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Software to snowboard innovations win BFTP/NEP investments

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) is investing in everything from software to snowboards in its latest funding round.
These early-stage companies will receive loans:   
CDC Software, Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center, Bloomsburg, is receiving $100,000 to expand commercialization of its DTK software that greatly reduces the time and cost of integrating telephony systems with customer relationship management and business systems. The software provides complete customer data immediately to a representative answering a customer’s call.
Gilson Boards, New Berlin, is receiving $50,000 to expand marketing efforts, leading to a full-scale launch of Gilson’s innovative snowboards that apply aeronautical engineering concepts for more speed, strength and flexibility.
Map Decisions, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, is receiving $100,000 to provide sales, marketing and technical development support. Map Decisions produces infrastructure asset and work management software, and provides field mapping and data management services for state and local governments, utilities and the oil and gas, transportation and construction industries.
Medicine in Practice, Inc., Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center, Bloomsburg, is receiving $25,000 to add learning content and build out the WEBFlex training platform, which combines the ease and affordability of webinars with the sophistication of eLearning.
Medtrics Lab, LLC, Lewisburg, is receiving $50,000 to continue development of their modern, enterprise-level clinical education platform that helps hospitals and universities maintain accreditation and manage the training of physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers. 
MindMe, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, is receiving $50,000 to complete beta development and testing of their suite of software solutions designed for small and independent businesses to better enable them to capture, convert, organize and engage their leads and customers.
TSG Software, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, is receiving $50,000 to support a focused sales and marketing effort in commercializing software for the building maintenance industry, property and facility managers and building management contractors.
WellSeal Corporation, Selinsgrove, is receiving $20,000 to accelerate the commercial launch of WellSeal, a new patent-pending, tamper-evident device for wellheads that helps maintain well integrity.
In addition, four collaborations between established manufacturers and college or university partners will receive matching funds to pursue technology-based manufacturing innovations.
Benton Foundry, Inc., Benton and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center will receive $22,400 to implement energy saving processes as this producer of gray and ductile iron castings expands operations.
East Penn Manufacturing Company, Lyon Station and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center, will receive $25,000 to develop a complete analysis of recycling considerations at East Penn, especially as it relates to the growing need for new battery technology due to the growth in the hybrid electric vehicle market and other alternative energy uses.
Giorgio Foods, Inc., Blandon and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, will receive $25,000 to develop a facility planning scenario to help Giorgio optimize current and future facility utilization. Giorgio is a manufacturer of retail and food service products such as pizza, mini- and full-size crescents, pierogies, quiche, frozen mushrooms and artisan bakery products.
Orbel Corporation, Bethlehem and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, will receive $25,000 to implement a new enterprise resource planning system at this manufacturer of customized electronic components such as precision metal parts and stampings for the medical, electronics and aerospace markets. 

Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

14 next-gen innovators are finalists in 2015 Shale Gas Innovation Contest

Fourteen companies -- the next generation of energy innovators -- are competing for four berths as winner of the 2015 Shale Gas Innovation Contest. The Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center will announce the winners -- each receives a check for $25,000 -- at a free event on May 12. 

The finalists are 9three Solutions, a West Virginia company that provides inline security devices connected via a centralized private cloud routing server, enabling companies to secure various types of hardware including critical industrial control systems.

Appalachian Drilling Services in Beech Creek is a company whose products include spill-proof, skid-mounted, rig-friendly waste storage units. 

EthosGen of Wilkes-Barre has developed an engine that converts waste heat to electricity. 

Fairmont Brine Processing in West Virginia provides an evaporation and crystallization process that fully treats wastewater, extracting reusable byproducts. 

Fiber Innovation Technologies offers a paper mill by-product known as Short Paper Fiber for use as a solidification agent in drilling operations. 

FMW Rubber Products in West Virginia makes portable water storage and distribution systems that utilize reusable bladders up to 250,000 gallons and mobile collapsible pipeline systems.

H Quest Vanguard of Pittsburgh enables manufacture of a synthetic crude oil through co-processing natural gas with a variety of hydrocarbons and biomass.

HalenHardy in Bellwood is developer of products -- including GritGrab Anti-Slip Surfacing -- made of fiberglass reinforced plastic that provides a surface that helps dramatically improve traction for workers’ boots. 

Identified Technologies of Pittsburgh makes unmanned aerial vehicle and docking systems that provide high-res optical, infrared and gas-sniffing data. They also autonomously swap/charge batteries and upload data to the cloud for access.

Next Gauge in Pittsburgh is developer of the Truck Driver Communication and Safety System (TDCS), a web-based portal to extend and enhance safety, communications and compliance of truck drivers serving shale energy sites.

Next Generation Filtration Systems in Pittsburgh makes lubricating fluids purification systems that remove particles and volatiles, and keep fluids like new for an almost limitless period of time.

PixController in Export is a maker of an ethane gas detection system that integrates a digital methane sensor with temperature and barometric pressure data and provides data access via a low-power, battery-operated, wireless monitoring backbone.

Source: SGICC
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP/SEP invests $2 million in 10 promising Greater Philadelphia companies

Ten early-stage companies in Greater Philadelphia are at work on innovative projects, and they're getting a boost from $2 million in new investments from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Atrin Pharmaceutical is a Bucks County biopharmaceutical firm that centers its research on the treatment of cancers lacking effective therapies. Its technology will advance drug development for the treatment of solid tumors including breast, pancreatic, lung, ovarian and colon cancers.

Decision Simulation in Chester County is the creator of DecisionSim, a simulation-based learning platform that enhances decision-making by allowing organizations to easily create assessment, education and training programs. Leveraging adult learning and gaming concepts, DecisionSim allows custom learning experiences to be developed while evaluating the decisions of learners, and collects valuable objective behavioral data to allow for a greater understanding of decision-making.

H2Odegree (H2O) in Bucks County is a manufacturer of wireless sensors and Software as a Service (SaaS) that provides solutions for measuring, controlling and billing utility costs in apartments, allowing landlords to improve their overall financial performance. The company’s target market is multi-family housing customers who use the company’s products and services for tenant billing and energy conservation related to water, electric, gas, btus and thermostat controls. H2O has over 38,000 sensors installed in 13,000 apartments in over 130 properties throughout North America.

MilkCrate in Philadelphia engages and rewards users who want to live their values by providing sponsored civic and commercial opportunities related to sustainably. Its app serves as a central digital hub for municipalities, businesses and organizations to reach conscientious consumers with relevant and tailored information.

Philadelphia’s Pico is a real-time engagement tool for brands, allowing them to engage with fans during events through the fans' pictures. All fans' pictures are automatically uploaded to the brand’s Facebook Page. Using Pico’s auto-tagging abilities, a real bond between the fan and brand is created.

In Bucks County, PrescribeWell is a new Platform-as-a-Service that enables physicians, healthcare providers and integrated health systems to seamlessly implement a turnkey, self-branded prevention, wellness and obesity intervention business in their existing practice. Customers license the company’s "white label" solution as their own, enabling them to generate significant new revenue streams that leverage the changes in healthcare reimbursement policy for physicians in preventive medicine.

In Philadelphia, RistCall helps hospitals and skilled nursing facilities improve patient safety and satisfaction scores by updating traditional wall-mounted nurse-call buttons with wearable technology devices. RistCall currently focuses on reducing patient falls and improving hospital/patient satisfaction.

Philadelphia’s Textizen provides mobile technologies for public engagement. The company makes it easy for government, organizations and companies to connect with people on the device they use most -- their mobile phone. The platform sends, receives and analyzes text messages. Administrators can click one button instead of making 10 or 10,000 phone calls, and use real-time dashboards to inform policy changes or deliver better customer service.

TowerView Health in Philadelphia helps chronically ill patients manage complex medication regimens. Patients using TowerView’s service receive pre-filled medication trays that insert into a connected pillbox, facilitating complex regimens with preformed ease -- its akin to a single-serve coffee machine. The connected pillbox senses when patients forget medication doses and sends automated text message or phone reminders to patients and their loved ones.

Viridity Energy in Philadelphia, a software technology company focused on total energy management, has a software and technology platform that allows commercial and industrial users to identify inherent load flexibility in their operations and monetize it. The company says its"“software turns energy profiles into financial returns"” transforming how energy customers interact proactively and productively with the electric grid.

Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Toothbrushes, Textiles, Technology: BFTP/NEP invests in 10 diverse companies

Three early-stage companies and seven established manufacturers in northeastern Pennsylvania are beneficiaries of the latest round of investments from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP). Those investments total $316,000.
Loans were provided to the following early-stage companies:
Bison Analytics, LLC, Lewisburg, was awarded $52,500 to complete development of and provide marketing support to their consolidation, planning and business intelligence software, targeted to small businesses that use QuickBooks
Colymer Industries, LLC, located at Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, earned $50,000 to implement a marketing and sales strategy to commercialize a new proprietary, non-asphalt roofing and waterproofing material called Tarzanite.
Four Hound Solutions, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, received a loan of $25,000 to develop and submit a provisional patent and revise their business plan; the company produces software solutions for automated test equipment. 
BFTP/NEP will also provide matching funds for these technology-based manufacturing/university partnerships.
Applied Separations, Inc., Allentown, and Lafayette College received $50,000 to develop and implement a new process and deploy equipment for the waterless dyeing of textiles. They hope to tap into business-to-business sales to clothing manufacturers and textile companies.
Bio Med Sciences, Inc., Allentown, and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center earned $25,000 to complete implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system. The company produces innovative and specialized materials for burn and wound care, and aesthetic skin care. 

Effort Foundry, Inc., Bath, and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center received $25,000 to implement improved production methods and product tracking capabilities at this supplier of high-integrity steel parts for the pump, power generation, and military industries.
Hydro Recovery LP, Blossburg, and Pennsylvania State University were awarded $25,000 to further develop and optimize the economic extraction of useful materials from residual "frac" water used in natural gas wells.
Pleasant Mount Welding, Inc., Carbondale, and Johnson College received $20,100 to develop manufacturing capability and produce aluminum I-bar and rectangular bar grating products to better serve customers, increase profit margin and create additional market opportunities. 

Radius Toothbrush, Kutztown, and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center earned $18,500 to complete facility assessment and planning to accommodate future growth at this manufacturer of innovative, high-performance, ergonomic toothbrushes.
Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc., Bethlehem, and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center were awarded $25,000 to streamline current manufacturing and shipping procedures by designing and implementing new automation techniques at this manufacturer of elliptical-shaped makeup applicators. 

Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA names seven top innovators

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) will honor seven innovators who have achieved success through Ben Franklin funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success, or have improved their businesses through innovation. The annual Ben Franklin iXchange will take place on Thursday, May 7.

BFTP/NEP named Hometown’s Highwood USA as the company that best exemplifies entrepreneurial achievement. A manufacturer of extruded-plastic, synthetic-wood products for outdoor furniture, hot tubs/spas, decks and other exterior lumber uses, the company "demonstrates the successful leverage of Ben Franklin support to accelerate the growth of a young firm," said BFTP/NEP in a statement. "Founded in 2003, Highwood proactively and continuously innovates its processes, introduces new products, and identifies and develops untapped niches in the marketplace…Through thoughtful planning, bold strategy and skillful execution, the firm continues to grow, providing high-value jobs in Schuylkill County for years to come."

Slatington's Luminaire Testing Laboratory (LTL) was honored for its success as a BFTP incubator graduate. In 1989, LTL was the first company to locate in Allentown’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. In 2010, the owners sold the company to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the well-known international electrical testing company. The founder recently launched another new company.

"The LTL story demonstrates the importance of business incubators in providing support to early-stage firms," explained BFTP. "It portrays a successful business exit, executed by a founder who was able to attract an international business to the region that continued to create and retain good jobs. Finally, the LTL story illustrates the commitment of a serial entrepreneur who is now developing a second venture."

LifeAire Systems in Allentown will be honored for product innovation. The company’s revolutionary air purification systems "will impact a continuum of patient care, beginning with the protection of the embryo, to the infant in the neonatal intensive care unit, to the patient in the operating room, and to the elderly in long-term care facilities."
Wilkes-Barre's EthosGen, meanwhile, is revolutionizing the $1 billion renewable energy market with a patented and proprietary Thermal Energy to Electric Power System. The company best demonstrates "a 'break-the-mold/ approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business," said BFTP/NEP.
BFTP/NEP also recognized Wilkes-Barre’s Medico Industries, which produces metal parts for oil and gas drilling companies, the automotive industry and other customers, for manufacturing achievement. "A focus on constant improvement has enabled the company to establish a truly flexible manufacturing facility that has economically transitioned through many changes in industrial needs," explains BFTP/NEP.
Andrew Stanten, president of Altitude Marketing in Emmaus, "an unwavering supporter of regional entrepreneurship [who] freely shares his expertise and experience widely with startups, established manufacturers and students in northeastern Pennsylvania" was named winner of the entrepreneurial advocate award. Edward J. McCann, Jr., retired COO of the Berks County Workforce Investment Board, will be honored for his "strong vision, dedication and commitment [that] have helped the Ben Franklin Technology Partners accomplish its goals."

The awards dinner is set for May 7 at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University.

Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Pew names Pennsylvania a 'rising clean energy leader'

Pennsylvania has developed a fast-growing clean energy economy, attracting billions in investment dollars for solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable energy technologies, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts

Pew found that between 2009 and 2013, Pennsylvania added nearly 1.4 gigawatts of clean energy capacity and attracted $3.5 billion in private investment. In 2013, Pennsylvania ranked sixth nationally in attracting private investment in clean energy at $841 million.

New project installations over the next decade are expected to add five gigawatts of capacity and generate $17.7 billion in investment, Pew added.

The organization attributes much of the activity to the state’s 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, and to federal and state incentives. 

"By setting a goal for renewable energy and offering incentives for clean energy projects, Pennsylvania has been able to attract private investment, create new jobs and diversify its energy mix," said Tom Swanson, manager of Pew’s clean energy initiative.

The state’s Energy Portfolio Standards call for 18 percent of the state’s electricity to come from advanced energy sources by 2021 -- eight percent from renewable power and the remaining 10 percent from other advanced technologies, including efficiency and innovations in fossil energy. Pew reported that because of this policy, solar power and industrial energy efficiency have grown rapidly -- 212 megawatts and 3.3 gigawatts respectively since 2013.

State and federal incentives have also boosted clean energy. Today, wind energy and hydropower account for the majority of the state’s renewable capacity. Pennsylvania’s installed wind capacity is enough to power over 300,000 homes. Pennsylvania ranks ninth in homes powered by solar (nearly 25,000), 11th in capacity added in 2013, and 11th in jobs supported by the industry (2,900).

Industrial energy efficiency technologies -- such as combined heat and power from a single fuel source, and reusing waste heat -- are also in play. In 2013, Pennsylvania ranked sixth for total installed capacity of these technologies, eighth for capacity added that year and eighth for private investment in the sector. 

Still, challenges remain. For example, Pew cited the import of electricity from out-of-state solar projects, "effectively outsourcing some of the economic benefits the standards were designed to generate in-state."

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Writer: Elise Vider

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
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