Ben Franklin Tech Partners to Invest $407K in PA Companies


BETHLEHEM, Pa., Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $407,130 in support of regional economic development. Nine companies in BFTP/NEP’s 21-county service area received funding. BFTP/NEP announces the following early-stage company investments, which are provided in the form of loans with warrants.

Hanish Water, Inc.,, Hazleton, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Develop Hanish’s Watercrest water filtration system by supporting drawings, prototypes, testing, and patenting proprietary materials and approaches. Using NASA-derived technology, the WaterCrest whole-house physical water treatment systems provide comprehensive water filtration using no salt, no electricity, no moving parts, requiring no back-washing, and wasting no water. There is a growing global market for effective and efficient water treatment due to industrialization and population growth.

IntelliGreen,, West Hazleton, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Expand sales and marketing efforts for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform to work in tandem with IntelliGreen’s products, which were developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Intelli-Temp devices can detect and identify a person’s face, including for an individual wearing a mask; direct a person to put on a mask as a requirement to entry; detect a reference temperature within 0.5 degrees accuracy; and provide alerting for fever conditions; all within one second. The Intelli-Temp MAX features a 22’’ screen that enables a display of user-generated content. The investment will allow IntelliGreen to leverage its relationships with four distribution partners and launch the SaaS product and gate-monitoring solution.

NexUS 1, LLC,, Hazleton, Luzerne County
Ben Franklin Investment: $100,000
Support marketing and human resource development to leverage state-of-the-art Green building technology and patented materials in the construction of new buildings and retrofit industries. Nexii’s whole-building solution utilizes a patented material, Nexiite, and the proprietary Nexii design and assembly process, which together enable the construction of sustainable, costefficient, durable, and disaster-resilient buildings. Nexii materials can be used for buildings of all heights and sizes, and are suitable for commercial/institutional/industrial, mixed-use, multi-family residential, and single-family detached homes, as well as for retrofitting existing buildings. The NexUS facility will be the first Nexii-certified manufacturer of the system in the U.S., serving the northeast and mid-Atlantic states, and will employ 176 Pennsylvanians.

Raven Biomaterials, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $50,000
Develop and test initial samples of a fundamentally new type of magnetic beads with significantly higher magnetic capability. Raven’s proprietary beads will change the way manufacturers of cellular therapeutics isolate targeted cells within complex mixtures such as blood. The company’s initial target application is to improve cell-based therapeutic manufacturing to enhance performance, reduce costs, and accelerate patient access to emerging treatments such as cell and gene therapy.

Ben Franklin provides 1:1 matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based innovation in established manufacturers.

Brenntag Northeast, Inc.,, Reading, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Improve warehouse and operating efficiencies at the Reading plant. Brenntag Northeast is a chemical distributor that provides custom-made distribution solutions for industrial and specialty chemicals. The company delivers specific application technology, extensive technical support, and value-added services including just-in-time delivery, product mixing, formulation, repackaging, inventory management, and drum return handling. With more than 10,000 products and a comprehensive supplier network, Brenntag serves 195,000 customers globally.

Oldcastle APG Anchor Central,, Easton, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Improve order fulfillment processes, optimize throughput, and enhance facility layout to increase competitiveness at this manufacturer of precast pavers, bricks, and concrete. Oldcastle’s products are used in a broad range of commercial and residential applications.

To help companies accelerate the recovery from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) provided a $1 million disbursement in May that was matched by Ben Franklin. BFTP/NEP’s Return to Health funding program has included emergency regional investments in 19 start-ups and 19 established manufacturers. The three investments below will complete Ben Franklin’s Return to Health funding.

Rebuilding Northeastern PA Manufacturers Investments allow BFTP/NEP’s recent established manufacturer clients with 250 or fewer employees to develop and implement plans for recovery. Many of these manufacturing firms were partway through the development of innovative production and process enhancements, and failing to complete them would hinder their recovery and growth. These clients will facilitate job retention and creation.

Ben Franklin announces the following Rebuilding Northeastern Pennsylvania Manufacturers Investments in two companies, which are provided as matching funding.

B. Braun Medical, Inc.,, Allentown, Lehigh County
Ben Franklin Investment: $25,000
University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center
Analyze, test, and develop intravenous (IV) tubing materials and manufacturing processes that will provide a consistent product with the desired properties for longer IV tubing. Additional length is required to separate patients with infectious diseases including COVID-19 from caregivers who monitor the IV pumps and fluids.

Reitnouer, Inc.,, Birdsboro, Berks County
Ben Franklin Investment: $15,000
Adjust operations to improve production flow and operational efficiencies following decreased sales due to COVID-19. Reitnouer is a leading manufacturer of aluminum flatbed and drop deck trailers. The company utilizes an innovative approach in building the structures that improves product strength and durability. Prior to the pandemic, sales were growing, but the transportation industry has been strongly affected. The investment will improve the company’s productivity and position it for recovery and growth.

Also part of BFTP/NEP’s Return to Health Funding, Next-Generation Pandemic Defense Investments support new Ben Franklin clients that are creating tools and techniques that could help us recover from COVID-19 and/or protect us from future infectious disease outbreaks. BFTP/NEP invested in one early-stage firm with a three-year, 0% interest loan.

ParoAI Inc.,, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Ben Franklin Investment: $37,130
Continue to build Paro’s existing conversational artificial intelligence (AI) healthcare platform by developing Paro Rapport, which will provide healthcare providers, patients, healthcare manufacturers, and health networks a simple-to-use method for asynchronous communication via voice technology. This will address an unmet communication system need that can be leveraged during the COVID-19 pandemic and in future public health crises that limit in-person interactions.

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by investing in and linking companies with experts, universities, follow-on funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. It is part of a four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

BFTP/NEP’s strategy encompasses three key areas:

  1. developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies;
  2. supporting established manufacturers as they creatively apply new technology to help them succeed globally by producing better, faster, and at a lower cost;
  3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that supports Pennsylvania’s business technology ecosystem.

Since beginning operations in 1983, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 19,257 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 43,880 existing jobs, to start 525 new companies, and to develop 2,113 new products and processes. Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated more than $1.6 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.90 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program.

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. BFTP/NEP also owns and manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center. Applying more than 35 years of experience and two international awards for excellence in business incubation, BFTP/NEP leads a 13-member business incubator network that is among the largest in the nation.

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