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Ben Franklin to Invest $695,000 in Regional Companies Including Berks Manufacturer

May 18, 2018 • by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA
Ben Franklin Technology Partners

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $695,000 NEW 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 18,056 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 31,840 existing jobs, to start 511 new companies, and to develop 1,733 new products and processes. Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.5 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.60 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, manages, and is headquartered in Ben Franklin TechVentures®, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem, PA. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.

Ben Franklin announces the following early stage company investments that are provided in the form of loans with warrants.

Firecracker Health,, Ben Franklin TechVentures,

Bethlehem, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000

Support development of consumer-facing software that manages virtual care for this digital health company. Firecracker Health’s Fuse is a scalable Software-as-a-Service Virtual Care Activation Platform that allows organizations to integrate multiple virtual programs on a single enterprise platform. Fuse links the healthcare team with the home team — the individual’s network of family and friends – in real time, resulting in greater patient and physician satisfaction, improved quality of care, and lower costs. The product seamlessly combines all elements, creating a comprehensive, Virtual Healthcare System that front-line healthcare providers and facilitators utilize to welcome patients through a new, virtual front door.

Mystic Mountaintop Productions, LLC,, Kunkletown, Monroe County

Ben Franklin Investment: $65,000

Complete the development and fabrication of a market-ready, proprietary, “smart” LED lighting system for the middle- to low-end entertainment industry. The system will include a hybrid analog/digital computerized lighting console, local and wireless remote control via a smart phone or tablet, a lighting power and control distribution unit, and installation hardware. Primary clients will be small venues, such as auditoriums, churches, and nightclubs, which want a lighting system that is affordable but offers the quality of systems designed for larger facilities.

Ophidion, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000

Support a definitive pre-clinical study to optimize delivery of central nervous system therapeutics to targeted sites in the brain. Ophidion is leveraging its proprietary blood-brain barrier transport technology to advance a systemically delivered gene-silencing siRNA product for the treatment of Huntington’s disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no current cure.

Play Impossible,, Lewisburg, Union County

Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000

Support the launch of version 2.0 of the Play Impossible Gameball™ and develop additional sources of revenue with the creation of subscription-based games. Gameball is a smart, inflatable ball that links real-time via Bluetooth to an accompanying smartphone app. It is designed to keep five- to 15-year-old boys and girls challenged, entertained, and moving with active play. The ball contains sophisticated electronics, an accelerator, barometer, microcontroller, and ultra-capacitor, and uses a battery-powered, hand-held charger. 

Snowvation, Inc.,, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000

Expand resources and staffing for this producer of an activity booking and management platform for the mountain destination industry. The investment will allow the company to scale to more than 50 resorts globally, launch a summer platform, and grow into the southern hemisphere and Europe. Snowvation’s platform manages all aspects of mountain destination operations, including scheduling, e-commerce, reservations, inventory management, and more, to allow resorts to better engage with their guests.

Sustainable Energy Management Systems,, Scranton, Lackawanna County

Ben Franklin Investment: $80,000

Enhance marketing and sales efforts, protect intellectual property, and develop and create manufacturing tools and dies that will support scalable manufacturing for this producer of a proprietary solar tracking device. Sustainable Energy’s patented Reflective Solar Tracker enhances the performance of solar panels by tracking the sun’s position and utilizing reflectors to capture more sunlight, increasing solar energy production by 40-50%.

Zukay Live Foods, LLC,, Elverson, Berks County

Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000

Continue commercialization efforts for the Jacob’s Raw product line at this manufacturer of raw, fermented, vegan, and probiotic condiments and tonics. The work will support enhancing distribution channels, slotting new products into additional grocery chains, and opening new brokerage warehouses. It will also support participation at trade shows. Natural, fermented foods are increasingly becoming mainstream in conventional shopping channels.

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

Blaschak Coal Corporation,, Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center

Develop a process to efficiently extract Rare Earth Elements (REE) from anthracite mine water sources at this producer of anthracite coal. REEs have a wide variety of applications in electronic, optical, and magnetic devices. Currently, China produces nearly all REEs and there is great demand for domestic suppliers.

Material Solution Services,, Northampton, Northampton County

Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000

University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center

Complete the formulation of new composite materials that can be used for general fill in land development, construction material, and mine reclamation. The composites will recycle various waste products in conjunction with a binding agent to reclaim abandoned sites for safe and productive reuse.

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