Building on the launch last year of ImpactPHL, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP-SEPA) and its partners have announced a $15 million funding initiative to further support regional tech startups working to solve social, environmental and health problems.
“Ben Franklin has been an impact investor for more than two decades, investing in companies both for their financial return and their regional economic development impact,” says BFTP-SEPA’s Amanda Wagner. “When we say ‘impact investing’ now, we are adding a third win: impact in the form of environmental, health and wellness, educational or other social benefits.”
ImpactPHL Ventures is a capital resource for the increasing number of innovative, technology solutions we’re seeing from young entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference.RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, president & CEO
ImpactPHL Ventures is intended to “support the growth of impact-driven startups and grow the available capital in this space,” she adds. “This initiative creates efficiency for young companies seeking early-stage capital.”
RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, BFTP-SEPA’s president and CEO, agrees that the initiative will boost the business landscape.
“ImpactPHL Ventures is a capital resource for the increasing number of innovative, technology solutions we’re seeing from young entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference,” she says.
The vision for Impact PHL and now ImpactPHL Ventures comes from a 2016 report by BFTP and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. It identified impact investing as an economic opportunity for Southeastern Pennsylvania, while making a case for its moral imperative.
“There is a growing sense among entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropic and corporate leaders that the traditional ways of doing business aren’t the only ways of doing business,” it argued. “As we struggle to address intractable social and environmental challenges and people increasingly consider how well their spending and investments align with their values and with the values of a new generation, new business and investment models have arisen. What is emerging is what can be called the impact economy — a new ecosystem built on the notion that there is both economic and social impact to be found in the ways in which we address the challenges facing our communities and organizations.”
“We know that the future is full of opportunity for companies that tackle these problems,” adds Wagner. “The nonprofit and government sectors will not themselves solve these needs.”
Led by Ben Franklin, the initial ImpactPHL Ventures partners include Spring Point Partners, Investors’ Circle, Drexel University, Temple University, Safeguard Scientifics, Independence Health Group and the Bucks County Retirement Board.
“We have some wonderful early capital partners, but anticipate demand and opportunities that far exceed this capital,” says Wagner. “We hope that the leadership of these partners and our track record can draw other investors to this funding initiative, both to invest with us and certainly to be interested in follow-on funding for these ventures as they grow.”
ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.