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Ben Franklin Technology Partners Invests $275,000 in Regional Economy

By Colin McEvoy on July 8, 2021

Ben Franklin Technology Partners operates the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem. It’s a key resource for life sciences research. (photo courtesy BFTP/NEP)

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) has announced it will invest $275,000 in the regional economy, which will include support for three companies based in the Lehigh Valley.

The Bethlehem companies Raven Biomaterials and Mussel Polymers each received $100,000 in loans from BFTP/NEP, and the Wind Gap-based BRD Noise and Vibration Control received 1:1 matching funding through the company’s partnership with Lehigh University.

The funding, which was approved by BFTP/NEP’s board of directors, is part of Ben Franklin’s mission to support early-stage technology-based firms and innovative manufacturers that help create and retain highly paid, sustainable jobs in Pennsylvania.

Raven Biomaterials will use the funds to further develop, test, and prepare to manufacture fundamentally new magnetic beads that are used to separate biological components out of blood.

The company’s first application targets improving cell therapeutic manufacturing for cancer treatment, increasing the yield of targeted cell material at a significantly lower cost than current methods. Other applications of Raven’s bead include patient monitoring, gene therapy, antibody production, blood banking, vaccine manufacturing, and scientific research. 

Mussel Polymers develops effective adhesive solutions for challenging applications, including underwater, on wet surfaces, or in high-moisture environments. These adhesive and primers are used in medical, dental, electronics, roofing, automotive, defense, and marine sectors.

The BFTP/NEP loan will be used to streamline production processes utilizing poly(catechol-styrene) to develop new adhesives and adhesive primers, as well as scaling up manufacturing to meet existing and future demand for Mussel Polymers’ products.

Both Raven Biomaterials and Mussel Polymers are based in Ben Franklin TechVentures, an award-winning technology business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus in Bethlehem.

BRD Noise and Vibration Control will use its funding to incorporate new scanning and modeling techniques into its engineering process and streamline standard product management, to make the process for assessing new noise and vibration control projects more efficient.

The company specializes in HVAC acoustic design and manufacturing to help architects, MEP and acoustical consultants, and design/build contractors in the specification of cost-effective approaches to keep mechanical equipment quiet. It also troubleshoots and implements remediation treatments for sound problems in existing construction.

“We are fortunate to have such talented and supportive institutions, consultants and funding partners right here in the Lehigh Valley,” said Tim McNair, Chief Financial Officer with BRD Noise & Vibration Control. “Our work with BFTP has helped us become more competitive and add local staff to our team. We are looking forward to this next phase project with BFTP.”

BFTP/NEP is part of a state-funded economic development initiative that serves a 21-county area, which includes Lehigh and Northampton counties. It is part of a four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

Since beginning operations in 1983, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 19,740 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 49,864 existing jobs, to start 531 new companies, and to develop 2,296 new products and processes.

Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated more than $1.6 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.90 to the state treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. 

BFTP/NEP’s strategy encompasses developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies, supporting established manufacturers as they creatively apply new technology, and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that supports Pennsylvania’s business technology ecosystem.

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