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Startup Santa: BFTP-SEP brings $2.8M to 16 companies

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, aka "Startup Santa," is closing 2014 with $2.8 million in investments to 16 companies. The largest dollar share, $1.5 million, is allocated to the life sciences sector; $925,000 is going to IT companies and $400,000 to the physical sciences.

Advent Therapeutics in Bucks County focuses on providing therapies for micro-orphan applications. The company is currently working on its first product, which will address a serious disorder in newborn infants in the ICU.
 
AlphaPoint is the leading exchange technology platform provider to support digital currencies. Working with some of the top Bitcoin and altcoin exchanges in the world, AlphaPoint’s platform is faster than traditional digital currency exchanges with the ability to process nearly one million transactions per second. The company has offices in Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco.
 
Philadelphia’s Edify Investment Technologies has the potential to radically alter how typical new home construction is built, marketed and financed. Edify’s software shifts the financing responsibility of purchasing land and constructing homes from the land developer to the home buyer in exchange for a discount on the home’s purchase price, offering significant advantages for all parties within the transaction.

Montgomery County’s Core Solutions is transforming the health and human services experience by improving the provider, client and payer relationship. Its technology has the ability to simplify the end-to-end behavioral health experience, deliver integrated care coordination, improve consumer engagement and streamline accurate provider reimbursement.

Fischer Block in Montgomery County is at the forefront of the Industrial Internet, bringing an unprecedented value proposition to the electrical power industry. With a unique solution to embed millions of advanced high-speed sensors throughout the electrical grid, this widely deployed platform will become the industry standard for applying data analytics and predictive analysis techniques, and will improve energy reliability and prevent power outages at a fraction of the cost of traditional alternatives.

In Philadelphia, Infarct Reduction Technologies is developing a device, the LifeCuff, to deliver an ischemic pre-conditioning protocol. Ischemic preconditioning has been found to improve outcomes in heart attack, stroke, sepsis and other conditions. Currently the only other method of providing this protocol is manually via intensive care, surgical or emergency medical staff.

Opertech Bio in Philadelphia has developed a revolutionary approach to taste testing, a multi-billion dollar market covering the food and beverage, flavor ingredients, pet food and pharmaceutical industries. Opertech Bio’s technology can be used to discover new flavor ingredients, measure palatability and optimize flavor formulations. Opertech’s proprietary technology accomplishes the task of taste testing on hundreds of samples in an afternoon, using far fewer subjects and samples at a fraction of the cost, with greater accuracy and consistency than previously possible.

Bucks County’s OrthogenRx is a late-stage, product-development company focused on the commercialization of class-III orthopedic medical devices. Its business model is to obtain exclusive licenses for products currently on the market outside the United States and seek FDA regulatory approval through a novel regulatory pathway. OrthogenRx is positioned to be the first company to obtain approval for a generic Class III medical device using this pathway by the end of 2014. The company will launch its first product in early 2015 and file for several additional product approvals by the end of 2015.

In Montgomery County, PhotoSonix Medical is developing a treatment for dermal diseases generated by bacterial biofilm, such as acne. Biofilms, which make treatment extremely difficult, shield bacteria from attack by both drugs and the immune system, often inducing a chronic inflammatory response. Photosonix’s product, CLENS™, cuts through biofilm by combining both ultrasound and violet light, killing underlying bacteria.

Polynetworks in Montgomery Count has developed a secure, open architecture PaaS (platform-as-a-service), which allows multiple types of sensor data to be captured, processed and transmitted to multiple users in real time using any communication media. This "any data, any device, anywhere" solution is scalable to multiple applications. Potential markets include defense and law enforcement; emergency response; heavy industries such as energy, mining and construction; infrastructure security such as city, schools and hospitals; and information gathering such as news media, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and robotics.

In Chester County, Stabiliz Orthopaedics focuses on developing, refining and bringing to market innovative orthopaedic medical devices. The company has crafted a proprietary plate and screw system used for the treatment of traumatic bone fracture. By integrating biocompatible metals with bioabsorbable polymers, Stabiliz’s technology allows clinicians to customize the repair process for every patient, eliminating the need for future surgeries and reducing costs to burdened healthcare systems.

Squareknot in Philadelphia has the simple goal of allowing everyone to do more with its interactive outlet for making how-to-guides. The Squareknot platform allows users to generate step-by-step guides from scratch, or contribute to someone else’s project, or branch off in a new whole direction. 

Developed in Montgomery County, Superior Solar Design’s "SolarPower Table" is a collaboration of world class engineering and photo-voltaic science. The SolarPower Table is a highly reliable, year-round, off-grid solar energy charging station for cell phones, mobile devices and small electronic equipment.

Montgomery County's Telefactor Robotics is a research and development company focused on commercializing advanced vision systems and dexterous manipulation solutions for the first responder and military explosive ordnance disposal markets. The company’s suite of integrated technologies components add value to military and security robots, and enable new forward-looking industrial and manufacturing applications.
 
In Philadelphia, TowerView Health’s mission is to ensure that patients never miss a dose of critical medication. The company has developed a smart pill box and accompanying pre-filled medication trays that fit into the pill box like a k-cup fits into a Keurig. The pill box senses the presence or absence of medication and automatically reminds patients via text message or phone reminder when they’ve forgotten a dose. The data generated by the pill box will be accessible to clinical staff, allowing them to efficiently monitor patients.

Philadelphia’s Yorn is a unique, closed-loop platform for healthcare, business and hospitality settings, enabling patients/consumers and participants to provide feedback, in the moment, on any experience. Utilizing a unique URL through a smartphone, tablet or any web-enabled device, participants can submit comments or ask questions. 

Writer: Elise Vider
Source: Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania 

 

The Millworks in Harrisburg offers 23 artist studios -- plus galleries, a restaurant and biergarten

Thirty-three artists are unpacking and settling in at 23 newly opened studios at The Millworks in downtown Harrisburg.
 
The completed spaces are a critical step in the transformation of the long-abandoned industrial building, which once housed The Stokes Millwork, into an arts, culture and food destination.
 
Construction is now underway on three galleries, an open-air biergarten, and a full-service bar and restaurant that will specialize in locally sourced food. The Millworks will also function as a live music venue.
 
Owned and developed by Joshua Kesler, the mixed-use hub is located in Harrisburg’s historic Midtown District near the Broad Street Market, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and the Susquehanna Art Museum. Its stated mission "is a simple one: to create a regional destination which showcases Central Pennsylvania’s wonderful artistic talents as well as our region’s bountiful, sustainable agriculture. With our hyper-local approach, we look forward to being a part of Midtown Harrisburg’s renaissance, supporting local growers, local artists and local businesses."
 
Patrick Garrity, The Millworks' operations manager, says that the 160-seat restaurant and bar will open early next year.

"We are passionate about showcasing Central Pennsylvania's bountiful agriculture," he explains. "All of the dishes served at our restaurant will fully consist of local and sustainable ingredients sourced from local farms. Our menu will also change seasonally."
 
The 50-seat open-air biergarten will have a view of the restaurant, art galleries and studios. A 200-seat rooftop terrace is also planned -- it will be the city’s largest outdoor serving space. Once fully operational, restaurant and biergarten guests will be also able to watch sculptors, painters, photographers and others at work in their studios and purchase artworks at the on-site galleries.
 
Source: Patrick Garrity, The Millworks
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Bucks County biotech incubator adding capacity thanks to federal grant

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Pennsylvania in Doylestown is expanding its space and its capacity to support more startups thanks to a new $4.2 million federal grant.

The Center, which opened in 2006 in an abandoned warehouse as a partnership between the Hepatitis B Foundation and Delaware Valley College, will add 15 laboratories, office space, increased emergency power capacity and new, high-tech freezer capacity. 

Five companies have already committed to locating in the expanded incubator space, and even more life sciences companies can be accommodated, says Operating Officer Lou Kassa. 

Those new tenants include Flow Metric, a provider of state-of-the-art flow cytometry and cell sorting services; Novira Therapeutics, a company working on a cure for Hepatitis B; Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, an organization that works to translate biomedical research into commercial opportunities; Synergy Pharmaceuticals, an enterprise developing treatment for gastrointestinal disease; and Cross Current Corp., a software developer that serves the healthcare market.

"We are extremely excited about the project and the growth is very beneficial for life sciences companies and the surrounding community," says Kassa.

The grant comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and is expected to generate 90 jobs and more than $450,000 in private investment.

"Recent changes and downsizing in the sciences and pharmaceutical industries in the Bucks County area, coupled with industry mergers and consolidation, have resulted in mid- and late-career separations for highly educated professionals and have created a nexus for entrepreneurship to flourish," explained the EDA in a statement announcing the grant. "The Center is recognized as a significant regional resource for biotechnology incubation and has reached capacity. It needs to expand in order to continue supporting entrepreneurs emerging from the life sciences and academic environments that are advancing innovations in pharmaceutical discovery and green sectors."

Source: US EDA and Lou Kassa, Bucks County Biotechnology Center
Writer: Elise Vider

New GE center to focus on 3D printing as a manufacturing tool

GE is making a major investment in 3D printing and so-called additive manufacturing -- the company plans to build a research and manufacturing facility in Findlay Township, outside of Pittsburgh. The new center represents a $32 million investment over three years and, according to GE, will result in the creation of 50 high-tech engineering jobs.
   
"The new facility will be the bridge between R&D and full-scale manufacturing," explains Barbara Negroe, Additive Business Leader: GE Supply Chain. "There is a gap right now between something proven out as feasible in a lab environment and something we would feel is ready to turn over to a plant to begin full-rate production. Plants normally do not have the knowledge [when it comes to additive] or the time to stop and work through all of the issues that come with developing a new part or process."
 
GE is all-in on additive manufacturing, which uses advanced 3D printers to manufacture parts and products, one layer at a time.  The company is already using parts produced with additive manufacturing in a production aircraft engine and gas turbine.

"We use it for prototyping designs to be able to quickly review parts and fit up," says Negroe.
 
The new facility will focus on developing and implementing additive manufacturing technologies across GE’s industrial businesses and on developing a training program for GE technologists in additive manufacturing.
 
The company chose the Findlay Township location "to capitalize on the renowned academic institutions and skilled workforce in the area," explains Negroe, adding that the company already has several small projects underway with area universities and will explore further partnerships.
 
Construction is expected to begin in March and be completed by September 2015.
 
Source: Barbara Negroe, GE Supply Chain
Writer: Elise Vider

Call for Ideas: 4th Annual Shale Gas Innovation Contest accepting entries

Are you a researcher, entrepreneur or small business in Pennsylvania (or West Virginia) focused on developing a new product or service for the shale energy space? If so, the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center has an offer you can't refuse.

Entries are now being accepted for the 4th Annual Shale Gas Innovation Contest. Once again, the four best shale energy-oriented innovations, new product ideas or service concepts will win $25,000 cash and other support.

The organizers are looking for innovations that are either in the development stage or recently launched. Any idea or already commercialized product or service related to the shale energy space is eligible. Examples include natural gas or NGL utilization products and services; novel materials or chemicals to enhance performance, prevent corrosion or improve product yield; remote site monitoring technologies; well pad EH&S products or services; natural gas or NGL conversion technologies; and water management or remediation technologies.

"We continue to be amazed by the rapid pace of innovation adoption across the shale energy play," says SGICC Director Bill Hall. "Entrepreneurs along with many small businesses are playing a significant role, developing new technologies or offering existing products or services already in use in other areas. Through the contest, SGICC shines a light on the best new innovations being developed in our region."

Hall reports that last year's Pennsylvania winners are thriving.

"Optimum Pumping is continuing with mid-stream trial demonstrations and early indications are that they are going very well," he says. "KCF Technologies has had a rather significant penetration in the shale gas industry and made at least one large project sale to a field services company. TM Industrial Supply, as a result of the contest, made manufacturing changes to reduce the time required to produce their filtration product and has at least one major sale, and anticipates more."
 
The contest attracted 70 entries last year. Expecting even more this year, Hall urges applicants to submit ahead of the February 1 deadline. A panel of industry experts will choose the finalists. 

Source: Bill Hall, Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center
Writer: Elise Vider

Phoenix Contact expands its manufacturing and R&D capacity near Harrisburg

In 2005, Phoenix Contact, a German maker of industrial electrical and electronic technology products, established a development and manufacturing (D&M) subsidiary in Swatara Township near Harrisburg. The facility was intended to meet the needs of customers in North and South America by designing new products based on American standards and customer needs.

Now Phoenix Contact has significantly expanded its plant to accommodate a growing workforce and increase its manufacturing capacity. 

The company recently dedicated a three-story 125,000-square-foot addition, bringing its total space to 360,000 square feet.

"Our growth over the past five years in particular had our development and production teams located in different areas of our current facility as well as rented space across the street from our campus," explains Vice President David Skelton. "This new facility allows all of the teams that work together to be located together."

The addition includes 50,000 square feet of production and support space designed to improve material flow throughout the facility and expand overall production capacity. New open offices facilitate collaboration and allow for easy re-configuration. New engineering laboratories support research and development, primarily of products used in the connection, collection, protection and automation of field signals in industry, says Skelton. The expansion is also energy efficient and includes a green roof.

Phoenix Contact's D&M workforce in Swatara Township has grown to 220, primarily in professional positions such as production logistics, manufacturing, electrical, mechanical, computer engineering and project management. (The company employs 521 total at the location, including sales and other personnel.)

Among the products developed there in recent years are standard function Ethernet switches, 900 MHz wireless products, and customer-specific connection and signal conditioning products for Enphase, a leading global manufacturer of micro inverters for the solar industry. 

Source: David Skelton, Phoenix Contact
Writer: Elise Vider

Ben Franklin Venture Idol Preview: Bethlehem's Map Decisions software helps manage infrastructure

Keystone Edge is profiling contestants in the upcoming Ben Franklin Venture Idol competition (Nov. 20 at Ben Franklin TechVentures). After earning their way through the afternoon selection process, entrepreneurs pitch their startups to investors and attendees. Ben Franklin will invest $15,000 based on the "crowd-funded" audience vote.

For strapped local governments, compliance with everything from stormwater management regulations to inventorying traffic signals can be a big job.

"With revenues declining and infrastructure aging, municipalities need to maximize the value from their existing assets," says Christian Birch, founder of Bethlehem's Map Decisions. "And even though budgets are getting tighter, demands for high quality service and accountability increase every day. In recent years, local governments face growing regulatory compliance demands that present an increased risk of fines and tort liability claims. Municipalities need to ensure that infrastructure assets are available, safe, reliable and performing to design standards."

Map Decisions streamlines the process of mapping, managing and analyzing infrastructure assets. Its Mobile Enterprise Asset Management System, launched earlier this year, is a secure, cloud-based mobile platform that combines the benefits of geographic information systems (GIS), mobile work orders and computerized maintenance management systems. Aimed at governments, utilities, and the energy, transportation and construction industries, Map Decisions’ products are affordable, easy-to-use, can be set-up quickly and require no long-term commitment, says Birch.

"These services are an attractive option for customers that do not have the staff required to conduct the collection of data for their initial asset inventory," he explains. "For example, our Traffic Sign Management module helps municipalities comply with a federal mandate that requires them to map and capture 30 different attributes for each road sign that is located within their municipality. Our product dramatically reduces the time required to capture and manage asset data versus paper-based processes. If our customers don't have the staff to complete their initial inventories, Map Decisions will conduct [them]. Once completed, Map Decisions will provide them with their complete data and the free use of our software for a year."

Looking ahead, the company will focus on sales and marketing; it is on target to hit revenue projections for this year and projects quadrupled revenue next year. Map Decisions doubled its staff from two to four in the past three months, and anticipates creating four additional jobs in the next 12 months. 

Source: Christian Birch, Map Decisions
Writer: Elise Vider

Freight Train Coming: CSX Pittsburgh intermodal facility will link to Midwest and beyond

CSX Corporation, the transportation giant, is deep into the planning process for its Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal. When completed, the project will provide Western Pennsylvania companies with a direct freight rail link to the Midwest and beyond.

"Freight rail is the most environmentally friendly way to move goods over land," says CSX spokesperson Melanie Cost. "One CSX train can move a ton of freight 470 miles on one gallon of fuel, and every intermodal train takes up to 280 trucks off the road. CSX's intermodal service involves partnering with trucking companies and other logistics providers to take advantage of the long-haul efficiency of rail and the short-haul flexibility of trucking."

CSX is investing between $50 and $60 million in the facility, which will be built at the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township. 

The project is expected to generate approximately 350 construction jobs during the building phase, and 40 on-site and 40 drayage jobs once operational. The terminal is also expected to create about 100 indirect jobs at support businesses.

As for the timetable, the project is currently in the planning, development and permitting stage, which will continue into 2015. Construction is expected to take about two years.  

"Once the terminal is completed, businesses in the Pittsburgh region will have double-stack connections to CSX’s intermodal hub in Northwest Ohio, and connections from there to key markets in the West, the Southwest, the Southeast and Mexico," explains Cost. "That means they’ll have more efficient, more reliable access to major consumption markets beyond their current reach."

Earlier this month, The Pennsylvania Economic Development Association awarded CSX the 2013 Economic Development Partner of the Year Award for its work developing the "environmentally friendly rail corridor connecting the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest."

Source: Melanie Cost, CSX Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider

Manheim's Spooky Nook Sports, already huge, keeps expanding

It's not particularly spooky, but it certainly is big. Spooky Nook Sports claims to be nearly twice the size of the next biggest sports complex facility in the country. (In fact, Spooky Nook says it isn’t aware of any indoor sports complex quite as big anywhere else in the world.)

Owner Sam Beiler acquired the vacant Armstrong Flooring Warehouse on Spooky Nook Road in Manheim in 2011. Surrounded by 65 acres, the vast structure has 14 acres under its roof.

"Even though the building was empty and in need of renovation, everyone agreed it just screamed whistles, cheering crowds, and the hustle and bustle of an exciting sports venue," says the company on its website.

Spooky Nook opened last year and today offers 20-plus sports programs for everyone from the serious athlete to the weekend warrior. Facilities include 10 hardwood courts, acres of sport court and turf fields, an outdoor field hockey pitch, a domed turf field, six tennis courts, an indoor baseball diamond and 14 batting cages. The Nook also features a fitness center, group exercise classes, daycare, a sports performance area, a game arcade, a food court, a smoothie bar, a pro shop, a rock climbing gym, meeting space and birthday party rooms. Orthopedics Associates of Lancaster is on-site and the Women’s USA Field Hockey Team calls Spooky Nook home.

Now Beiler is adding a 130-room hotel and 260-seat restaurant, which he will own and operate. The hotel and restaurant are under construction with a scheduled completion date of spring 2015, says spokesperson Stephanie Jordan.

"Spooky Nook is growing at a rapid rate," explains Jordan. "Each season we've been adding new programs and aspects to our business. New pieces to the business include field trips, senior activities, home schooler events and additional sports programming."

Spooky Nook employs 86 full-time and more than 215 part-time employees, and management anticipates more hires for the hotel and restaurant. 

Source: Stephanie Jordan, Spooky Nook Sports
Writer: Elise Vider
 

AmerisourceBergen expands to Conshohocken; 185 jobs to follow

AmerisourceBergen, a global pharmaceutical services company, is expanding into a new location in Conshohocken and expects to create at least 185 new jobs over the next three years.

"As a company, we just crested $100 billion in annualized revenues, and our growth in business is driving the opportunity to expand our presence in the Philadelphia area," says Brett Ludwig, the company's vice president of communications. "The company will retain 1,200 existing Pennsylvania-based positions, 850 of which are in the Philadelphia area, and has committed to creating at least 185 new jobs over the next three years. In addition to the new office in Conshohocken, AmerisourceBergen will maintain its presence in the Valley Forge campus location."

Ludwig adds that the new office will provide workspace for a variety of professional-level roles in finance, human resources and information technology.

AmerisourceBergen will lease and renovate Millennium III, an existing 70,000-square-foot office building in Conshohocken. The company plans to make a multi-million dollar investment at the site and the expansion is expected to be completed by end of 2014.

The company received a funding proposal from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $675,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant that facilitates investment and job creation ,and $555,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits. AmerisourceBergen has accepted the funding proposal, applied for each grant and agreed to the terms prior to award receipt.

The expansion, said AmerisourceBergen President and CEO Steve Collis, "will give us the opportunity, in both our new and current locations, to make our associate work experience even more collaborative, rewarding and efficient."

Source: Brett Ludwig, Amerisource Bergen
Writer: Elise Vider

Spin-off StratisIS EMS opens another market for Philly's BuLogics

Philadelphia's rapidly morphing BuLogics has spun off another company -- only a year in, the new enterprise is already profitable, with a growing list of clients and strategic partners.

BuLogics certifies, designs and builds wireless systems for the Internet of Things, the rapidly growing arena in which everyday objects are connected (think thermostats, locks, lights). In 2011, BuLogics spun off its consumer products division to a new firm, Zonoff

In October 2013, BuLogics subdivided again, spinning off StratIS EMS "in an effort to give focused attention to a scalable growth model inherently difficult to create when providing hourly engineering and certification services in what remains a niche (though potentially explosive) market," explains CEO Felicite Moorman. "StratIS is software as a service, with limited hardware, maximizing margins and reducing our overhead."

Like Zonoff, StratIS is focused on the "extremely neglected" multi-family energy efficiency market.

"StratIS has yet to pursue funding but has already attracted interest from some of the most influential housing authorities in the United States and some of the largest manufacturers in the world," says Moorman. "It's a game changer within the multifamily industry, and we wanted to make sure we could take advantage of funding opportunities, independent of BuLogics, should our growth require it."

StratIS recently released a new product, an iOS Estimator App that gives facilities managers and owners a simple way to explore and execute rapid return-on-investment energy management and control systems. 

"Multifamily is low hanging fruit for us and it is absolutely just the beginning," insists Moorman. "As a bootstrapped technology company, profitability and managed growth are of primary importance. While remaining true to our core offering, we've just expanded to access management [wireless door locks], demonstrated a security offering for a proven international serial entrepreneur, and we're working with a local health alliance to expand into the aging in place and health management for senior living centers -- all based on software requiring relatively minor iterations."

BuLogics and StratIS are co-located in Philadelphia; the two companies are actively hiring and expanding. 

Source: Felicite Moorman, StratIS EMS
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Exton's EMS opening an independent simulation center for healthcare training

For years, Exton's Education Management Solutions (EMS) has provided the medical field with software and audio-video devices for training.

Now CEO Anurag Singh is preparing to open a state-of-the-art training facility at the company's headquarters, where medical personnel, emergency medical technicians, home health providers, first responders and other health professionals can learn and practice skills.

Singh has invested more than $1 million in the "Global Institute for Simulation Training," a 5,000-square foot facility equipped with full-body mannequins, 10 individual training rooms and two large conference spaces, all integrated with EMS training software. 

Simulation training is an essential component for accreditation and continuing education for many medical practitioners, but they are also expensive and many community colleges, small hospitals and other institutions lack such facilities. 

As an independent (and nonprofit) center, the new institute will offer "interactive, onsite training in a safe environment with leading-edge technical solutions" to the Philadelphia region, explains Singh.

The center is set to open on November 13. EMS already has two commitments for active use. Singh's hope is that the Exton center will serve as a pilot for a nationwide network to serve hospitals and education programs that lack their own facilities. 

The goal is for the center to eventually have its own dedicated staff. For now, EMS staff, currently at 78 with six open positions, will run it.

Source: Anurag Singh, Education Management Solutions
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Major solar system will power Urban Outfitters' new center

Urban Outfitters' huge new direct-to-consumer fulfillment center is under construction in Salisbury Township. When complete next summer, its vast roof will support the largest roof-mounted solar energy system in Pennsylvania and the seventh largest energy system in the state.

Solar will provide up to half of the company's energy needs at the site.

URBN, as the corporate entity of the Philadelphia-based retail giant is known, is eagerly anticipating the 970,000-square-foot, $110 million center. The project is on schedule and on budget, according to several press reports. When fully operational next year, it will employ 500, even more at peak times. 

URBN purchased the 52-acre tract last year in a newly created Keystone Opportunity Zone. The site is adjacent to the company's much smaller distribution center that opened it 1996; that facility employs 117. This summer, the state announced that it had awarded a $3 million Economic Growth Initiative grant to the company for the solar array. 

URBN is also on the grow at its headquarters at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, where it already occupies over 400,000 square feet.

Source: Office of the Governor
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

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
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