News Column

Ben Franklin Funds Technology Startups

March 27, 2013

Sam Kennedy

Ben Franklin Technology Partners has approved $315,000 in loans and grants for a eight startup companies and established manufacturers throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

Several of the recipients are based in the Lehigh Valley:

--Cerora Inc. of Bethlehem was awarded $50,000 to re-engineer software and hardware and to commercialize the Cerora brain wave sensor. The sensor is a medical-grade, portable electroencephalogram that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain. Rapid diagnosis of brain disease and injuries can lead to early and effective intervention with improved outcomes and cost savings for patients with concussions, Alzheimer's disease and other brain conditions.

--EggZack of Bethlehem, maker of marketing software intended for small- to medium-sized retailers, restaurants and other companies, received $48,000 to improve its sales process. The software requires a single entry to update a client's website and other marketing functions. This broadcasts the information immediately to 19 types of media, including social media such as blogs and email.

--Consolidated Storage Companies of Tatamy, a maker of storage systems and tool chests, received $25,000 to collaborate with Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center on a plant-wide production analysis. The goal is to optimize productivity and plan for growth while identifying the costs and benefits of various improvements.

--EchoTech Marine of Allentown received $23,000. It will work with the Enterprise Systems Center to complete the implementation of a new resource planning system that will accommodate expansion while maintaining quality. EcoTech's patented VorTech propeller pump is located outside of hobby reef aquariums, providing better heat control and flow.

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.