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  • Writer's pictureR. Chadwick Paul, Jr.

The Faces of Ben Franklin: Re-Thinking What is Possible in Northeast Pa.

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

By R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and CEO 

For more than 18 years, I have had the privilege of leading the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Along the way, we have mentored and supported a variety of companies in many different technology and manufacturing sectors. Several of these companies have gone on to significantly impact their respective industries and address crucial societal problems, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The diversity of Ben Franklin’s clients is among our greatest strengths. A study by McKinsey and Company showed that businesses with diverse workforces outperform those that are not as diverse. Our client founders come from varying backgrounds, with their own unique perspectives and journeys. These differences help them to identify innovative new solutions and opportunities; to create and retain highly paid, sustainable Pennsylvania jobs; and to improve our business/technology ecosystem.

Following are just three of the many Ben Franklin client contributors to Pennsylvania’s technology economy. Together, they improve our quality of life and help comprise the faces of Ben Franklin:

Ophidion Founder Julie Miwa, PhD

Ophidion, Bethlehem, founded by Julie Miwa, PhD and led by CEO Yacoub Habib, PhD, developed a new technology that enables the delivery of therapeutics, including large molecules, to the brain following systemic administration.

The company is leveraging its proprietary blood-brain barrier transport technology to advance a systemically delivered gene-silencing siRNA product for the treatment of Huntington’s disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no current cure. The technology may also be applicable to the delivery of other important therapeutic modalitiesto the brain to treat various neurodegenerative diseases and brain cancer. 

studio BE Mindfulness, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, founded by Jennifer Ciarimboli, leverages a web interface to teach scientifically-proven mindfulness techniques designed to empower employees and individuals by increasing their productivity, reducing stress, improving interpersonal communication, and strengthening resilience. These practices are essential for cultivating personal and professional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. studio BE serves corporations, nonprofits, and individuals by utilizing an innovative custom e-learning platform offering live and on-demand classes in yoga, meditation, professional development, mindful living, dance, horticulture, and a variety of other topics, all grounded in mindfulness.

US Specialty Formulations, LLC., founded by Kyle Flanigan, PhD, is a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) manufacturer of sterile injectable pharmaceuticals used by healthcare providers or in new drug or vaccine clinical trials. Millions of Americans require specialized and custom-manufactured drugs. These specially prepared drugs are U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications and are marketed globally. USSF teamed with another Ben Franklin founder, Garry Morefield, PhD, VaxForm LLC, and recently announced positive pre-clinical results in its joint development program to bring oral COVID-19 and other vaccines to market in 2021.

R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President & CEO, BFTP/NEPA

Across Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin clients are changing the way we look at the world and inspiring us to re-think what is possible. Our clients serve as the faces of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and, because of their successes, Pennsylvania has emerged as the gold standard by which technology-based economic development is measured. Now, more than ever, we must continue to support emerging technology companies and provide them with the funding, resources, and support they need to thrive and continue growing the Commonwealth’s economy.


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