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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 

 

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

Wilkes-Barre's EthosGen is the 2015 BFTP Venture Idol winner!

Wilkes-Barre's EthosGen, maker of an innovative power generator that produces electricity from sustainable and renewable sources, is the 2015 Ben Franklin Venture Idol champion.

Sponsor Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania describes Venture Idol as "a cross between Shark Tank and American Idol, but with entrepreneurs and investors instead of vocalists and celebrities."

Jim Abrams of EthosGen took the top prize with this pitch: "Our product, the CraftEngine, can convert waste heat into renewable electricity on-site. This presents a huge market as the largest waste heat producers are also the largest electricity consumers -- such as manufacturing and industrial facilities, hospitals, database centers and other energy systems like solar thermal and geothermal.

"Our win," he adds, "really comes from having a great group of strategic partners including BE Aerospace, Viking Development Group and AVL Schrick."

"EthosGen has developed and commercialized a renewable energy technology that leverages one of the most abundant resources available: waste heat," explains Kenneth G. Okrepkie, regional manager of the Pocono Northeast Region for BFTP-NEP. "EthosGen’s prestigious industrial partners…strategically position the company to ramp up production and sales."

About 250 guests attended the November 20 event, which started with eight finalists (all profiled in Keystone Edge in recent weeks). Besides EthosGen, JUJAMA of Scranton, which provides technology tools for events, and TSG Software of Bethlehem, a maker of software for commercial cleaning concerns, advanced to the final round to pitch their ventures to the audience.

In addition to a cash investment based on audience votes, EthosGen will receive a start-up package from Altitude Marketing of Emmaus that includes a revamped website, and a branding and messaging upgrade. (BFTP-NEP has already invested a total of $314,500 in EthosGen.)

Abrams reports that EthosGen recently won another honor, making the top 25 out of 2,500 companies worldwide in the Extreme Tech Challenge; judging will happen in January.

Source: Jim Abrams, EthosGen; Kenneth G. Okrepkie, BFTP-NEP
Writer: Elise Vider
 

New opportunities for military vets in Philly and Pittsburgh

Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh marked Veterans Day last week with new initiatives aimed at boosting opportunities for military veterans.

Philadelphia is the latest outpost for Chicago’s The Bunker, the country’s first incubator for veteran-owned businesses in the tech sector. Mike Maher, a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and co-founder of Benjamin’s Desk  a co-working community, is executive director of The Bunker’s new Philly affiliate. 

"We have a special obligation to provide opportunities for our veterans to achieve success once they return home," explains Maher. "With this program, we are making it a priority to promote and recruit veterans to be leaders in our startup and business communities. Veterans make exceptional entrepreneurs and our region is poised to benefit from their leadership."

The Bunker -- which is temporarily located at Benjamin’s Desk in Center City while Maher looks for permanent space -- will initially assist five startups beginning early next year. Technology startups are the focus, but any veteran-led and operated business is eligible. 

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development launched Service to Opportunity, a new program that places veterans with energy and manufacturing employers who need to fill in-demand jobs. Among its features, Service to Opportunity features a database to help match skills and interests to available jobs, and a toolkit for employers featuring best practices and techniques for interviewing and hiring veterans. 

"Veterans are a good fit for many of the critical workforce needs of energy and advanced manufacturing companies here," said Laura Fisher of the Allegheny Conference in a statement. "They bring technical skills, teamwork and leadership experience, and a strong work ethic."

Source: Mike Maher, Benjamin’s Desk; Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Chevron's $20 million Appalachia Partnership Initiative addresses skills gap for energy jobs

It is well documented that energy companies in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio struggle to find applicants qualified to fill skilled jobs.

Now the Chevron Corporation has announced the Appalachia Partnership Initiative, a $20 million effort designed to address education and workforce development in 27 counties in the three states. Launched in coordination with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the RAND Corporation, the initiative aims to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and technical training to help growing regional energy and manufacturing industries fill thousands of new jobs. 

The initiative is the culmination of a planning process Chevron engaged in with local partners, business and community leaders, and educators to identify regional needs and priorities. A 2012 workforce analysis by the Allegheny Conference documented the impact of the skills gap in the local workforce, especially in STEM fields. 

"We know that an educated and skilled workforce leads to economic growth -- for our business, our partners and the communities where we operate," says Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron Appalachia. "Our success is deeply linked to the region's progress, and we believe the Appalachia Partnership Initiative will act as a catalyst for social investment that addresses workforce development and helps to build a new energy economy that creates jobs and economic development opportunities across the region." 

The Appalachia Partnership Initiative includes an expansion of Project Lead the Way, focused on STEM programs in K-12 schools, and ShaleNET, a workforce training program for the oil and natural gas industries. In addition, it will develop an Energy Lab in Allegheny County and Bethlehem Center school districts to teach middle school students about a variety of energy resources in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center

Source: Chevron Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Ben Franklin Venture Idol Preview: Wilkes-Barre's EthosGen produces electricity from waste heat

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.

It's not as high visibility as wind or solar, but waste heat produced from industrial and manufacturing processes is a reliable and consistent source of renewable energy.

Jim Abrams has built Wilkes-Barre's EthosGen on that principle. Abrams founded the company in 2007 based on technology that produced and converted biomass into liquid fuels. In 2010, the company won a $1.2 million defense contract to deploy the technology at forward operating bases. 

But as the liquid renewable fuels market became saturated, Abrams pivoted, focusing "all of our efforts into our capability to produce power from any waste heat source." The result is the company’s CraftEngine.

The proprietary technology utilizes low-grade waste heat from industrial and military applications to produce renewable electric power on-site. 

"As a renewable energy source, waste heat has a better energy profile than renewables such as wind or solar," explains Abrams. It is cost-effective, scalable to virtually any size installation, storable even for micro- or smart-grid applications, and  "it can produce electric power 24 hours a day, seven days a week independent of weather."

EthosGen has identified three core markets for its technology: defense, industry and commercial energy, with specific niche applications within waste heat, geothermal and solar thermal markets. 

EthosGen's CraftEngine manufacturing partners are big global players: BE Aerospace, AVL Schrick and Viking Development Group. Clients so far include a geothermal application in Japan, an industrial incineration plant in Norway and the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Energy Force in Camp Pendleton, California.

Abrams anticipates $7.5 million in revenues in 2015 and doubling EthosGen's workforce to 12.

Besides competing as the 2014 Ben Franklin Venture Idol, the company has received funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Source: Jim Abrams, EthosGen
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
 

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

Chambersburg's Kur Technologies is developing sustainable generators

In 2011, when Keystone Edge last visited Chambersburg's Kur Technologies, its founder Kurt Hinds had completed a prototype for a small, battery-powered generator.

Now Hinds has built a larger version of his Kem-Generator -- large enough to work as an alternative to some fossil fuel generators and a device with the potential for use in water purification, and medical and health applications around the globe.

"By providing electricity in remote locations, the Kem-Generator can be used to combat the spread of diseases by powering refrigerators, air purifiers and mobile sterilization devices," explains Hinds. "Mobile or permanently installed water purification systems powered by Kem-Generators can also combat the spread of diseases by providing clean water for drinking, hygiene and sanitation."

Kur's generator is powered by maintenance-free, deep-cycle, rechargeable batteries that can be charged via photovoltaic cells, making the system fully self-contained. Unlike generators powered by internal combustion engines, it's safe (and quiet) for indoor use. 

Hinds tested the new prototype last year at a Harrisburg community garden using a small, off-grid photovoltaic battery charging system. The generator powered his electric tiller and irrigation system, and provided non-invasive pest control. 

Expanding on the Kem-Generator’s ability to power submersible pumps, Hinds has now devised a mobile water purification system that he believes could be further developed to serve the energy industry and to purify water for refuge camps and similar situations around the world.

Source: Kurt Hinds, Kur Technologies
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP/SEP investments support healthy eating, healthy heads and healthy bottom lines

Eleven early-stage companies, ranging from a maker of healthy chips to a social media innovator to a company that makes high-tech protective helmets, have been approved for $1.9 million in funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania

AboutOne in Chester County is a secure and private online subscription service for the management of family life, providing a location for users to conveniently enter, store, manage and share family memories (text, photos and videos) and household information (health records, possession and education records, contacts and more). The data is accessible anywhere, through any device.
 
Ajungo Holdings in Chester County enables companies to engage in social lead capture by leveraging robust granular data from social media. 
 
Bucks County’s Brad’s Raw Chips uses an advanced dehydration technology to produce a line of healthy, crunchy snacks made from raw foods such as fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds.  
 
Philadelphia’s CloudMine offers a technology platform that reduces the total cost and effort of building, deploying, and maintaining mobile applications and websites by over 60 percent. 

Cloudnexa in Philadelphia is a next-gen cloud management solutions leader for business and government, allowing clients to move and manage their applications in the cloud with streamlined managed services capabilities.

CRO Analytics in Bucks County offers a unique platform for the life science industry, providing efficient access to reliable benchmarking, key driver analysis and predictive analytics. This unique system gives clinical trial sponsor organizations and service providers the power to adapt their management mid-trial, assess and address functional area performance, enhance alliance management and improve research oversight, making clinical research better, faster and less expensive.

Defend Your Head in Chester County has developed a patented soft-shell, protective helmet to significantly increase the protective abilities of existing sports helmets and reduce head injuries on the field. Market launch is scheduled for late summer.
 
Dynamic Energy Solutions in Chester County provides comprehensive energy solutions including solar power, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency audits to help businesses and institutions maximize the return on their energy investments both environmentally and financially. 
 
Bucks County's Grassroots Unwired offers a software platform built specifically to support the "offline" efforts of non-profit organizations, boosting contributions and membership.
 
SETVI in Delaware County offers a mobile sales enablement platform.

Vy Corporation in Chester County is a software company specializing in shape detection services for the medical imaging market. 

Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider

JOBS 1st Summit focuses on building a 21st century workforce

Leaders and innovators from Pennsylvania's business, education and public sectors will convene to tackle the challenges and complexities of developing a 21st century workforce at the state's first JOBS 1st Summit, set for August 25 through 26 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. 

Among the highlights will be "The Game Changer: Energy = Jobs for Pennsylvania" (1 p.m. August 25), a conversation between Governor Tom Corbett and T. Boone Pickens, who built one of the nation’s largest independent oil companies. The pair will discuss the state’s energy policy and how it is preparing its citizens for energy jobs now and in the future.

"Make it in PA" will be a panel discussion focused on bringing manufacturing jobs home through innovation, targeted reshoring and talent development. Other conference topics include developing talent, enhancing employer involvement, using technology to foster the intersection between work and learning, and building targeted talent pipelines for older workers, people with disabilities, veterans and former prisoners. 

"Having a workforce ready to tackle the jobs of the 21st century is critical to the overall health of our economy," says Gov. Corbett. "The JOBS 1st Summit will build on our efforts to align education, training and technology with employer needs."

Source: PA Department of Labor & Industry
Writer: Elise Vider

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

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. 
 

BFTP/SEP issues request for proposals to commercialize alternative and clean energy technologies

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) is inviting companies developing solar, wind, geothermal or hydro power, advanced uses for natural gas resources, novel energy storage technologies and technologies related to energy conservation or transportation to apply to its Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP). 

AEDP offers loans between $50,000 to $750,000. The program is intended to accelerate the development and commercialization of promising clean and alternative energy technologies. BFTP/SEP says it will consider proposals for technologies that have demonstrated impact for energy generation, conservation and/or distribution.

To be eligible, companies must have fewer than 250 employees and be located in -- or willing to relocate to -- Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties. Technologies employed in the proposals can range from early-stage to commercialization ready. 

Under the terms of BFTP/SEP’s request for proposals, a five-to-one cash match is required for $50,000 loans; loans greater than $50,000 require a one-to-one company match.
 
An email notice of intent to apply is due by 5 p.m. on June 23; completed proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. on July 7.

Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider
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