By Stephen Brawley, President and CEO
Central and Northern Pennsylvania is well-known for its scenic beauty and affordable cost of living. However, you may not be aware that the region also serves as a destination for some of the most innovative entrepreneurial minds in the world.
The region is not only home to Ben Franklin CNP’s central office, located near University Park in State College, it is also home to Penn State’s Incubator program. Supported in a variety of ways by the Ben Franklin program, there are nearly two dozen tech startups located on the second floor of the building in Innovation Park, many of which have either participated in Ben Franklin’s 10-Week Business Startup Boot Camps or have received an investment from the funding program.
Ben Franklin CNP oversees a portfolio of roughly 150 early stage investments in tech startups, as well as small manufacturers in Pennsylvania. The entrepreneurs and companies who make up this investment portfolio are as unique as the geography found in the program’s 32 county footprint. These companies include women-run businesses, CEOs from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and innovators who have come to Pennsylvania from other countries to pursue their educational and entrepreneurial dreams.
Some of the amazing clients we have come to know include:
Xact Metal, under the leadership of Juan Mario Gomez, is a State College based company that is taking the essential specs for metal powder-bed fusion 3D printing and combining them with breakthrough technology to establish a new level of price and performance for additive manufacturing. Every day they challenge the widely-held perception that additive manufacturing is only for capital-rich companies.
SpotLESS Materials and Birgitt Boschitsch have developed a liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS) coating that can be applied to glass, some metals and ceramic to enable them to more efficiently repel water and dirt – subsequently making them easier to clean. SpotLESS addresses the inherent challenges associated with repelling “sludge” by using less water and conserving the resource for other uses. The LESS coating can be applied to most surfaces to more efficiently keep them clean and unblemished, and the coating’s sanitation applications are generating widespread interest because of its potential benefit to humankind.
Impulse Technology, co-founded and led by Dr. Kamrun Nahar, specializes in the design, modeling and fabrication of mechanical systems. The company conducts research and development of innovative products in high impact mechanical and energy applications as part of its mission to improve the quality of life experienced by amputees by enhancing their mobility.
Aleo BME, co-founded and led by Chao Liu, is a biotechnology research and development company currently commercializing revolutionizing technologies in wound healing, surgical glue and sealant, medical coating and cosmetic applications. Founded by a team of passionate scientists from Pennsylvania State University, entrepreneurs and professional investors, the company aims to adapt innovative and transformative biomaterials into various applications to address the unmet challenges in biological, medical and environmental applications.
Ben Franklin’s portfolio of clients is a clear example of why Pennsylvania is viewed as the gold standard by which technology-based economic development is measured. Innovation hubs like those found in State College showcase just how attractive Pennsylvania is for the best and brightest minds in technology, manufacturing and other industries that directly contribute to the quality of life we all enjoy.
By creating an ecosystem that provides entrepreneurs with the essential support they need to succeed and grow, Ben Franklin has developed an approach that has served as the blueprint of innovation-based economic development across the world. In turn, this has made Pennsylvania a sought-after international destination for entrepreneurs and businesses that are poised to lead the state’s economy. We must continue to work together to ensure that the competitive advantage we’ve worked tirelessly to build continues to drive economic growth and provides ample opportunities for present and future generations of native Pennsylvanians and those who adopt the commonwealth as their home.