelves

In 2011, when her two kids decided to become vegetarian, Laura Lapp "started messing around to try to get them to eat something." From those experiments in her Lancaster kitchen has emerged what she says is the first soy-free, gluten-free, shelf-stable meat replacement and the basis for Neat Foods, which she founded in 2012 with her husband, Phil.
 
Neat started selling its line of meat substitutes last year on Amazon, where it has been a strong seller. Now the startup is poised to expand to bricks-and-mortar grocers. The Lapps will be debuting Neat at the Natural Products Expo East trade show in Baltimore later this month.
 
The Lapps have kept all aspects of their young company strictly local. Neat is manufactured at the gluten-free-certified, commercial production facility run by the Susquehanna Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired  in Leola. Their distributor is Garden Spot Distributors in New Holland. Their packaging was designed by The Infantree in Lancaster.
 
Neat's line of ground meat substitutes is derived from nuts and other natural ingredients, comes in three flavors (Mexican, Italian and Original) and has a one-year shelf life. Many meat replacements currently on the market have soy and gluten and even additives and chemicals, so the advent of Neat "is a big deal for vegetarians and vegans," says Laura Lapp.  And much of the competition is frozen, much more expensive to ship and to pay for space at the grocery, adds Phil.
 
For now, the company is just the two of them, but Phil is hoping to add at least one more, a customer service representative, as soon as possible. For now, the goal is to get into more grocery stores, hit $30,000 in sales for the fourth quarter and "ramp up significantly next year," he adds.
 
Neat!
 
Source: Laura and Phil Lapp, Neat Foods
Writer: Elise Vider
 

LV Startup Weekend winner Skaffl impresses at TechCrunch Disrupt SF

A little more than a year since winning Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend for its fresh take on mobile technology's integration with K-12 education, Allentown-based Skaffl has made a big splash on the West Coast.
 
The startup launched its flagship iPad app, braket (formerly known as "Rung") in beta at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in San Francisco earlier this week. It attempts to create a paperless classroom, helping teachers manage the distribution of written assignments to students. The first version of braket will be free and available on the iTunes App store within the next month.
 
Braket works like this: Teachers upload any handout in .pdf or .doc format to distribute to students, who can complete the assignment by annotating directly on the document. Teachers can assess student work and grade it from within the application.
 
Additional functionality will be added to braket to help meet teachers' needs. Ultimately, braket's goal is to simplify the many tedious tasks of lesson plans, assignemnts and assessments. 
 
Co-founders Rita Chesterton and Michael Hanssen are both education veterans. Chesterton was a lawyer before entering the education field as a teacher and later working as a technology coach and instructional technologist. Hanssen has worked for two decades as a school technology director. Anoher cofounder, Matthew Smollinger (Chief Technology Officer), has extensive enterprise IT experience in networking, security, cloud server management, and web, mobile and desktop software development. Skaffl's fourth cofounder is Angela Moramarco (Chief Creative Officer), an expert in strategic digital marketing with a focus on mobile and social media.
 
Skaffl is one of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania most recent portfolio copmanies. The startup is also working on a patent that will enable students to flip between their notes and assignments, according to TechCrunch.
 

IPart keeps its funding rolling to assist tech startups secure federal grants

Once again, Pennsylvania's Innovation Partnership (IPart) has scored funding in a challenging environment, in order to "assure Pennsylvania's small technology companies that its programs will continue to assist them in generating winning, fundable federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposals."
 
Director Kelly Wylam says that IPart secured a $95,000 Federal State and Technology Partnership (FAST) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The funds were contingent on successfully raising a dollar-for-dollar match from the IPart membership: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, University City Science Center, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, BioStrategy Partners, the Innovation Transfer Network, Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, Drexel University and Temple University.
 
With $190,000 in hand for the 2013-14 fiscal year, Wylam says that IPart can provide training, assistance and review of proposals and micro vouchers and micro grants to help small companies defray the costs of preparing winning proposals.
 
The potential return-on-investment is high. Wylam notes that in fiscal 2012-13, IPart assisted about 25 companies, two of whom have already received phase 1 federal awards of $250,000 each. Subsequent phases offer money in the millions. Since IPart's inception in 2003, the program, administered by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, has conducted 505 technical reviews and 92 SBIR/STTR federal awards have been granted, totaling over $25 million.
 
Despite a drop in federal/state funding, Wylam says, "we have not missed a beat here." For a very small amount of money, she adds, "We're helping [Pennsylvania's tech startups] have a better chance of winning these dollars and moving their technologies forward."
 
Source: Kelly Wylam, IPart
Writer: Elise Vider
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