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Ben Franklin iXchange Encourages a ‘Revolt Against Routine’

By Colin McEvoy on May 10, 2017

More than 450 people attended the iXchange event at Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem.

More than 450 people attended the iXchange event at Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem.

“Revolt Against Routine” was the theme of the 2017 iXchange, the annual event hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), and the keynote speaker’s entrance demonstrated that perfectly.

As Dustin Garis’ name was announced and the music began playing, a man rushed onto the stage at Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center and began breakdancing, drawing applause and impressed cheers from a crowd.

But after about 30 seconds, his dance was interrupted when another man walked onto the stage and said, “Actually… I’m Dustin Garis.”

“I’ve always wanted to make an entrance like that… but I don’t know how to breakdance,” said Dustin Garis, known as “Chief Troublemaker” with LifeProfit.com for his innovative approach to brand building, new business ventures, and corporate entrepreneurship.

More than 450 technology entrepreneurs, business people, venture capitalists, economic developers, political leaders, and regional influencers attended the 23rd annual iXchange on May 9.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was a partner sponsor of the event.

Garis encouraged the attendees to break out of their routine and stimulate innovation for themselves and their organizations. BFTP/NEP embraced that theme in another unusual way at the iXchange: handing out free pairs of socks with wild colors and designs.

“Autopilot doesn’t inspire creativity. The crazy socks that some of us are wearing tonight represent a simple way to ‘Revolt Against Routine,’” said R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and CEO of BFTP/NEP. About 600 pairs of socks were distributed, and none were left over.

More than 450 technology entrepreneurs, business people, venture capitalists, economic developers, political leaders, and regional influencers attended the 23rd annual iXchange.

More than 450 technology entrepreneurs, business people, venture capitalists, economic developers, political leaders, and regional influencers attended the 23rd annual iXchange.

Garis said he believes the root of all innovation begins and ends with the human experience. The challenge, he said, is seeing past the noise and focusing on the key drivers of market disruption.

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners program serves 21 counties across the state, and has returned $3.60 in state tax revenue for every $1 invested in the program, according to the findings of an independent study Paul discussed at the iXchange.

Since its inception in 1983, BFTP/NEP has created 17,415 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers, retained 27,384 existing jobs, started 492 new companies, developed 1,591 new products and processes,and generated more than $1.46 billion in follow-on funding, Paul said.

BFTP/NEP also distributed its 2017 Innovation Awards during the iXchange. Among the winners was the Bethlehem-based Glemser Technologies Corporation. It received the Incubator Graduate award, which goes to a company that best demonstrates successful Ben Franklin incubation.

Glemser Technologies is a graduate of Ben Franklin TechVentures, a business incubator located on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus in Bethlehem. Founded in 1987, the company develops IT solutions and services for life science companies throughout North America and Europe.

“Ben Franklin once said it’s easier to prevent bad habits than to break them,” Raymond Glemser, President of Glemser Technologies, said as the accepted the award. “I’d like to thank Ben Franklin for providing us with the capital, expertise and space we needed at the beginning of our journey to develop the good habits, both technical and business, required to sustain us over all these years.

Other 2017 Innovation Award Winners included…

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