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Carnegie Mellon computer magic used to understand autism

Autism is a mysterious condition. Ssome, like talk show host Jenny McCarthy, wrongfully say it is caused by childhood vaccinations and others blame environmental factors, but a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has shown that genetics outweigh environmental risks.

Kathryn Roeder, a professor of statistics, and her team sifted through data provided by 3,000 Swedish subjects, including autistic individuals and a control group, in what the university is calling "the largest study of its kind to date."

"Most of the risk for autism comes from gene variations that we all have," explains Roeder. "We all have some of the bad variants, but the question is if you have enough to put you over the edge."

For example: some people are predisposed to being tall, some people are short. Whether you end up on either end of the spectrum depends upon your ancestor's genes, not upon whether your parents had you at a young or older age.

While it was previously accepted that autism might be caused by a variety of factors, for many years it wasn't known if nature (genetics) or nurture (environment) were more responsible for it's progress. Roeder says this particular study was powerful because it drew from a broadly sampled population, allowing results to be more ironclad than they would if participants were sought out specifically based upon risk factors for autism, which might skew the results.

In the study, published in the journal Nature on July 20, Roeder's team tried to better understand the genetic map of the condition so that scientists may pick out more specific risk factors in the future. It’s Roeder’s hope that the team’s research may lead to the development of a genetic risk score, so people can take a test to determine their particular risk for autism.

Additionally, she says the research methods employed could be used to learn more about other mysterious illnesses including schizophrenia.

"I am sure they are going to try this method right away," she says of her fellow scientists studying the mental disorder.

Writer: Elizabeth Daley
Source: ?Kathryn Roeder, Carnegie Mellon

Pittsburgh chapter of 85 Broads announces grand rebranding, becoming Ellevate

The Pittsburgh chapter of the global organization 85 Broads recently announced the organization's transition to a new name and branding identity. The entire organization is now called Ellevate. It features a more modern look, along with additional tools and resources for its chapters across the globe.

Ellevate Pittsburgh made the announcement at a recent networking event held at Savoy along with Young Professional Women in Energy to benefit Special Spaces Pittsburgh Metro.

"We decided to use the opportunity to share the news of what exactly changed with the organization with the crowd of members and nonmembers at the event," says Kristina Martin, events assistant for Ellevate Pittsburgh. "It was an educational opportunity. We brought fliers and promotional pieces, our president addressed the crowd and we answered guests questions."

Ellevate is an organization for female "trailblazers" who want to advance in their careers and lives surrounded by likeminded women who can relate and help them reach their goals. The organization was designed to provide women with a global network. Ellevate has more than 40 regional chapters and campus clubs in 130 countries.

"Ellevate uses the term 'women trailblazers' to describe females who are driven and dedicated," says Martin. "These women want to make leaps and bounds and land on top in their respective fields. They want to propel forward, so they devise a plan for how they’re going to do just that."

Membership includes women of all ages and in all professional stages.

"Membership is across the board," explains Martin. "We attract everyone from high school and college students to senior level professionals. You’ll find there’s an energy you can’t fake here and the women you meet genuinely wish to share advice, help make connections and lend a hand."

Beyond the fresh name, the new Ellevate also features new membership levels, an updated website, new promotional materials and updated methods and capabilities for communication to aid local chapters in better informing the public about Ellevate and what the organization can do for its members.

"The organization has added a new category called ‘entrepreneur’ to keep up with the times and cater to the ladies of 2014," says Martin. "The updated look of the website and the ability to feature local members on the website are also bonuses."

For 2014-15, Ellevate Pittsburgh is hoping to hit the ground running with its new branding and introduce some innovative programming including skill share sessions, a second story slam, a daylong unconference, and one-on-one sessions with experts in various fields.

"More than that though, we truly want to bring together women in the name of fun and empowerment, and I mean that," says Martin.

For more information, follow Ellevate on twitter: @EllevatePIT

Writer: Liz Miles
Source: Kristina Martin, Ellevate

BFTP/NEP has busy July, announces another batch of funded companies

In addition to last week's slate of funded companies, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) has announced the following investments, provided to clients in the form of loans.

Cerora Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $150,000
This investment will go towards the development and commercialization of the company's first product, Cerora Qumpass, a cloud-based software as a service medical-grade neurodiagnostic solution. The company's MindReader is a portable electroencephalogram (EEG) brain wave biosensor that measures the electrical activity of the brain. It combines cutting-edge advancements in EEG design with cognitive and voice-based data streams, all integrated with software to provide real-time, objective neurodiagnostic information in the field. The rapid diagnosis of brain disease and injuries can lead to early and effective intervention with resulting cost savings, improved clinical outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. There are currently no affordable, portable and accurate neuro-diagnostics available to physicians, nurses, first responders and trainers for use in real time.

Map Decisions, LLCBen Franklin TechVenturesBethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
This loan will help provide sales, marketing, product development and customer service support. Map Decisions produces infrastructure asset and work management software, and provides field mapping and data management services. The company's secure, cloud-based mobile platform is designed for state and local governments, utilities, oil and gas, transportation, and construction industries. Map Decisions helps organizations increase operational efficiency, improve customer service, reduce compliance risks and decrease operational costs. 

Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
Orbweaver aims to complete development of a bill-of-material authoring tool as a module in a cloud-based software solution for electronic circuit board manufacturers. Current sourcing and procurement models in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly inefficient. Orbweaver's software platform will allow for more well-negotiated terms with suppliers, thereby reducing costs and increasing productivity for clients.

Pivitec, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $21,100
This developer of audio streaming and distribution products will continue commercialization and enhancement of hardware and software products. Live performances in theaters and houses of worship require a variety of approaches to provide performers the ability to hear their own performances as well as cues. Wired systems currently in use require extensive cabling, limiting performers' movements, and have limited audio source reception. Pivitec uses wireless mobile devices as interactive controllers for its network devices to address these problems.

PROVA Systems and Technologies, Inc., Carbondale
Ben Franklin Investment: $40,000
This infusion will support the commercialization of PROVA Systems' Fleet Genius® PRO, a fleet management software system for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The software integrates PROVA's plug-and-play fleet management monitor that links with its cloud-based SAAS application to collect, monitor and analyze the performance of vehicles and drivers. PROVA's system enables proactive management of vehicles using data derived from their usage patterns and collected from on-board computers. Fleet Genius PRO can reduce fleet operations costs by more than 60 percent versus current technology, and, in many instances, pays for itself in less than a year. 

Skaffl, LLC, Allentown
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
This company will complete the development of Skaffl, a new mobile application through which teachers and students can exchange class materials, assignments, completed homework and grades. This digital application addresses the growing use of tablets in K-12 classrooms and the needs of teachers as they develop tools and curricula to enhance real-time educational interaction. There are no other applications that address these needs comprehensively while also being simple to use for students, teachers and administrators. 

Susquehanna Mining Solutions, Shavertown
Ben Franklin Investment: $150,000
SMS will design, construct and begin operation of a four-million-gallon-per-day pilot facility for the recovery of minerals and clean-up of water from acid mine drainage. The company's process produces clean water and harvests iron oxide, while utilizing accessible geothermal energy as the power source for material processing operations. Once completed, the patented technology will be commercialized for large-scale use.

XiGo Nanotools, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Thanks to this funding, this manufacturer of patented products that rapidly measure the wetted surface area of nanoparticles and droplets using magnetic resonance technology aims to complete software enhancements, allowing expanded sales. Nano-particles are minute; they typically have diameters that are 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair. Nanoparticle properties are key predictors of material performance in many industrial applications, including energy, electronics, ceramics and pharmaceuticals, and currently there are no other efficient measurement methods. XiGo's new Acorn Drop is a product extension of the company's initial product, the Acorn Area, and measures the drop size of emulsions.

Ben Franklin also announces the following established manufacturer investments. Ben Franklin provides 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation in established manufacturers.

Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, Reading
College Partner: Northampton Community College's Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $22,350
Cambridge-Lee will conduct controlled testing to optimize their manufacturing process for copper tubing, helping the company enter new markets and capitalize on market growth. Copper tubing is used in plumbing, refrigeration and other commercial applications. The process improvement will increase throughput and reduce energy costs.

Georg Fischer Harvel, LLC, Easton
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $10,000
This company aims to complete a sustainability analysis to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent or more. GFH is an international leader in thermoplastic extrusion, primarily manufacturing PVC and CPVC piping for a diverse set of customers. Energy costs are a top manufacturing expense, so cost savings in this area will yield a significant competitive advantage.

BFTP/SEP closes the fiscal year with $6.6 million invested in 37 companies

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania closed their books for the fiscal year 2014 with some big numbers.
 
BFTP/SEP announced it had approved $6.6 million in investments in 37 companies across the region.
 
Eight deals totaling $2.4 million were in the physical sciences (four in energy infrastructure, one in engineered electronics, one in energy water infrastructure, one in consumer products and one in sustainable technology).
 
Seventeen deals totaling $2.3 million broke down to seven in software-as-a-service, three in web services, three in infrastructure-as-a-service, two mobile, one gaming and one regional initiative.
 
Life sciences accounted for $1.9 million over 12 deals: four digital health and diagnostics, three diagnostics, three medical devices or biomaterials, one consumer medical products, and one medical imaging and dental tech.
 
Geographically, the deals broke down like this: Philadelphia County, 16; Chester County, seven; Montgomery County, six; Bucks and Delaware counties, four each.
 
Sixty-eight percent of the companies are new to BFTP/SEP; the remaining 32 percent received  follow-on investments.
 
Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Wayne's Independence LED Lighting declares $10 million giveaway for Energy Independence Month

Wayne's Independence LED Lighting is celebrating its namesake holiday all month with a $10 million giveaway program to small businesses.

The maker of LED tubes and LED fixtures will cover up to $10,000 per business for the first 1,000 that register this month. Services include a cash-for-clunkers buy back on fluorescent tubes (when replaced with LED lighting), a lighting savings analysis, manufacturer-direct pricing, zero-cost financing and free installation.

Independence moved its manufacturing from China to Pennsylvania in 2010 in order to increase quality assurance, reduce transportation costs and improve delivery time to its customer base, concentrated between Washington, D.C. and New York City, says CEO Charlie Szoradi.

Since then, he adds, the company has increased its line from about 12 products to over 1,200, and has sold LED lighting to Fortune 100 companies such as Morgan Stanley and Metlife; its wares have also been used to outfit over 25 Navy ships.

Independence cites data showing that with over 2.3 billion fluorescent tubes in American ceilings, the advantages of making the switch are extraordinary. Over the 20-year life of LEDs, the savings would be $331.2 billion and 3.7 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide. Replacing other bulbs could double that savings.
 
The company employs about 50 people across management, sales and production, and Szoradi anticipates significant hiring as Independence explores expanding production with sister manufacturing in California, Canada and Mexico.
 
Source: Charlie Szoradi, Independence LED Lighting
Writer: Elise Vider

County Seat Spirits is the Lehigh Valley's first modern distillery

County Seat Spirits, the Lehigh Valley’s first distillery since Prohibition, is joining the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, with plans to begin manufacturing aged and un-aged whiskeys, vodka, gin and rum upon licensure.
 
"We are very excited to have the Lehigh Valley’s first distillery choose Allentown and the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center as the location to launch its venture," says Scott Unger, executive director of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). "Craft spirits fits perfectly in the niche we have developed, that includes a craft meadery -- The Colony Meadery -- and a microbrewery, HiJinx Brewing Company."

(For more on Bridgeworks, check out this feature in Keystone Edge.)
 
"The Lehigh Valley is already home to some of the region’s finest bars, restaurants, sports venues, attractions and microbreweries," adds County Seat Spirits co-founder Anthony Brichta. "Yet, the Lehigh Valley doesn’t yet have a distillery to call its own. County Seat Spirits will fill that void."
 
"The market for high-quality spirits is strong and should remain so for the foreseeable future," explains John Rowe, County Seat’s other co-founder. "The timing is right for us to get established in a growing industry and to be part of the revival of craft distilling in Pennsylvania."
 
Rowe and Brichta will spend the next few months navigating the licensing process at both the federal and state levels, while purchasing equipment and fitting out their space at the center. The company hopes to be licensed by the end of the year so that it can begin production at Bridgeworks. Plans also call for a tasting room, open to the public on weekends for distillery tours, cocktails and direct sales. Their initial market will be local bars and restaurants, says Brichta.
 
Pennsylvania has a long history of distilling dating back before the Revolutionary War. However, all of the Commonwealth’s distilleries were wiped out during Prohibition. In 2005, Philadelphia Distilling became the first Pennsylvania distillery since the 1920s. A 2012 change in state law made it easier for small distilleries to operate, and since that time a number of successful operations have been launched throughout the state.
 
Source: Anthony Brichta, County Seat Spirits and AEDC
Writer: Elise Vider

Construction begins at Philadelphia's Comcast Innovation and Technology Center

Passersby at the 1800 block of Arch Street in Center City Philadelphia can now watch the tallest U.S. building outside of New York and Chicago emerge from the ground -- construction is underway at the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center.
 
Bala Cynwd-based builder L.F. Driscoll is constructing the $1.2 billion, 59-story tower, a joint venture between media giant Comcast and Malvern’s Liberty Property Trust. It is the largest private development project in the history of Pennsylvania.
 
The new building is conceived as an urban, vertical response to the suburban-style, spread-out campuses of other media companies such as Google and Amazon. Comcast says the tower will be "a dedicated home for the company’s growing workforce of technologists, engineers and software architects."
 
The structure, designed by architect Lord Norman Foster, will include over 1.3 million square feet of office space, a 222-room Four Seasons Hotel, studios for two television stations, restaurants, space for local technology startups and direct links to public transit. 
 
In announcing the start of construction earlier this month, Liberty said that Comcast will occupy about 74 percent of the building’s office space, and that completion is expected in the first quarter of 2018.
 
Source: Liberty Property Trust and Comcast Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP/NEP announces latest funding round

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) has pledged $620,000 in support of regional economic development. The funds will go towards developing and growing early-stage tech companies, helping manufacturers apply new technology and achieve industry leadership, and fostering a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

Ben Franklin has also announced the following investments, provided to companies in the form of loans.

CEWA Technologies, Wyomissing
Ben Franklin Investment: $350,000
This company hopes to complete design, construction and prototype testing of a new kind of point-concentrated solar power dish. Their product should deliver power for industrial and institutional applications at a lower cost due to its innovative shape and build.

Good Vittles, Hamburg
Ben Franklin Investment: $56,000
This company aims to complete the development and implementation of its exclusive technology to support its e-commerce marketplace for specialty foods. Good Vittles' two e-commerce portals serve as direct distribution channels, connecting food suppliers with professional chefs and individual consumers. Suppliers will use the company's proprietary packing process to maintain freshness while employing cost-effective shipping methods.

U.S. Specialty Formulations, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
U.S. Specialty Formulations will complete the set-up, staffing and cGMP-approval process to produce sterile injectable pharmaceuticals for the medical community. Millions of Americans require specialized and custom-compounded drugs, and the current infrastructure is insufficient. As an FDA-registered outsourced manufacturer, USF will employ advanced quality and manufacturing controls to comply with new, more stringent federal quality standards.

Ben Franklin is also investing in the following established manufacturers, providing 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner.

Bosch Rexroth Corporation, Bethlehem
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

This Lehigh Valley manufacturer of motion-control equipment aims to develop and implement a process to automate data collection, driving process improvements and enabling predictive maintenance for machining centers throughout the company.

Fidelity Technologies Corporation, Reading
College Partner: Northampton Community College's Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

Fidelity will develop superior tactical electric power generator technology, primarily for the U.S. Department of Defense. These new generators meet a need for compact, reliable, fuel-efficient and fuel-flexible generators in the field.

Hydro Recovery LP, Blossburg
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

The company will further develop and optimize the economic extraction of useful materials from residual "frac" water used in natural gas wells. Hydro Recovery's process converts the used water into a Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid (HSF™) that can then be reused. This process eliminates the need to transport wastewater over long distances, will save millions of gallons of freshwater each year, and eliminate discharge of treated water into waterways.

Palram Americas Group, Kutztown
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $12,500

This manufacturer of polycarbonate and polyvinyl chloride plastic sheets will complete the development of standard operating procedures to maximize efficiency. These standards will enhance safety and reduce both direct and indirect costs, leading to improved competitiveness and customer satisfaction. 

PMF Industries, Inc., Williamsport
University Partner: Pennsylvania College of Technology
Ben Franklin Investment: $23,000

The company aims to optimize the electrical consumption of its largest motors -- energy consumption represents a significant cost of manufacturing. PMF provides contract manufacturing services with an emphasis on flow forming -- producing metal parts that are cylindrical, conical, or contoured with precise control of wall thicknesses. Customers include the aerospace and energy sectors, as well as users of precision pressure vessels. 

Suburban Testing Laboratories, Inc., Reading
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $3,500

This Reading company will define current and future facility requirements for the installation of a new, centralized walk-in incubator room. Suburban provides environmental, product and water testing and analyses for both industry and municipalities. 
 

Philly's Sidecar rolls on with $3.1 million in new venture capital

Philadelphia's Sidecar, an e-commerce startup, is on a roll.

The company recently announced that it has raised $3.1 million in funding, led by Osage Venture Partners. They join existing investors such as Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania which has invested $485,000 in two rounds.

Sidecar claims to be the first big data marketing solution to automate data-driven decisions for e-commerce companies, replacing traditional marketing technologies and agencies, saving countless in-house hours and eliminating wasted ad dollars. The company offers a proprietary technology built from the ground up -- it combines paid search, product listing ads and comparison shopping engines using predictive automated technology; converts visitor engagement through personalized product recommendations; and retains customers through customized, merchandised emails.

"The conventional tools and agencies put retailers' revenue at risk every day by requiring extensive human resources that cannot possibly keep up with constant and dynamic catalog and market changes," says Sidecar CEO Andre Golsorkhi, who founded the business in 2010. Sidecar has since more than tripled revenues year-over-year, according to the company's Fiona Scull.

Scull says the new funding will be used to grow Sidecar’s workforce -- currently at 40 -- by 30 percent. Sidecar also plans to grow its office space in Philadelphia, expand to satellite locations, continue the expansion of its marketing platform to add additional channels and ramp up customer acquisition.

The company already counts among its customers several Top 100 Internet retailers such as NeweggFanaticsRueLaLa and nomorerack

Source: Fiona Scull, Sidecar
Writer: Elise Vider

Jump Start Grants to boost state's early-stage life science companies

It’s a classic dilemma: scientists have profound therapeutic or drug discovery expertise, but often lack the comprehensive development, regulatory or commercial expertise -- to say nothing of the necessary funds to engage consulting help -- to commercialize their discoveries. 

The Jump Start Grant, now accepting applications, is aimed at filling this void in Pennsylvania. Early stage therapeutic companies can compete for professional services and expertise in the form of product development and commercialization plans, which are critical to raising venture capital and growing efficiently. 

"Early stage companies often lack the expertise to comprehensively address the myriad commercial development challenges which exist in the life sciences marketplace," says Pennsylvania Bio President and CEO Christopher P. Molineaux. "We are fortunate to have partnered with two industry leaders on this unique grant opportunity which gives our members access to development and commercialization insights required for preparation of funding applications and presentations."

PharmaDirections of North Carolina and New Perspectives in Alabama are partnering with PA Bio, the statewide trade association for the life sciences, to award two grants of about $50,000 each.

Subject matter experts will assess applications based on the following submission criteria: concept, scientific rationale, innovation, market opportunity understanding, management team and impact. Two winners will receive service grants that include an additive development plan and budget, associated Gantt charts, and commercial opportunity assessment.

Applications are due August 21. Winners will be announced in October 2014 at PA Bio's Life Sciences Future Signature Event. 

Source: PA Bio
Writer: Elise Vider

Philadelphia's Lingua.ly grows globally with its language-learning technology

Lingua.ly, a Philadelphia ed-tech startup, has launched WebApp, a tool to help teach language through the open web. 

Founded in 2011, Lingua.ly offers cloud-based language learning technology that provides learners with a free dictionary and platform to look up words in English, French, Spanish, Arabic or Hebrew. 

The new platform expands Lingua.ly's services to schools and other educational institutions that are looking to provide innovative ed-tech offerings for language students and bilingual learners attending school in a second language.

The app goes beyond traditional translation and dictionary services and assesses skill level behind the scenes, recommending fresh content and practice exercises personalized for the individual. It also includes new gamification features, such as a words- collected leaderboard and practice-session tracker to reward power users and encourage additional vocabulary searches.

"Lingua.ly’s WebApp enables schools to incorporate new, sophisticated technologies, which reinforce language learning in a more effective way through real world content from the Internet," explains CEO and co-founder Dr. Jan Ihmels.

The Android version of the app was released in early April and was downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first month alone. The iOS app is launching this summer, along with optimization for tablets and extension support for additional browsers. This fall, Lingua.ly plans to roll out support for new languages and higher order language elements, such as grammar.

The company is also expanding its reach through a new relationship with the largest textbook maker in Israel, The Center for Educational Technology (CET). In Septermber, CET will offer WebApp technology to its one-million-plus language learners in the country’s public school system. Lingua.ly is also examining expansion into new markets such as Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Russia, China, the E.U. and U.S. schools via pilot programs this summer.

The company currently employs nine and is closing a funding round intended to double the R&D team size and strengthen its marketing capacity. 

Source: Kim Cox for Lingua.ly
Writer: Elise Vider

Robotic baby-gear maker 4moms expands and hires in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's 4moms is having a growth spurt, driven by its high-tech robotic baby gear. The company is expanding its offices in the city's Strip District to 78,000 square feet, doubling both its footprint and its workforce.  

The company is committed to creating at least 120 new jobs while retaining its 100 employees over the next three years.

4moms -- the company name comes from an early focus group comprised of four moms -- was founded in 2005 by Rob Daley and Henry Thorne who saw an opportunity to re-invent baby products. The company’s origami stroller, for example, folds and unfolds at the touch of a button; it also charges a cell phone, counts mileage and lights up with LCD lighting, powered by generators in the rear wheels that charge as the stroller is pushed. The mamaRoo infant seat can be programmed for five unique motions: car ride, tree swing, kangaroo, rock-a-bye and ocean. The 4moms infant tub is designed to let clean water flow in while dirty water flows out so baby is always bathing in fresh water. 

The company plans to invest more than $4.7 million in its new site, which features a lab three times larger than its old space, giving product designers and engineers more room to develop products. The Governor’s Action Team, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, coordinated the project. 
 
"The next six to 12 months is a pivotal time frame for 4moms, as we deliver new products to the market and continue to develop new innovative ideas," says CEO Rob Daley. "We predict significant revenue growth and are hiring top talent across the organization to support that growth."

Source: Kathryn Jacks for 4moms
Writer: Elise Vider

New on Campus: Drexel's Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships

A long-vacant corner in West Philadelphia is the new home of the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships at Drexel University

Drexel re-developed the site with the help of a $10 million gift from the Dornsifes.

"As the venue for Drexel's research, practice and scholarship, the Dornsife Center will offer space for community outreach activities developed and delivered by the University’s participating colleges and schools, such as a free law clinic, health and wellness center, community education programs, arts collaborations, architectural design-build studios and engineering demonstrations,” the university said in a statement.

The center is located on a 1.3-acre site at 35th and Spring Garden streets. The university partnered with Philadelphia’s BLTA Architects to renovate three existing vacant buildings that formerly housed an elementary school and two administrative buildings. The site also includes an 1850s mansion that has been named Lindy House as a tribute to Philip B. Lindy, a philanthropist who secured the property for Drexel and was an active participant in the renovation.

The Dornsife Center was designed to support the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods and create a space for the Mantua, Powelton Village and Drexel communities to interact and share with each other. The newly renovated buildings provide a range of flexible spaces appropriate for individual counseling, group meetings and workshops, large gatherings and hands-on innovation.

Source: Drexel University
Writer: Elise Vider

Bethlehem's CDG Environmental cleaning up with water purification

After emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, CDG Environmental, a Bethlehem-based maker of water purification and disinfectant processes, is growing again in markets ranging from municipal water systems to food handling. 

CDGE produces highly engineered, state-of-the-art chlorine dioxide chemistries that are safe, stable and easy-to-use; they are utilized in a wide range of sterilization, disinfection and decontamination applications for a variety of markets. 

According to CDGE President David Morris, the basic technology was developed in the 1970s and '80s in collaboration with industry experts and university affiliations, and scaled up to commercial products. 

Since 2009, CDGE has focused on two products for which regulatory approvals have opened up an array of new applications. At the same time, Morris adds, the company has expanded its distributor network to approximately 30 highly recognized organizations serving the water treatment, food processing and dairy markets, among others.

"It's a specialty niche business that has a lot of potential," CDGE Technology Development Manager Peter Dent told the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). "Ours is a demonstrated product in an area that has increasing importance around the world. It's basically clean water."

The company's "products are used for the treatment of potable water and cooling water in hospitals, healthcare facilities, hotels, commercial, governmental and office buildings, ships, treatment of food processing water, livestock drinking water, industrial process water, vegetable washing and cooling towers," added Dent. "The products are mostly used to get rid of bacteria, algae, slime and more, and do so in a quicker, more effective way than alternatives such as bleach, chlorine, PAA and other chemicals." 

CDGE employs about 12; half work at the company’s manufacturing facility in Allentown. CDGE is currently pursuing further development in the dairy, membrane separations, food processing, process water and municipal potable water treatment markets, as well as production and delivery improvements, and a new low-cost, chlorine dioxide generation system.

Source: David Morris, CDG Environmental and Joe McDermott, Allentown Economic Development Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Philly's Biomeme has growth in its DNA

Growth appears to be in the DNA of Biomeme, a Philadelphia startup. In only a year, the company has raised significant funding, tripled its staff and is moving to larger offices. 

Biomeme "enables anyone to do mobile real-time DNA analysis on a smartphone," explains co-founder Max Perelman. The company makes kits, hardware and software allowing users to easily isolate DNA from a variety of sample types (including blood, water and urine) without the need for lab equipment, and to look for unique DNA signatures of specific targets of interest such as Flu A, E. coli 0157 or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Perelman, Jesse vanWestrienen and Marc DeJohn moved to Philadelphia last spring from New Mexico and California to participate in the DreamIt Health accelerator. From there, Biomeme went to Philadelphia’s NextFab to participate in its residency program and ramp up prototyping and low-volume manufacturing; they were the first company to utilize the partnership between Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) and NextFab. 

Now, with a workforce of 14 (including full-timers, interns and co-op students), Biomeme is moving again into a larger facility featuring lab and manufacturing space on North 3rd Street, a burgeoning tech hub officially dubbed N3RD -- pronounced "Nerd" -- Street by the city.

Markets include test developers and consumers, "anyone," explains Perelman, "who wants a DNA lab in the palm of their hand." Biomeme has successfully completed a number of validation studies with third party laboratories and is preparing a number of developer tools for limited release this year with plans to roll out its STI test panel internationally in 2015. 

Biomeme has raised $1.9 million in seed financing, including $400,000 from BFTP/SEP.

Source: Max Perelman, Biomeme
Writer: Elise Vider
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