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Philly startup Grand Round Table brings technology to medical ritual

Grand rounds are a medical ritual -- regular conferences held at academic medical centers, where doctors, med students and other health care professionals convene to discuss challenging cases, share experiences and talk about relevant research.

Now, with the mass adoption of electronic health records (accelerated by the Affordable Care Act), a Philadelphia startup is aiming to modernize the grand rounds model by sharing best practices through technology.

Eric King, a former medical student and self-described data nerd, launched Grand Round Table (GRT) with co-founder John Schaeffer "because I saw the potential to enhance patient care with the same big data technologies that touch our everyday lives with Google and Amazon," he explains.

GRT's software both enables hospitals and health systems to fulfill upcoming government mandates requiring the implementation of clinical decision support solutions, and saves clinicians time digging for patient-centered resources.

Accorind to King, the company "is using the latest big data technologies to make it possible to continuously connect health care providers in any setting with the collective intelligence of the whole health system for any patient when it’s needed at the point-of-care... Our clinical decision support software automatically transforms the information that clinicians enter into the electronic health record about their patients into actionable insights based on the latest medical literature."

In a partnership with Philadelphia’s Einstein Medical Center, the company is performing at 70 percent accuracy making correct diagnoses on past cases, and two-thirds of residents report that the software enhances their educational experience during daily clinical conferences.
 
Within the next six months, GRT expects to launch a closed beta of its electronic-health-records application at several outpatient primary care sites in the Philadelphia area. Further along, GRT plans to expand into other kinds of health records and inpatient sites, and to launch another product for health plans.

Besides King, the company has two other employees and hopes to make two more hires in the next year. GRT is a graduate of the inaugural DreamIt Health program. The company stayed in Philadelphia, and is now located at the co-working space Indy Hall. Earlier this year the company received a $50,000 investment through the Technology Commercialization Fund of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Source: Eric King, Grand Round Table
Writer: Elise Vider

Raising Capital: Harrisburg Startup Week runs September 29 to October 5

Harrisburg is getting ready to roll up its sleeves once again at the 2014 Harrisburg Startup Week. About 1,500 attendees are expected from September 29 to October 5 at daily events, all aimed at boosting the tech startup scene in Central Pennsylvania.

The week culminates in Startup Weekend, October 3-5 -- more than 100 would-be entrepreneurs are expected to build startups from scratch. Organizers promise over $20,000 in prizes via products and services.

The event started last year as a three-day festival focused on entrepreneurship and the region’s tech ecosystem. This year’s incarnation, featuring 15 events and a number of open houses, is not just a festival, but a movement, says organizer Chuck Russell, a senior partner at Collective Intelligence

One theme this year is children and youth.

"We're very excited to get the younger folks involved," explains Russell. "On Wednesday, October 1, we'll be holding the Fish Tank High School Pitch contest for high school seniors in Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties. And on Saturday, October 4, we'll be hosting the CoderKidz, a group of elementary ed and junior high students passionate about hacking, coding and learning how to build modifications to Minecraft, an online game."

Anyone is eligible to participate in Startup Weekend.

"We look for a combination of business[people], developer/engineers and creatives to come together to build companies," says Russell. "The ideas range from hardware gadgetry to software as service products. We don't focus on any particular vertical market solution."

Of 50 participants last year, one of three winners, Date My Apartment, is actively developing its product. 

"There are a number of takeaways from a Startup Week," adds Russell. "We educate, learn, network and build in seven crazy days. Founders find cofounders, startup teams find talent, products are built and connections are made."

Source: Chuck Russell, Harrisburg Startup Week
Writer: Elise Vider

No sweat! Philly's Fairwear keeps bike commuters cool and office-appropriate

Riffing off Benjamin Franklin, inventor, founding father, quintessential Philadelphian and all-around cool dude, Fairwear, a Philly startup, promises freedom to pursue an active lifestyle while staying comfortable. 

Founder Louis Pollack says the idea arose from the challenge of staying cool and presentable in everyday clothes while biking around Philadelphia, his adopted city.

Fairwear uses performance-based materials to create garments that are moisture wicking and highly breathable.

"Our apparel doesn't have a glossy lycra-like flair, nor does it have awkwardly placed pockets or technical trim," explains Pollack. "Fairwear is meant for a clean and comfortable transition from bike to boardroom to bar, in no particular order."

Fairwear’s line of men's button-down shirts is priced between $75 and $85. 

The company sources everything domestically from Philadelphia or New York, and manufactures at a factory in Northeast Philadelphia.

"When I started I knew I wanted to source everything locally," recalls Pollack. "My desire to keep production nearby is partially patriotic but also makes sense logistically. Local factories offer a much higher level of craftsmanship because you can maintain close input on the process. Sending your stuff overseas to be made is scary because you instantly lose control and are trusting someone you’ve never met before."

Fairwear is sold at a handful of Philly-area bike shops, craft and high-end flea markets like Philadelphia’s Franklin Flea and Phair, and at trade shows such as the upcoming Philadelphia Bike Expo

Pollack comes from a garment industry background and established the company earlier this year. As the company grows, he hopes to take Fairwear to larger national shows, and eventually open a brick-and-mortar location.

"We are always improving and tweaking details," he insists. "Stuff like material, fit and finish can always be made better. Our immediate reaction has been very positive. We want to continue supporting our early adopters, while sustainably growing Fairwear’s presence."

Source: Louis Pollack, Fairwear
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Calling State College Startups: Apply now for next TechCelerator Boot Camp

For the sixth time, the TechCelerator @ State College is inviting area entrepreneurs, graduate students and researchers to sweat it out at their upcoming 10-Week Boot Camp. The participanting tech-based startups will come away with a list of best practices, lessons learned and a valuable toolbox to help them start their businesses.

The program has already launched more than 20 companies and "past participants have already raised more than $2.45 million in startup funding and generated over $1.3 million in revenue," says Donald McCandless, director of business development for Ben Franklin's Transformation Business Services Network. "Anything we can do to help facilitate this kind of trajectory is great for everyone involved." 

The free 10-week program runs for two hours per week, on ten successive Tuesdays, September 30 through December 9. Participants can receive up to $1,000 toward legal and accounting startup costs and will have the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs at the completion of the course.  

The top presenter will receive $10,000 to help get their company off the ground. Business mentoring from the Transformation Business Services Network and Penn State’s Small Business Development Center staff will be available at no cost. 

The deadline for applications is Friday, September 19. Contact McCandless for more information. 

Source: Donald McCandless, Ben Franklin Transformation Services
Writer: Elise Vider

Health-tech startups on the fast track at second DreamIt Health Philadelphia boot camp

Nine startups are currently at work developing health-tech innovations at the second DreamIt Health Philadelphia boot camp. 

The start-up teams, recruited from around the country, started their 16-week incubator program last month. Each team receives $50,000 in seed capital, coaching from successful tech entrepreneurs and participates in an intense curriculum at the intersection of health care, business, technology and design on the campus of the University City Science Center. The capstone event of the program is Demo Day on October 30 -- each team will share its progress and plans for the future with an audience of investors, industry leaders, potential customers and the press. 

DreamIt Health Philadelphia is sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, Penn Medicine, DreamIt Ventures and Venturef0rth

The 2014 DreamIt Health class comprises:

BioBots of Philadelphia hopes to create low-cost 3-D printers supporting multiple biomaterials for creating biological structures without mutation risk.

Drop Diagnostics of Philadelphia is developing a method for rapid disease diagnosis through detection of signature proteins using carbon nanotubes and microfluidics.

FlexiSched of Philadelphia enables dynamic scheduling of patients, predicting no-shows and accounting for variable provider productivity and visit length.

NarrativeDx of Austin, Texas, employs big data analysis of patient feedback to improve the hospital customer experience and maximize Medicare reimbursement.

RegDesk of Bear, Del., is the leading marketplace for matching biotech and device companies with freelancing regulatory expertise around the world.

Ristcall of Pittsburgh is updating the call button, making it wearable so inpatients can communicate on-demand with nursing staff.

Tissue Analytics of Baltimore is promoting remote management of wound healing through image analysis of mobile-generated photos.

TowerView Health of Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco hopes to Improve patient adherence to complex, multi-drug regimens using novel "smart" pillboxes.

TrueClaim of Philadelphia and Jacksonville, Fla., aims to reduce instances of upcoding and fraud in health care claims submissions.

Dr. Elliot Menschik, DreamIt Venture’s managing partner for health care, describes the program as "an intense and transformative 16 weeks for these teams as we coach them through the most volatile period of a company’s life and as wire them into people, resources and opportunities that are significant shortcuts to success in the market."

Source: DreamIt Ventures 
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP/NEP invests in innovative roofing and digital companies

Protecting property -- both physical and digital -- is the work of two early-stage companies, the latest to receive investments from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Colymer Industries, located at Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, was approved for a $50,000 loan. The funds will enable them to implement a marketing and sales strategy to commercialize a new, proprietary, non-asphalt roofing and waterproofing material called Tarzanite. An improved coal tar formulation, Tarzanite is non water-soluble and environmentally beneficial. The material is expected to outlast traditional asphalt-based materials by a factor of four.

Allentown's SeKur Technology, Inc. was awarded a $10,000 loan. They plan to complete a sales and marketing strategy, launching a proprietary licensing, encryption and storage solution to secure all types of digital media, including PDF documents, e-books and audio/video files. The owner of the media can encrypt, track and control the distribution of any file -- on- or off-line -- preventing unauthorized transfer or download.

Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped create 16,214 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and retain 22,155 existing jobs, to start 458 new companies, and to develop 1,279 new products and processes. 

Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Two new Philadelphia government and academic initiatives support innovation agenda

Two new Philadelphia initiatives are underway, with related missions for supporting the city’s rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem, entrepreneurship and business development.

The City of Philadelphia's new Innovation Lab is a state-of-the-art 1,600-square-foot space modeled after the research-and-development and co-working facilities found in the private sector and academia. The lab, which overlooks City Hall, provides a central space and technology resources to host classes, meetings, workshops, hackathons and more; it will hopefully encourage collegiality, innovating thinking and creative problem solving in an atmosphere new to City government.

"The Innovation Lab serves as an important symbol to all stakeholders that we are truly in the innovation business," says City Managing Director Richard Negrin, whose office initiated and oversees the lab as part of a larger emphasis on innovation.

Meanwhile, a few miles away in West Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania has launched its Penn Center for Innovation, a new initiative to provide the infrastructure, leadership and resources needed to transfer promising Penn-developed research, inventions and technologies into the marketplace. 

"Most major universities have technology transfer practices that focus predominantly on patenting and licensing," says John Swartley, the new center’s executive director and Penn’s associate vice provost for research. "As we have become more involved in advancing technologies into the development sphere, we’ve also started to engage more and more in complementary activities such as new venture creation and corporate partnering around collaboratively sponsored research projects. What we’ve decided to do at Penn is to combine all those activities into a single organization -- to be a one-stop shop for our faculty, staff and students as well as members of the private sector."

Source: Philadelphia Office of the Managing Director and the University of Pennsylvania
Writer: Elise Vider

Scranton's Net Driven puts the pedal-to-the-metal, keeps growing

Growth continues to accelerate at Net Driven -- the company is now parked in new downtown headquarters at the Scranton Enterprise Center

Patrick Sandone founded the company, which offers digital marketing solutions to the automotive industry, with three employees in 2007. Since then, Net Driven has doubled in size every year; today it employs more than 60. The new 15,000-square-foot office is about three times the size of the company’s previous space and big enough to accommodate continued growth.

"We fully renovated the office space, which is now reflective of our technology-driven, Google-esque culture," explains Sandone.

The market for Net Driven’s proprietary website and Internet marketing platform is independent automotive businesses who need help competing with big-box retailers. 

"We now have clients in all 50 states, every Canadian province and a few foreign countries," says Sandone. "And this year, we’ve signed more clients each month than we sold in our entire first year combined." 

To keep up with the strong growth, Net Driven expects to hire at a rapid rate, creating as many as 50 jobs within the next year. The company is also continuing to develop products with a strong focus on service centers and new-and-used car dealerships, while releasing new software and software-upgrades on a monthly basis for its clients. 

"Keeping ahead of the technological curve helps our clients to remain competitive, which in turn keeps them utilizing the Net Driven platform to grow their business," he adds. "Our goal is to help independent automotive businesses thrive."

Net Driven's revenues have grown by 3,000 percent in the last five years; Sandone’s goal is to double revenue year-over-year. In acknowledgement of that growth, the company recently received a Governor’s Impact Award for Entrepreneurship

Source: Patrick Sandone, Net Driven
Writer: Elise Vider

Philly's Project Liberty hosts four digital media startups

Four digital media startups are learning how to turn words into money at Philadelphia's Project Liberty Digital Incubator

Interstate General Media (IGM), publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, hosts the program. It is operated by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Since its launch in January 2011, Project Liberty has graduated 10 companies that have gone on to raise over $9 million in financing.

The latest cohort features four innovative companies.

ROAR's mission is to reduce the incidence of assaults against women with fashionable safety accessories and a crime awareness mobile application. The company is engineering a safe alternative to traditional personal defense weapons that disorients an attacker, alerts family and friends, calls for help and cannot be used against the wearer. ROAR is also launching a mobile application tthat allows users to gain a better sense of their surroundings.

ProfessorWord helps students learn vocabulary as they read online by curating content from top-quality sites and pairing that content with tools to help students learn words in context as they read.

I’m Sorry to Hear is an online community and review site that provides funeral planning and educational tools to consumers researching funeral establishments and related products and services. Touted as "the TripAdvisor of funeral planning" for its efficiency in finding and comparing providers with a custom review platform, it is also a consumer advocacy tool.  

SETVI is a mobile sales enablement platform that creates a more efficient sales process, allowing organizations to close more deals and increase sales revenue. 

Over a six-month period, the companies will receive support including free office space, advising services and an opportunity to explore a business relationship with IGM, one of the largest media companies in the country. 

Source: Project Liberty
Writer: Elise Vider

Canadian and French startups come to Philly for first Digital Health Accelerator class

Two overseas companies are establishing a U.S. presence in Philadelphia as part of the first class at the University City Science Center's new Digital Health Accelerator (DHA).

Seven companies were chosen from a pool of 69 applicants to further develop their online, mobile and software solutions to healthcare problems. Each will receive up to $50,000, professional mentorship, and introductions to a variety of key healthcare stakeholders including insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and research institutions located in the Greater Philadelphia region, with the goal of getting their products into the hands of potential customers. 

During the 10-month program, companies will also become members of the newly launched Innovation Center @3401. The DHA is co-located with DreamIt Ventures

The inaugural DHA class includes the following startups:

Biomeme, a DreamIt Ventures 2013 graduate, uses their technology to transform a smartphone into a mobile lab for advanced DNA diagnostics and real-time disease surveillance, identifying targets by their specific molecular signatures.
 
Curbside Care is the "Uber for healthcare," coordinating on-demand house calls via mobile and web-based applications. Their platform bridges a market of fragmented supply and untapped demand by connecting off-shift MDs and NPs to patient users in real time.
 
Fitly, another 2013 DreamIt Ventures graduate, is a mobile app that helps busy people personalize healthy meals from delicious recipes in five minutes or less, and then delivers the fresh ingredients to their home for as little as $5.99/serving.
 
Keosys, based in France, is an established European leader in medical imaging software solutions, helping physicians efficiently deliver the most accurate diagnosis in radiology, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging practices.
 
Life Patch is a small, non-invasive, real-time temperature monitoring system that allows parents to track their child’s temperature from anywhere in the world using any smart device.
 
Pulse Infoframe, a Canadian firm, enables specialty physicians, administrators, pharmaceutical companies and researchers to collaborate to continuously improve quality and cost of patient care through a software platform called HealthIE and a powerful Realtime Clinical Business Intelligence toolset.
 
UE Lifesciences offers innovative, affordable and easy-to-use medical devices for breast cancer screening.
 
The DHA is supported in part by funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Discovered and Developed in PA (D2PA) program.

Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Elise Vider
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: PA Bio
Writer: Elise Vider
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