BFTP/SEP Approves $1.375M for Seven Early-Stage Companies

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) recently approved $1,375,000 in funding for seven early-stage companies.

“We’re excited that this round of investments is comprised of such a diverse group of companies — with target consumers ranging from energy efficient manufacturers to diabetic patients to television viewers,” said RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President & CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Southeastern Pennsylvania is becoming a leader in developing technologies that affect just about every facet of our lives,” she added.

Companies approved for funding include:

ARB Geowell — West Conshohocken — Montgomery County — Approved Investment: $125,000

ARB Geowell has developed a novel geothermal heating/cooling platform that permits better heat transfer in the underground well. Using a unique design that provides more surface area and better contact with the earth, ARB Geowell’s system offers higher energy efficiency. In most cases, the increased efficiency allows the project to eliminate the need to drill multiple holes on site, and thus markedly lower the cost of construction.

Its target market ranges from residential homes to commercial buildings, schools and developments.

The company is led by Harry R. Halloran, Jr., President; Kathryn Coffey, COO; and Albert A. Koenig, Ph.D., Vice President.

Brad’s Raw Chips, LLC — Pipersville — Bucks County — Approved Investment: $100,000

Brad’s Raw Chips, manufactured with an advanced dehydration system, was launched when its founder and creator, Brad Gruno, made significant changes in his life and discovered the health benefits of eating raw. In order to still be able to enjoy crunchy snacks, he began making his own raw chips in his kitchen.

The snacks he developed are now the basis of the company’s line of healthy, crunchy snacks made from dehydrated raw, healthy foods—such as fresh vegetables, nuts, and seeds. All of the company’s products contain no chemicals, preservatives, trans-fats, or gluten.

The company’s products are sourced from local farms whenever possible, and are considered “raw’ because they are not baked or fried, but rather are dehydrated to preserve all the nutrients and enzymes. It is currently developing other raw food products including dips, granola, pizza crust, and crackers.

Brad’s Raw Chips is led by CEO & Founder Brad Gruno, and COO Walter Gruger.

Drakontas, LLC — Glenside — Montgomery County — Approved Investment: $250,000

Drakontas has created mobile collaboration software that helps teams share information while working together, via smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. to enable real-time exchange of critical data.

Their solutions primarily serve government factions, such as police, military, fire, emergency response, and public service teams; helping them to improve operations and efficiency, make decisions more quickly, and enhance their own and the public’s safety.

Drakontas’ flagship product, DragonForce™, combines geo-tracking (which allows for tracking of personnel on maps and floor plans), a whiteboard for coordinating tactics, shared media and files of critical information, and text messaging; to allow law enforcement teams to act faster, safer, and more efficiently.

The company is led by Dr. Brian Regli, CEO; James J. Sim, President & COO; Dr. Alan Kaplan, CTO; and Joseph Madgey, CAO.

Kerathin, LLC — Chester — Delaware County — Approved Investment: $200,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $150,000)

Kerathin is a medical and home health device company focused on tools for the care of foot disorders, particularly in the diabetic population. Kerathin’s initial product, PodiaPro, is a major improvement for toenail disorders. PodiaPro is safer and easier to use than current nail debridement systems. PodiaPro is in clinical validation at leading centers associated with podiatric medical schools.

Kerathin is led by Founder and Executive Chairman Tom Fitzsimons. Serving on the company’s Board are Lucinda Duncalfe Holt, Paul Haslanger, and Ellen Toplin.

OneTwoSee (previously Mobile Reactor, LLC) — Devon — Chester County — Approved Investment: $150,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $150,000)

The OneTwoSee™ platform is a state-of-the-art suite of technologies that support TV programming, including sports, reality, news, scripted and event-based broadcasts.

The business-to-business platform is targeted to television broadcasters and producers. It allows them to deliver a rich interactive television experience to their viewing audience via their connected devices, enhancing what viewers are watching on TV by simultaneously making the experience interactive through their connected devices.

Currently, up to 85% of television viewers are engaged with a connected device as they watch television; so OneTwoSee™ allows broadcasters to keep this distracted audience engaged.

OneTwoSee’s platform is currently being used by four Comcast SportsNet stations, including the one in Philadelphia.

The company is led by Chris Reynolds, CEO; Jason Angelides, COO; and Stu Farber, CTO.

S4 Worldwide LLC — Doylestown — Bucks County — Approved Investment: $250,000

Targeted toward drilling companies in Pennsylvania who have started production in the Marcellus Shale, S4W Worldwide offers a variety of effective integrated solutions to help drillers protect against intrusions, theft and vandalism; document safety and security efforts; and support environmental and regulatory compliance mandates.

Every S4W SENTRY is uniquely configurable, with systems deployed for specific client-defined remote site missions. The SENTRY systems are self-sustained, relying on solar power to extend service life for months or years. Customers can receive updates using satellite, cellular, Wi-Fi, and even terrestrial radio or microwaves; and information is delivered to their computer, tablet or smartphone through a secured data center.

S4W is led by Gary Uphouse, CEO; Paul Soult, President; and Gil Zimmerman, COO.

Tangent Energy Solutions — Kennett Square — Chester County — Approved Investment: $300,000

Tangent Energy Solutions saves commercial and industrial (C&I) companies 10% to 20% in energy costs by optimizing the energy grid behind the customer’s meter. The company combines efficiency technologies with clean generation assets (such as solar panels or geothermal energy) to intelligently balance supply and demand, resulting in lower energy prices for customers.

Energy costs are often large and difficult-to-control expenditures for C&I companies. As a mission critical resource, energy is directly linked to all aspects of operational success — including productivity, safety, compliance and comfort. For these reasons, Tangent helps them cut costs in ways beyond merely curtailing usage.

Tangent was founded in 2009 by a management team that has been providing commercially successful energy innovations to mainstream C&I customers for 30 years. The company is led by Dean Musser, CEO; Charles Costenbader, Executive Vice President; Mark Schaefer, CFO; and David Turner, COO.

Dow Grows Northeast Technology Presence in Suburban Philadelphia

The Dow Chemical Company will position the nation’s largest specialty chemical and advanced materials company for future growth by locating its North East USA Technology Center in Collegeville, Pa.

Dow scientists will begin operations next year in a state-of-the-art research and development facility owned by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. Employees at Dow’s Spring House, Pa. campus will begin moving to the new site as early as the first quarter of 2013. It is estimated that more than 800 jobs will remain in the county as both Spring House and Collegeville are cities within Montgomery County.

“This premier new location provides Dow’s world-class researchers with a new collaborative and innovation centric space, enhanced capabilities and best in class tools to create differentiation for our customers,” said Andrew N. Liveris, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Establishing operations in Collegeville will allow us to remain competitive in a global market and continue as a major employer in Montgomery County, and Pennsylvania.”

With over 750,000 square feet of laboratory and office space, the facility will also have room to accommodate potential job growth in the future. After conducting a comprehensive feasibility study, Dow determined this opportunity as the best option to reach research objectives.

“This strategy bolsters our company’s long-standing commitment to Pennsylvania by putting our R&D operations on a long-term path forward,” said Jerome Peribere, executive vice president of The Dow Chemical Company and president and chief executive officer, Dow Advanced Materials headquartered in Philadelphia. “We are proud residents of the Delaware Valley region and look forward to continuing the tradition of innovation that our company began here more than 40 years ago.”

Dow’s Spring House location, acquired via the Company’s Rohm and Haas acquisition in 2009, has been a center for strategic research & development since 1963. From this site, the company’s scientists have invented products ranging from acrylic technology for high-quality latex paints to water purification products and polymers used in laundry detergents, shampoo, lotion, and conditioners.

Westin Breaks Ground on $37M Hotel at Riverfront Wilmington

The much anticipated Westin hotel at the Wilmington Riverfront will evolve from paper plans to an active construction site when Westin executives, officials from the Riverfront Development Corporation, developers and state and local officials broke ground on the $37 million facility on July 16th.

Connected to the 87,000-square-foot Chase Center on the Riverfront, the 10-story LEED certified hotel — Wilmington’s first full-service property in nearly 20 years — will feature 180 rooms, a pool, a full-service restaurant and bar, meeting space, a fitness center and even a law center, among many other amenities.

When completed, the Westin Wilmington will employ 123 people. It is projected to generate $3.9 million in state and city tax revenues in its first three years.

Purzycki said the city stands to immediately benefit from the hotel’s opening in early 2014. “It will be great to finally welcome the large numbers of meetings and conventions that have previously expressed interest in our town but failed to materialize due to the limited number of rooms available within reach of the Chase Center,” he said.

Construction of the Westin Wilmington project is being privately funded. The RDC board approved the $3 million sale of a .75-acre parcel of land to (BPG) for the hotel and a $3 million loan guarantee to the organization backed by a mortgage on the Chase Center. The City of Wilmington also provided a $1 million loan guarantee for the project. The hotel will be managed by Pollin Miller Hospitality Strategies, a BPG affiliate.

“We believe that the Westin Wilmington represents a culmination of the decades-long Wilmington Riverfront redevelopment effort,” said Dave Pollin. “We have a terrific property planned that will support area businesses, welcome visitors to Wilmington and, we think, help draw more and more people to this dynamic city. We appreciate the support we’ve received from the Riverfront Development Corporation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the City and the State. We look forward to creating hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, enhancing the region’s tax base and welcoming our first guests in early 2014.”

The ceremonial shovels marked the start of construction less than two months after the RDC announced plans for the hotel and the Penn Cinema movie and IMAX theater complex, which broke ground last month. Purzycki said the rapid starts of both projects, which will bring nearly 200 construction jobs to the Riverfront, emphasize the value businesses and the community place in the continued expansion of Wilmington’s Riverfront.

“This area represents tremendous opportunity for a wide range of businesses, employees and residents, and the Westin will mark yet another exciting chapter in the great story we’ve been telling about the Riverfront for the last 15 years,” Purzycki said. “Businesses like the Westin and Penn Cinema are eager to add to that story and experience their own part of that success, and we are thrilled to welcome them and the positive effects they’ll have on our region.

The World’s largest roll on/roll off (ro/ro) vessel, the MV Tysla, discharged Hyundai and Kia vehicles last month during a port call at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (PAMT)

Nearly 250,000 vehicles have been unloaded since Hyundai Motor Co. and its logistics affiliate, Glovis of America, began local operations in August 2010, said David Whene, president of Greenwich Terminals, which operates PAMT.

“We’re excited to be handling the unloading of such massive ships,” Whene said, noting that a similarly sized sister ship, the Tonsberg, visited Philadelphia in April 2011. “These ships are a sight to behold.”

“We’re always working to improve our facilities and capabilities in order to successfully compete in an increasing complex and challenging global world,” said Thomas J. Holt, Jr., President of Astro Holdings, Inc., which leases PAMT under a long-term concession with the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. “Bringing in massive ships such as the MV Tysla shows that our efforts are working, and we expect to attract additional new business in the months and years ahead.”

The MV Tysla is 265 meters long and has a cargo volume of 138,000 cubic meters. It has a capacity of 8,500 car-equivalent units (CEU). There are six fixed and three hoistable decks. Norwegian shipping firm Wilh. Wilhelmsen said the ship has more flexibility to carry high and heavy cargo, and also was built to be environmentally friendly, using nearly 20 percent less fuel than older ro/ro ships.

The vehicles that arrive at PAMT are processed at a 100-acre auto finishing facility at Pier 98 Annex at Columbus Boulevard and Oregon Avenue by the Walt Whitman Bridge. Once completed, those cars leave the facility by truck and possibly in the future by rail.

Temple University Health System now Includes Fox Chase Cancer Center

As of July 1, 2012, Fox Chase Cancer Center became a part of Temple University Health System, one of Philadelphia’s leading academic health centers, providing access to quality care through its hospitals and multi-specialty satellite facilities while supporting excellence and innovation in education and research.

“We are pleased to welcome Fox Chase Cancer Center into Temple’s healthcare enterprise,” said Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS, Senior Executive Vice President of Health Sciences for Temple University, President and CEO of Temple University Health System, and Dean of Temple University School of Medicine. “The addition of Fox Chase Cancer Center — one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. — solidifies Temple’s position as a leader in cancer care and translational research. It also sets the stage for exciting and numerous opportunities to grow and enhance cancer-related patient care, research and educational programs.”

“Fox Chase Cancer Center is committed to serving as one of the nation’s top comprehensive cancer centers, delivering world-class care to our patients and remaining at the forefront of scientific discovery,” said Michael V. Seiden, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center. “Now, as a member of Temple University Health System, we are in a stronger position than ever before to meet the needs of current and future cancer patients.”

On December 15, 2011, Temple University Health System and Fox Chase Cancer Center signed an affiliation agreement for TUHS to acquire Fox Chase Cancer Center.

The newly official relationship between Temple University Health System and Fox Chase Cancer Center also promotes collaborative synergies between and among the physician-scientists at Temple University School of Medicine and Fox Chase Cancer Center — which will accelerate the pace of further discovery and development of the most effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The collaboration between these two highly regarded institutions will enhance their ability to recruit and retain the nation’s best researchers and clinicians, which in turn will help meet the healthcare needs of a growing patient base.

As an affiliate of Temple University Health System, Fox Chase Cancer Center will significantly expand its outpatient and surgical-care services — both within its existing facilities and through the use of leased space in neighboring Jeanes Hospital, an affiliate of Temple University Health System since 1996.

TechGirlz Aims to Develop Female Tech Leaders in Philadelphia

TechGirlz, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls to be future technology leaders, launched its first annual Entrepreneurship Camp in Philadelphia this month in conjunction with DreamIt Ventures and Startup Corps. The camp is designed to address the low percentage of tech start-ups (3%) that are led by women, according to the Kauffman Foundation.

During the week-long day camp at the University City Science Center, which took place earlier this month, twenty girls, ages 11 to 16, engaged in idea generation, presentation of their prototypes, and developed business plans under the guidance of some of the country’s leading startup executives, developers and graduates of the Startup Corps program.

“There is a major disconnect between the market and the tech industry today,” said Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of TechGirlz and Chief Marketing Officer at Chariot Solutions. “Women are starting half of the nearly 10 million businesses expected by 2018, but those founding tech-based businesses are a tiny fraction. Pair with that the fact that women control 70 percent of online purchases worldwide, and the reality is mind boggling. Young girls need access to hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math education more now than ever before. And this camp is the one place they can get the experience they need to change the trend. The ideas and innovation we’ve seen from them already is incredibly exciting.”

TechGirlz is designed to give girls in 6th-8th grades a week of hands-on technology experience as well as a chance to develop business ideas under the mentorship of local entrepreneurs and developers. The goal is to get girls more interested in technology and start-ups early on to change the gender statistics in the IT industry.

Walmart Foundation Grants $500,000 to Support Summer Jobs for Youth in Philadelphia

The Walmart Foundation provided a $500,000 grant to the Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. (PYN) via its 2012 Summer Youth Employment Initiative. This grant will fund 320 paid summer work opportunities for low income, disengaged youth, including out-of-school youth as well as those in the public care system (homeless, fostered, abused, adjudicated). In addition to 150 hours of paid work experiences, participants will receive a range of educational and supportive services designed to address barriers to success in school and work. Philadelphia Youth Network is the managing partner of WorkReady Philadelphia.

In its sixth year, the initiative, a collaborative effort by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce with TD Bank, and WorkReady Philadelphia and their partners, encourages regional companies of all sizes to change the life of a young person by providing a paid internship.

To date, more than 5,000 students have taken part in this important initiative with over 100 companies and organizations. This year alone, 1,114 students are taking part in this program. For participating organizations, the costs are minimal. Each position costs the employer roughly $1,670, which includes intern salary and program administration. For six weeks, the interns work for at least 20 hours a week per week Monday through Thursday and attend professional development programs on Fridays.

“We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for their investment in Philadelphia’s youth. This infusion of dollars, coupled with local funding, has helped Philadelphia to bring the number of WorkReady Summer youth employment opportunities from a projected low of 4,800 to over 5,600. Just as importantly, the Walmart Foundation dollars are enabling WorkReady to pilot an expanded summer program for a critical population. Research conducted through this project will shed light on best practices that can be incorporated into future WorkReady programming,” said Stacy E. Holland, PYN’s President and CEO.

This grant is part of a three-pronged, $20M investment the Walmart Foundation is making to enable low-income children to enjoy smarter, healthier and more productive summers. The grants will help expand nutrition, learning, and employment programs for elementary, middle, and high school students in 350 local communities throughout the 2012 summer months. The grant PYN is receiving comes via Brandeis University, which is serving as the National Program Office for the summer jobs component of this larger initiative. Philadelphia is only one of seven cities funded by this program; others include: Phoenix, AZ; New York, NY; Hartford, CT; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; and Los Angeles, CA.

The issue of youth employment has drawn recent attention from the White House, which released a report in early June 2012 from its Council for Community Solutions. The report concludes that there needs to be increased collaboration between governments, grant makers and nonprofits to get young people educated and prepared for jobs.

“Summer is a critical time for the continued health and development of our nation’s youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. We know that providing access to job opportunities and skills training during the summer months will allow students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with Philadelphia Youth Network, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives.”

WorkReady Summer programs began on July 2 and run through August 10.

Spirit Airlines Joins Philly International Airport’s Family of Carriers

Spirit Airlines, whose mantra is “liberating consumers from high fares,” has announced it will begin daily nonstop service between Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) beginning in April 2013. Spirit is the 3rd new airline this year to announce it will introduce service in Philadelphia. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines joined the Airport’s family of carriers in April and June, respectively.

Based in Miramar, Florida, near its Fort Lauderdale hub, Spirit operates more than 200 daily flights to over 50 destinations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. In May 2011, the airline began serving Dallas Fort-Worth, where it has rapidly expanded operations. Philadelphia is the 21st city Spirit has announced it is adding at DFW and the 6th this month alone.

Spirit Airlines (NASDAQ: SAVE) operates a fleet of Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft. The airline has a heavy Latin America / Caribbean presence. Its international network includes 4 cities in Colombia, 2 cities in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. It also has flights to Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Haiti, Panama, Aruba, Mexico City, Saint Thomas and Saint Maarten.

First-in-the-World Technology Innovation Brings Smart Grid into Philadelphia Train Stations

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) unveiled its ground-breaking recycled energy and optimization project last month. The pilot project captures the braking energy of its trains on the Market-Frankford Line and will integrate that power into the regional electric grid. The new technology demonstrates a first-in-the-world achievement for public transit, and truly showcases the potential of the smart grid.

When SEPTA’s trains brake at each stop to load and unload thousands of Pennsylvania passengers, the kinetic energy of the train is converted into electricity. But like many transit agencies across the country, without a method to capture that excess electricity, it could not be stored and used at a later time.

Energy storage has proven to be a solution for capturing regenerative braking to provide supply savings. It has also been proven that energy storage can provide support to the electric grid through the frequency regulation market. But these two approaches have never been brought together into one technological innovation that creates a recurring economic value.

SEPTA successfully launched the fulfillment of a new smart grid solution that captures the regenerative braking energy of trains through a large scale battery storage system and will deploy that energy as virtual power into PJM’s wholesale power frequency regulation and energy markets.

“Through this pilot project, SEPTA will become even more energy efficient, which will help control operating costs — benefiting both customers and taxpayers. We’ve made our system cleaner, greener and more efficient in recent years — things like replacing traditional diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids and installing energy-efficient lighting at stations, facilities and offices,” said Joe Casey, General Manager at SEPTA. “These measures are helping us control costs in tough economic conditions — and making us a better neighbor in the communities we serve.”

SEPTA launched the pilot project in partnership with Viridity Energy, a smart grid technology firm that specializes in electric market integration. Saft was selected to provide the design, manufacturing and commissioning of its Intensium Max20 P System, a battery energy storage system (ESS). Envitech Energy, a member of the ABB group, was selected to provide power controls, power conversion and system integration using its ENVISTORE TM System. With these partner technologies and Viridity Energy’s VPower™ software optimization system, the train’s regenerative braking energy is being transformed into virtual power that will provide significant energy savings and new energy revenue to support SEPTA’s progressive sustainability goals.

Viridity Energy’s VPower™ optimizer enables the simultaneous process of regenerative capture, regulation performance, and energy market participation by selecting which market to participate in based upon market pricing, battery state of charge, and availability of regenerative energy from the trains.

“We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking achievement,” said Audrey Zibelman, CEO and President of Viridity Energy. “In a smart grid world, two-way digital information exchange opens up new horizons. This project truly showcases the potential of that smart-grid world, particularly as it applies to the transportation industry. By harnessing the regenerative braking power of the trains and empowering SEPTA to become a virtual power generator that can provide valuable and environmentally responsible service to the electric grid, we can fulfill the promise of interconnected systems on the grid and behind the meter responding dynamically to reliability and economic signals to strengthen the grid.”

Secretary of Health Presents Excellence Awards to Nursing Home Facilities in Montgomery, Philadelphia Counties

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Eli. N. Avila visited two nursing home facilities yesterday to present the state’s inaugural “Awards for Excellence in Health Care Compliance.”

“One of our goals is to change how we demonstrate quality assurance in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Avila. “In reviewing our role, we realized we were missing positive reinforcement, which led to this award recognizing facilities that have shown excellence in meeting state regulations.”

The Department of Health licenses and oversees 713 nursing homes statewide, conducting approximately 5,000 inspections annually, including licensure and certification surveys, follow-up surveys and complaint investigations.

Facilities receiving the award were required to have no state citations over the last three calendar years based on annual health survey inspections. All department-licensed nursing homes were eligible for the award and did not need to apply to be considered.

Dr. Avila’s first visit yesterday was to The Meadows at Shannondell, in Audubon, where he presented the award to Nursing Home Administrator Dan Freed.

“It is extremely exciting to know that our staff is being recognized for the outstanding care that they provide to our residents,” said Freed. “Their steadfast commitment to deliver exceptional, compassionate care to every single resident is what makes us a truly special community.”

The second visit was to the Pennsylvania Hospital Skilled Care Center, in Philadelphia, where Dr. Avila presented the award to Nursing Home Administrator Kathy Magnes.

“For years, Pennsylvania Hospital has taken great pride in maintaining a deficiency-free skilled nursing facility,” said Magnes. “This achievement has been accomplished through the dedication and devoted care that the skilled care team members provide each and every day and we are honored to have our efforts recognized.”