Ben Franklin Northeast to Invest $486,250 in PA Companies

November 28, 2018

BETHLEHEM, Pa., Nov. 28, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania ’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $486,250 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP announces the following early-stage company investments that are provided in the form of loans with warrants.

HootBoard, https://www.hootboard.com/, Ben Franklin TechVentures, BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $100,000Complete efforts to support customer acquisition through inbound marketing and value-added reseller partner development. HootBoard provides interactive digital kiosks that deliver a concierge-like service to clients of hotels, airports, and other publicly visited spaces through its SaaS platform. The kiosks are significantly less expensive to deploy compared to custom kiosks and can be set up in minutes. Since they are cloud-based, guests receive news and other content in real time, and can “take” the content with them on their smartphones.

Rocket Cloud, Inc., www.RocketCl.com, Ben Franklin TechVentures, BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $100,000Continue to improve the technology platform and implement a new marketing and sales strategy for this software platform interface for the building materials supply industry. The company provides innovative cloud- and machine-learning-based software solutions to streamline the supply chain. It allows traditional wholesalers of equipment and supplies to supplement their physical locations with third-party ecommerce channels, such as Amazon, eBay, Jet.com, and Walmart. Easy on-line access through e-commerce sites will increase sales.

Universal Cross-Connection Control, http://universalccc.com/, Ben Franklin TechVentures,BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $50,000Complete software enhancements, and increase sales and customer support for this developer of a software-enabled, automated, cross-connection control administration for water utilities. Many of the 160,000 U.S. water providers face numerous physical infrastructure deficiencies due to antiquated systems or software, including cross-connection control and backflow prevention problems. Circumstances such as firefighting, water main breaks, and power failures can cause polluted or contaminated water to backflow into the drinking water supply, creating health and safety issues. This can cause expensive repairs and/or lead to “boil water” warnings being issued in communities. UCCC’s products allow water providers to protect the water supply and remain in compliance with regulations while remaining cost neutral to the water provider.

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.

B. Braun Medical, Inc., www.bbraunusa.com, Allentown Ben Franklin Investment: $23,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterComplete development of a decision support tool that addresses and analyzes alternatives to assist in optimizing B. Braun’s fluids products supply chain network. B. Braun manufactures and supplies disposable medical devices and provides medical services products worldwide.

Effort Foundry, Inc., www.effortfoundry.com, Bath Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterImplement improved production methods and product tracking capabilities at this supplier of high-integrity steel castings for the pump, power generation, and military industries. These technology upgrades will shorten lead times and reduce costs.

Freshpet, Inc., www.freshpet.com, BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $25,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterDevelop and implement a statistical process control system for controlling weight on two proprietary production lines, and evaluate and recommend an improved process for preparing ingredients prior to cooking. Freshpet manufactures all-natural and refrigerated food products for dogs and cats.

Heyco Metals, Inc. , www.heycometals.com, ReadingBen Franklin Investment: $18,750University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterAnalyze business processes and requirements, and then select a new Enterprise Resource Planning system. Heyco Metals is a precision mill that produces copper and copper alloy coil and stainless steel strip to exacting specifications, primarily for electronic connectors and consumer electronics.

PhytogenX, Inc., www.phytogenx.com, MorgantownBen Franklin Investment: $25,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterSelect and implement an Enterprise Resource Planning system at this contract manufacturer for the beauty and skincare industry. The system will support major company growth, including larger batch production levels and improved manufacturing efficiencies that greatly enhance throughput.

Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc., www.beautyblender.com, BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $25,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterContinue to implement improved operational processes at this manufacturer of the award-winning elliptical-shaped beautyblender® makeup applicator. Rea.deeming supplies high-quality products for the beauty, professional, and retail markets. This work will allow the company to expand its product line and leverage its enterprise resource planning system to optimize the supply chain and enhance its ability to meet increases in consumer demand.

SOLO Laboratories, Inc., www.sololabs.com, Kutztown Ben Franklin Investment: $19,500University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterIncrease capacity in the current facility and implement process improvements and quality measures to improve and grow this manufacturer of custom prescription orthotics and foot and ankle braces.

Vastex International, Inc., www.vastex.com, BethlehemBen Franklin Investment: $25,000University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems CenterSelect a new Enterprise Resource Planning system for this manufacturer of precision screen printing machinery, primarily for the apparel industry. The system will improve the company’s top line growth by enhancing customer service and growing its customer base.

BFTP also invested a total of $50,000 in business incubators comprising the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network ( https://nep.benfranklin.org/ben-franklin-business-incubator/ ). With 35 years owning and managing its own incubator, BFTP/NEP was one of the pioneers of business incubation in the nation. The 13-member Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network is among the largest in the world. It brings together incubator managers to exchange ideas and information, work collaboratively, and share guidelines that are in accordance with International Business Innovation Association standards. Through this network, BFTP/NEP leverages its incubator expertise throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PennsylvaniaThe Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by investing in and linking companies with experts, universities, follow-on funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. It is part of a four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

BFTP/NEP’s strategy encompasses three key areas:

1. developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies; 2. supporting established manufacturers as they creatively apply new technology to help them succeed globally by producing better, cheaper, and faster; 3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that supports Pennsylvania’s business technology ecosystem.

Since beginning operations in 1983, 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.

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. BFTP/NEP also owns and manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg. Applying more than 30 years of experience and two international awards for excellence in business incubation, BFTP/NEP leads a 13-member business incubator network that is among the largest in the nation.

Contact: Laura S. EpplerChief Marketing OfficerBen Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania610-758-5237 leppler@nep.benfranklin.org

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