Ben Franklin Northeast Launches New Funding Program for Life Sciences Startups
By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on February 9, 2023
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania has launched a new fund to help startups in a key Lehigh Valley industry sector: the life sciences.
The Life Science and Healthcare Technology Fund will match up to $250,000 investments from regional healthcare providers and specialists, private corporations and academic institutions that create spinoff companies or develop related technologies.
The organization must commit at least $50,000 to startups focused on technologies that improve patients’ lives or deliver care. Improvements can include new biologics or pharmaceuticals; medical devices or diagnostics; in-hospital caregiving and patient management tools and software; new caregiving solutions; staff and patient safety solutions; and community health solutions.
“Through this fund, Ben Franklin Northeast will not only support companies that are improving the human condition, but it will also create and refresh, retain, and reimagine highly paid, sustainable jobs in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Angelo Valletta, President and Chief Executive Officer at Ben Franklin Northeast.
The life sciences is among the industry sectors that the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.(LVEDC) has targeted for attraction because of the family-sustaining jobs that sector provides. In the Lehigh Valley, the average in the life science salary tops $97,000, about $36,000 more than the average wage industry-wide.
The Lehigh Valley sits amid a life science supercluster that stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C. The region is home to more than 170 life sciences business establishments and has a niche in the medical device industry. A million square feet of life sciences space has been added in the Lehigh Valley since in 2021.
Global leaders B. Braun Medical and Olympus of the America’s have their U.S. headquarters in the Lehigh Valley.
The region has attracted younger companies, many which got their start at Ben Franklin. Among the bigger success stories is OraSure Technologies, which made the world’s first at-home HIV test and now is producing COVID-19 tests. OraSure got its start when four entrepreneurs launched a predecessor company that drew on the lab space, expertise, and financial resources of Ben Franklin. Other Ben Franklin clients include Bio Med Sciences, CryoConcepts U.S. Specialty Formulations, Saladax Biomedical, LifeAire Systems, and Thread Bioscience.
“The Lehigh Valley is attractive to life science companies because of its proximity to a third of the U.S. population, its growing workforce and the expertise Ben Franklin offers,” said Kristin Cahayla-Hoffman, LVEDC Vice President of Business Development and Attraction. “This new funding program continues to strengthen the region’s strategic advantage in the life sciences.”
To qualify for the Ben Franklin’s new funding program, the new startup must be located in, or relocate to, Ben Franklin Northeast’s 21-county service territory that includes the following counties: Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming. The founder must also be full-time with the company.
Potential clients and partners are encouraged to contact Wayne Barz, Chief Investment Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The Project was financed in part from Pennsylvania Small Business Credit Initiative funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.
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