Ben Franklin iXchange Celebrates Retired Leader, Innovative Startups
By Colin McEvoy on May 19, 2021
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) honored its retiring President & CEO, welcomed its new leader, and celebrated the startups and individuals who have used innovation to achieve success and help fight back against COVID-19.
It all happened at the Ben Franklin iXchange 2021, held virtually for the first time in the event’s history, according to BFTP/NEP Board Chair Jan Heller. More than 300 people registered to attend the iXchange on May 18.
“From the onset of the COVID pandemic, dozens of Ben Franklin clients applied technology quickly and effectively to address many issues from biotechnology companies, from developing vaccines and tests, to telemedicine providers facilitating remote medicine, to learning platforms allowing instruction at home and so much more,” Heller said.
“The agility of early-stage technology firms and innovative manufacturers to respond to a crisis or market opportunity quickly is emblematic of Ben Franklin clients,” she said. “And our clients are part of the economic solution too by creating and retaining highly-paid sustainable technology-based jobs that will accelerate the financial recovery.”
The full video of the iXchange can be viewed on YouTube as well as below:
The iXchange included a farewell to retiring President & CEO R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., as well as a question-and-answer fireside chat with his successor Angelo Valletta. Since starting in the position in January, Valletta said he has been particularly impressed by the talents and skill sets of the people in the organization.
“One of my goals was to be able to speak with every single person on the team before my first day, and I was very blessed to be able to do that and start building those relationships,” he said. “It allowed me to really start on Jan 4. and hit the ground running.”
BFTP/NEP honored Paul by dedicating a large meeting and conference room to him, renaming their Innovation Award for him, and naming a private street next to Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator as “Chad Paul Way.”
Located on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus in Bethlehem, TechVentures grew three times under Paul’s leadership, from 18,000 square feet to 129,000 square feet. Paul raised $16.4 million to fund these expansions, according to these organizations.
BFTP/NEP also presented six innovation awards to early-stage technology companies, established manufacturers, and individuals who have helped Ben Franklin to advance the technology economy of northeastern Pennsylvania.
The award recipients were:
- Entrepreneurial Achievement Award: OPTiMO
- R. Chadwick Paul, Jr. Incubator Graduate Award: ChannelApe
- Product Innovation Award: Signallamp Health, Inc.
- Innovative Application of Technology Award: SOLO Laboratories, Inc.
- Manufacturing Achievement Award: Effort Foundry, Inc.
- Frederick J. Beste III Partnership Award: Eugene A. Lucadamo, retired Director of Industry Research Engagement at Lehigh University
Mike Averto, CEO of ChannelApe, said BFTP/NEP was instrumental in helping them find and secure talent, as well as access the starting capital needed to start the company.
“Starting a company like this, I didn’t have my own capital to bring to the table, so Ben Franklin was very helpful there,” Averto said. “They took a risk on us when nobody else did.”
BFTP/NEP serves a 21-county service area, including Northampton and Lehigh counties. Since it was established in 1983, it has helped create 19,740 new jobs, retain 49,864 existing jobs, start 531 new companies, and develop 2,296 new products and processes.
The organization also played a major role in lifting Pennsylvania’s economy and keeping people employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting 1,697 companies and helping clients create and retain nearly 14,000 more positions, according to a new impact report.
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