By Ryan E. Glenn, Director of Statewide Initiatives
Ben Franklin Technology Partners
Without a doubt, the last few years have proven the value of investing in innovation. Repeatedly we have seen how innovation and technology has impacted everything from health care to remote working across Pennsylvania.
Recognizing the vital role technology and innovation play in the commonwealth’s present and future economic growth, Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022-23 draft spending plan proposes at least $22 million for Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Under the governor’s propo-sed budget, each Ben Franklin would receive $5.5 million, totaling $22 million for the statewide initiative that supports early-stage technology firms and high-tech entrepreneurs. The proposed funding amounts to a $2 million increase over the current year for each of the four regionally based Ben Franklin centers, located in Pittsburgh, State College, Bethlehem, and Philadelphia, with additional satellite offices across the state.
In total, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA), which funds the statewide economic development initiative and provides competitive grants to support other high-tech ventures, would receive $32.5 million as part of the governor’s proposal, or $18 million more than the current fiscal year.
Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget not only recognizes the significant role Ben Franklin clients play in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, it also re-affirms the essential role technology and innovation must play in Pennsylvania’s identity.
Even amid the worst health-care crisis in generations, Ben Franklin continued its impressive history of delivering results for Pennsylvania. The 2022-2023 proposed budget builds on our transformative work to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that attracts and retains the brightest and most talented and promising individuals whose ideas power Pennsylvania’s economy.
Since its inception, Ben Franklin has invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies and boosted the state’s economy by more than $25 billion, helping to generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoff companies in Pennsylvania. As shared in our 2020 Annual Statewide Impact Report, Ben Franklin supported 1,697 companies and helped clients create more than 1,300 jobs while retaining more than 12,440 positions. Those investments paid huge dividends, with clients generating more than $1.8 billion in revenue and securing $894 million in post-Ben Franklin financing.
While Ben Franklin makes significant monetary investments in our clients, our strengths lie in our ability to surround our clients with internal and external experts in accounting and finance, marketing, intellectual property protection, supply chain management, and other disciplines. We developed and customized these offerings over the past three decades, and many clients cite these high-value support services as being key factors in their eventual success.
We concur with the governor; innovation represents Pennsylvania’s best path forward to support job creation and generate tax revenue. As Pennsylvania’s economy continues to rebound, sustained investment in innovation is a wise strategic decision and the key to remaining competitive with neighboring states. The resources proposed in this budget will help us back even more homegrown ventures and build on our work to specifically target and support underserved communities to foster entrepreneurship.
Moving forward, Ben Franklin is united in its mission to power economic growth and improve the human condition through innovation. We look forward to collaborating with the governor and legislators to ensure these investments create new and transformative opportunities in communities across the commonwealth, and to ensure Pennsylvania has the necessary resources to keep building an ecosystem that fosters high-tech development and drives entrepreneurial success.