Ben Franklin to Invest $342,547 In Regional Economic Development

Top Quote The Ben Franklin program was created by the state of Pennsylvania to play a leadership role in strengthening regional economies, building the state's technology economy, and creating and retaining high-wage, high-skilled jobs. End Quote
  • Philadelphia, PA-NJ (1888PressRelease) June 05, 2012 - The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $342,547 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP's goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage. To achieve this goal, Ben Franklin staff concentrate their efforts on three key areas:

    1. developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
    2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
    3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

    Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 15,479 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,459 existing jobs, to start 429 new companies, and to develop 1,127 new products and processes. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.50 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

    BFTP/NEP owns and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University's campus in Bethlehem at which it is headquartered. On May 8th, this facility won the National Business Incubation Association's prestigious Incubator of the Year Award, representing an outstanding repeat performance of its 2001 win of the same top award. BFTP/NEP also owns and manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

    Ben Franklin announces the following company investments from its Pennsylvania Challenge Grant funding.

    Early-Stage Firms

    ArioTech, Bethlehem, Northampton County
    Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
    Customize and deploy a new type of information-sharing platform for hospital-discharged chronically ill patients and their care providers, and pilot the technology in three major northeastern U.S. hospitals. Released patients will better able to adhere to their medication regimens, manage their symptoms, and learn more about their diseases. They will more efficiently communicate with their care providers about important physiological information including blood sugar, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and others. This will help hospitals lower costs and improve patient experiences and health outcomes.

    BioSample Solutions LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County
    Ben Franklin Investment: $70,000
    Complete development and begin commercialization of the BioCookie™, a proprietary sample preparation technique for application in DNA and RNA extraction technology. BioSample manufactures DNA and RNA extraction kits for laboratory tests on blood and saliva. These new tests will allow for the development of increasingly sophisticated drugs and more personalized medicine regimes. Sample preparation will be greatly simplified and accomplished at twice the speed of the current methodology.
    Established Manufacturers

    EcoTech Marine LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County
    University Partner: Lehigh University
    Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
    Improve supply chain processes through modifications to an existing Enterprise Resource Planning system, and plan for expansion into a larger space. EcoTech's patented VorTech propeller pump is located outside of hobby reef aquariums, providing better heat control and flow. EcoTech has enjoyed outstanding sales with the pump. Its new Radion LED lighting unit improves aquarium growth, coverage, and energy efficiency, and provides a customizable spectral output.

    Highwood USA, LLC, Tamaqua, Schuylkill County
    College Partner: Pennsylvania College of Technology
    Ben Franklin Investment: $14,547
    Improve heat resistance and impact strength of styrenic plastic, a material used in the production of synthetic wood. Highwood manufactures and markets a line of extruded synthetic wood products for fencing, decks and docks, outdoor furniture, spa cabinets, walkways, and railings. The synthetic wood products markets are growing, and these material improvements will allow the company to attract a greater market share.

    Vigon International, East Stroudsburg, Monroe County
    University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
    Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
    Automate the batch record management system and the work order information system at this manufacturer and supplier of high-quality flavor and fragrance ingredients. By improving these systems at Vigon, the company will be able to increase its market share and add new capabilities to its operation.

    Ben Franklin will invest in the following companies through its five-year grant from the Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP). Pennsylvania's AEDP was created in 2008 to incent collaboration to save energy costs, reduce dependence on foreign fuels, expand clean energy production, and create energy-related jobs in the state.

    Early-Stage Firm

    Sunstream Earth, Allentown, Lehigh County
    Ben Franklin Investment: $110,000
    Complete construction and testing of a prototype of a new type of solar-powered thermal generator for electricity production. This new technology will allow electricity to be produced on-site utilizing only ambient solar heat, without the need for connection to the power grid. The generator requires a much smaller footprint and is more efficient than conventional solar-generation technologies.

    Established Manufacturer

    Alpha Packaging, Bethlehem, Northampton County
    University Partner: Lehigh University
    Ben Franklin Investment: $48,000
    Implement practices and install equipment to reduce energy consumption by 20% at this manufacturer of plastic bottles and jars primarily for the nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal care, houseware, consumer chemical, and food and beverage markets. The plastic container industry is highly competitive both domestically and internationally, and controlling energy costs is essential to maintaining competitive advantage.

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