BETHLEHEM, PA--(Marketwired - July 12, 2016) - The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $303,055 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 16,986 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 23,761 existing jobs, to start 482 new companies, and to develop 1,433 new products and processes. BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.424 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.

4th Generation Resins, LLC, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $23,500
Conduct a market study and advance the development of proprietary specialty ion exchange resins used in the purification and production of pharmaceuticals, biotech products, and other special-application materials. 4GR is adapting proven production techniques to develop advanced manufacturing processes that produce highly consistent and more effective resins faster and more cost-effectively than current methods.

ChannelApe, (, Jessup, Lackawanna County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Launch marketing and sales efforts for a software platform for e-commerce store owners. ChannelApe offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud-based platform that helps e-commerce stores automate and integrate their redundant inventory, order, and fulfillment management tasks. The product connects associated channels across numerous platforms into a single point of access.

Howell Benefit Technologies, LLC, (, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Execute a targeted marketing plan and develop and deploy a training program to increase utilization among current and new customers for this provider of proprietary small group insurance software. The software is used by national group insurance carriers to allow agents to reduce the quoting, enrollment, and submission process from the current three- to five-week manual approach to one day. Providing real-time rates in this highly complex industry is a paradigm shift in the way group insurance is currently sold and administered.

MBD Medical, LLC, (, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Conduct a series of trials to provide clinical feedback from selected surgeons on the many benefits of using MBD's innovative plate and screw platform technology. MBD Medical designs, produces, and sells surgical products initially targeted for clavicle fractures, common injuries in which MBD's self-contouring plate allows for simpler, faster fixation. Repeated and successful use by surgeons involved in these trials will accelerate market acceptance of MBD's patented and FDA-cleared self-contouring fixation system.

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.

Behr Process Corporation, (, Allentown, Lehigh County
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $11,000
Develop a new manufacturing process at this producer of premium architectural coatings. The new procedure will improve product recovery and recycling efforts, which will enhance sustainability and substantially increase throughput. Increased productivity will help the local facility achieve budgeted compound growth in its network.

Belrick Corporation, (, Swoyersville, Luzerne County
College Partner: Northampton Community College's Emerging Technology Applications Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $8,555
Assess manufacturing operations at this producer of custom-machined parts to improve productivity and reduce costs. Analyze equipment utilization, inventory management, quality control measures, and logistics to provide a quantitative analysis of the operation that will improve production efficiency. This will allow Belrick to be more competitive in the price-sensitive subcontract machine industry both domestically and versus off-shore providers.

Lee's Oriental Gourmet Foods, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County
University Partner: Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center
Ben Franklin Investment: $10,000
Enhance production capacity and throughput at this USDA-approved producer of Asian frozen food specialties to meet growing sales. Identify and implement improvements needed to achieve full capacity, thereby letting Lee's attain current levels of production in one eight-hour shift without overtime. Greater production capacity combined with the potential to add a second shift will allow Lee's to continue to expand to meet demand.

Contact Information:

Laura S. Eppler
Director of Marketing
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania