News Column

Ben Franklin Funds Technology Startups

Jan 11, 2013

Sam Kennedy

Technology Startups

Ben Franklin Technology Partners has approved $355,000 in loans and grants for a half dozen startup companies and established manufacturers throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

Five of the recipients are based in the Lehigh Valley:

--Bio-Energy Holdings of Center Valley was awarded a $50,000 loan to commercialize its A-Ceptor unit. A Ceptor separates oils and grease from "gray" restaurant sink effluent before it goes into underground traps or wastewater treatment systems. The end-product from the A-Ceptor can be recycled for bio-diesel energy production.

--HB Custom Media of Bangor received a $75,000 loan. The company makes tissue culture media, reagents, cell culture supplements and mouse embryo culture media -- products used by life sciences companies in various applications, including drug development, cancer research, nerve cell regeneration investigation and treatments for heart attacks.

--Virtual Celebration of Bethlehem received a $65,000 loan. The company is developing a computer platform that allows hosts and guests to connect, play and share online. With the Ben Franklin investment, it plans to recruit and train 1,000 event planners.

--Bosch Rexroth Corp. of Bethlehem was awarded a grant of $25,000 to complete a manufacturing process analysis of its hydraulic cylinder manufacturing system. Following analysis of current work processes, simulations will be used to test alternative system configurations and scheduling methods.

--Demco Automation of Quakertown received $19,900 to implement an enterprise resource planning system. The resulting improvements are expected to help Demco, a manufacturer of custom automation equipment and controls, to increase sales 70 percent by 2014, according to Ben Franklin. Demco's platforms are used for assembling and packaging small parts, serving the medical device, pharmaceutical and other markets worldwide.

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)2013 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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