In the last six months, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $1,575,789 in support of regional economic development.

BFTP/NEP’s goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania into a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for a competitive advantage.

Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 14,922 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,358 existing jobs, to start 420 new companies, and to develop 1,017 new products and processes.

BFTP/NEP allocates a portion of its resources to project investments. Its Challenge Grant provided by Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority makes this possible. All clients were competitively selected as having the greatest potential for creating or retaining highly paid, sustainable jobs, introducing novel products or processes, and filling a promising market niche.

Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 14,922 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 21,358 existing jobs, to start 420 new companies, and to develop 1,017 new products and processes. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.50 to the state treasury for every dollar invested in the program.

BFTP/NEP invested in the following companies from its Challenge Grant funding:

A Sound Strategy, Inc., East Stroudsburg, Monroe County
Ben Franklin Investment: $35,000
Design a national product expansion plan and assist the company in developing a more comprehensive business strategy that will help raise additional capital. A Sound Strategy, Inc. is a software development company that provides solutions that manage business processes more efficiently. The company’s flagship product, siteMaster®, helps clients utilize web-based platforms to increase customers’ bottom lines and improve internal operations. These custom proprietary applications will be expanded in existing vertical markets.

Appalachian Apps, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $35,000
Complete a financial model and develop investor documentation, including a revised business plan and investor presentation materials. Appalachian Apps seeks to become the industry leader in Appertainment™. Appertainment is smart phone applications for the entertainment industry that feature a more robust platform and greater social media interconnectivity than the competition.

Bazzini Holdings, Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Lehigh University
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete an Enterprise Resource Planning implementation that supports the consolidation of Bazzini’s operations to a single facility in the Lehigh Valley. This producer of nuts, fruits, and confections will garner significant savings through the consolidation, which will allow it to compete more effectively and support the company’s anticipated growth.

BioSample Solutions LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $35,000
Complete development and begin commercializing the BioCookie™, a proprietary new 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 tests will allow for the development of increasingly sophisticated drugs and more personalized medicine regimens. Sample preparation will be greatly simplified and accomplished at twice the speed.

C.F. Martin & Company, Inc., Nazareth, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $7,483
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Complete development of computer models to predict the sound quality of prospective top plates on new guitar models for this producer of acoustic stringed instruments. The new products will provide the optimum sound radiation and tone that is sought by the target demographic. This will help maintain Martin’s brand versus current and future competitors.

Demco Automation, Quakertown, Bucks County
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $30,000
Select and implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning System for this developer and manufacturer of custom automation equipment and controls. Demco’s patented modular and reconfigurable automation platforms are used for assembling, testing, inspecting, and packaging small parts. The new system will enable Demco to double its sales by 2014.

EggZack, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $20,000
Refine a strategy for assembling a strategic partner network to help EggZack market and sell its software as a service (SaaS) solution to a much larger base of customers. The patent-pending SaaS platform requires only a single entry to update a client’s website and other marketing functions, broadcasting the information immediately to more than 20 types of media, including social media such as the company website and blog, email, local media, and publications. Such tools are needed by small- to medium-sized retailers, restaurants, and other companies to promote themselves more effectively and profitably, and to also offer as a value-add to the members and clients of organizations, franchises, and creative marketing agencies.

Element ID, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Support the increased sales and marketing effort and customer support for Element ID’s robust, proprietary, and affordable radio frequency identification (RFID) tag reader. These systems are used to help customers track assets and improve manufacturing accuracy and efficiency, to automatically manage clinical and environmental lab testing, and for fully automated, EPA-compliant chemical disposal. It is the first fully integrated hardware and software solution for RFID data capture. Systems have been deployed in North America, South America, and the Middle East.

LMC Software Solutions, Morgantown, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Assist LMC Software Solutions with operations and marketing support for its Enterprise Technical Support Center product as well as its Development Operations initiative for software development. This will provide the company with new customers and increased sales. LMC’s new software platform supports information technology staff as they address IT problems within their companies. 24/7 monitoring and log trails are built in, providing complete audit and compliance functions. This new software platform improves productivity and service availability at a reduced cost.

Makefield Therapeutics, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Implement process controls and scale up production for a proprietary topical drug that will treat soft skin tissue infections. The treatment is based on an innovative nanoparticle drug delivery platform, Hybrid Nanoparticle, for which Makefield holds an exclusive license from the Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York. There is consensus among scientists that drug resistance is a critical and growing problem in both community and hospital settings. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be severe, rapidly spreading, and life-threatening, and currently represent a significant burden to worldwide healthcare systems.

Micro Interventional Devices, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Develop a new, minimally invasive structural heart repair product called Permaseal™, and begin commercializing it. This early-stage company designs, develops and commercializes proprietary technologies targeting unmet needs in the treatment of structural heart disease. The Permaseal closure device is intended to close myocardial punctures, incisions, and otomies in structural heart repair procedures. This product will serve the large market of surgical patients who are
currently unable to undergo high-risk procedures, particularly for the increasingly popular Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation procedure (TAVI).

Pivitec, LLC, Coplay, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $70,000
Complete design and begin commercialization of five hardware products and one software control application for this developer of audio streaming and distribution products. Modern 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 perfomers’ movements, and have limited audio source reception. Pivitec uses wireless mobile devices and personal computers as interactive controllers for its network devices to address problems in live professional audio products.

PROVA Systems LLC, Carbondale, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Support the launch and commercial development of Fleet Genius™ Fleet Manager in a Box. PROVA manufactures a wireless OBD-2 diagnostic device and trip logger for use in passenger cars and light-duty trucks. This device allows proactive, real-time field management of vehicles using data derived from its usage patterns and collected from its on-board computers. The devices provide a unified set of data points for analysis from any vehicle, allowing for an efficiency comparison among a company’s entire fleet. The system can be used in fleet management applications and by dealers and outsourced fleet maintenance services. It also supports applications in usage-based insurance (UBI), drive-by emissions testing systems, and secure vehicle access control systems.

Strong Industries, Inc., Northumberland, Northumberland County
Ben Franklin Investment: $20,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Identify and implement operational improvement opportunities that developed during the company’s recent business transformation and accelerated growth. Strong Industries was originally a molder of various consumer goods, including a line of pet products. Since then, the company has grown significantly and has transformed itself to focus on the pool and spa market. The Lehigh team will generate specific recommendations to improve both the production operation and business processes.

SuccessTSM LLC, Tobyhanna, Monroe County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Successfully launch SuccessTSM’s proprietary new disaster recovery management software tool, called Maggie Bare Server Restore (MBSR), and establish procedures that will be used to implement a repeatable sales process. This software application supports Tivoli Storage Manager, IBM’s widely used enterprise-wide network storage management solution. The MBSR process requires only a 15-minute down time following an event or disaster, versus the current industry standard of at least four hours.

Ben Franklin invested in the following companies through its grant from the Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP).

Pennsylvania’s AEDP was created in July 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. Under the AEDP, BFTP/NEP receives funding to invest in the development and growth of energy-related companies in its 21-county area. There is a diversity of industrial activity related to energy throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, including several Ben Franklin clients in sectors such as advanced energy storage, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative/clean fuels.

Ateeco, Inc., doing business as Mrs. T’s, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County
Ben Franklin Investment: $41,174
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Develop a backup production system at this producer of frozen pierogies and other frozen food products that will provide continuity in production in the event of a production line failure. The company will also assess more efficient production methods to reduce energy consumption and save costs through sustainability initiatives.

Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $40,500
College Partner: Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center
Conduct an on-site assessment to analyze the company’s energy consumption and identify ways for the firm to lower energy usage, improve energy efficiencies, and minimize waste in order to reduce operating costs. Cambridge-Lee is a world leader in the manufacture of copper tubing.

Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $5,000
Complete investigation of possible methods for recovering waste heat from high temperature exhaust streams at this manufacturer of specialty cast-wrought and powder metallurgy alloys and titanium alloys. Provide technical support for engineering analysis of the proposed cycle turbine for power generation.

CEWA Technologies, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $250,000
Complete prototype testing and finalization of the commercial design of a new kind of point-concentrated solar power dish that will deliver energy at a lower cost due its novel shape and construction. The dish, called a toroid solar collector, is capable of providing thermal power for HVAC, power generation, desalination, and process heat applications at a cost comparable to fossil fuel-based sources of energy without government subsidy. Such cost competitiveness is novel in solar power dishes, and critical to the growth of this alternative energy source.

ClydeTec Systems, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Complete development of a proprietary broadband laser diode that will be the principal component for an optical coherence tomography system-on-a-chip. This device will be utilized for high-throughput 3-D biomedical imaging of body tissues and in other biophotonic and biomedical applications. The image can be obtained non-invasively, in real-time, and with significant energy consumption savings in comparison with conventional technology.

Consolidated Storage Companies, Inc., Tatamy, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $28,050
University Partner: Emerging Technologies Applications Center at Northampton Community College
Complete a plant-wide, investment-grade energy assessment at this manufacturer of storage and shelving systems, and tool chests in order to identify areas and methods to greatly reduce energy consumption. Energy costs are significant cost drivers in this highly price-sensitive industry. The company produces primarily for the industrial supply and military sectors.

Odyssey Management Group LLC, Northampton, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $30,000
Complete development of a new strategic business plan for Odyssey and utilize student interns for the testing of a new energy-efficient photo reactor that recycles wastewater. The technology utilizes algae to consume carbon dioxide generated by the wastewater, and converts it into biofuel. This also reduces the need for chemicals to treat the wastewater. Odyssey is developing a number of concepts for green and renewable energy production and has advanced some to the prototype stage and enjoyed early sales.

Future Power of PA, Inc., Moosic, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $74,000
University Partner: Wilkes University
Analyze geological formations near the Good Spring IGCC facility to determine if it is a viable location for carbon dioxide utilization when gasifying coal. The project will assess the availability of brine water to combine with carbon dioxide to produce key raw materials. The project will also analyze the transportation of carbon dioxide to identified utilization sites. The 270-megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plant being proposed for Good Spring, PA, has the ability to capture or repurpose its carbon dioxide by-product.

Harvel Plastics, Inc., Easton, Northampton County
University Partner: Lehigh University
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Complete a sustainability analysis at Harvel with the goal of reducing energy consumption by at least 15%. Harvel is an international leader in the field of thermoplastic extrusions, primarily manufacturing PVC and CPVC piping. Energy costs are one of the top drivers of manufacturing expenses in extruded plastic production. A cost savings in this area is significant.

K.C. Larson Industries, Inc., Williamsport, Lycoming County
University Partner: Bucknell University
Ben Franklin Investment: $21,582
Conduct translational research to determine the feasibility of manufacturing and marketing a new hybrid solar energy system that combines a solar photovoltaic panel and solar thermal heat transfer panel to generate both electricity and hot water. The company’s product provides retrofit capability, cost advantages, and energy efficiencies in generating both electricity and hot water. The system will serve the residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional markets.

Snake Creek Lasers, Hallstead, Susquehanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Commercialize a new opto-thermal laser resonator and advance current laser designs to improve output-power tunability and reproducibility over large ranges. Also, reduce power source requirements by 50 percent. Snake Creek Lasers is a premier supplier of miniaturized lasers and laser modules for defense and commercial applications. In addition to dramatically reducing the amount of energy needed to run Snake Creek’s Lasers, the new wavelengths and improved attributes identified will enable wavelength and performance improvements and cost reductions in scrap and labor time that allow for sustained company growth.

SolarPA, New Tripoli, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $58,000
Complete development of a process for applying a new, proprietary coating, NanoCoat, that enhances photovoltaic effects and improves the efficiency of solar cells. SolarPA’s single-layer anti-reflective coating improves optical absorption, thermal transport and emission, light concentration, manipulation, emissivity, reflectivity, and scattering, thereby maximizing the solar energy available for conversion into electricity. This results in increases in solar module efficiency up to 10% and reduced manufacturing costs by up to 10% as compared with current silicon-based technology. The reduced manufacturing costs translate to reduced prices to the consumer, thereby enabling broader market adoption of solar energy.

Ward Manufacturing, Blossburg, Tioga County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
University Partner: The Pennsylvania State University
Design and install a new type of core making machine at this producer of malleable and cast iron pipe and fittings. The machine will process low volatile organic compound (VOC) binders as those binders are optimized. The equipment will facilitate an immediate 29% reduction in the energy needed to make cores using conventional binders. Energy savings will grow to as much as 50% as the low-VOC binders are fully adapted for use by Ward.