News Column

Ben Franklin Awards Funding to Startups

October 4, 2012

Sam Kennedy

Ben Franklin Technology Partners has approved $260,000 in loans and grants for several startup companies and established manufacturers throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

Two of the recipients are based in the Lehigh Valley:

--ZeroTruck Corp. of Allentown has been awarded $120,000 to complete development of an electric drive integration system that converts gasoline and diesel trucks to zero-emission plug-in electric vehicles. The system can be installed in a new or existing truck chassis.

In February, a ZeroTruck vehicle caught fire at the company's facility at 905 Harrison St., presenting a conundrum for Allentown firefighters.

Firefighters let the truck's 24 lithium ion batteries smolder while ZeroTruck called for technicians to remove the batteries safely. After the truck was moved outside and the fire appeared extinguished, firefighters left the scene.

"That's 400 volts," fire Battalion Chief Scott Henrick said at the time. "We're not touching that."

--Electro Chemical & Manufacturing Co. in Emmaus qualified for a $5,000 matching grant to develop an adhesive primer to line corrosive fluid storage containers. The company will work with a team from Lehigh University's Materials Science Department on a primer suitable for a wide range of temperatures and pressures.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania is a state-funded program that provides assistance primarily to startups. It announces six to eight rounds of funding each year.

The organization, based at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, also provides operating funds for a network of business incubators that nurture fledgling companies by providing low-cost office and laboratory space and other assistance.

Source: (c)2012 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) Distributed by MCT Information Services