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Ben Franklin Technology Partners Invests $400k in Two Tech Startups

By Colin McEvoy on January 13, 2022

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 an investment of $400,000 in support of regional economic development, including $200,000 for a health startup based in the Lehigh Valley.

Vessel Health, Inc., which is based in the Ben Franklin TechVentures incubator in Bethlehem, will use the funds to continue to develop its in-home wellness tracker. The demand for in-home diagnostics is growing rapidly because of the pandemic and other factors.

Ben Franklin will also provide $200,000 for the Philadelphia-based Grovara, LLC, which first launched in the Lehigh Valley at TechVentures. Grovara is a leading B2B global marketplace for wellness brands, connecting natural and organic brands with international retailers.

BFTP/NEP creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by investing in and linking companies with experts, universities, follow-on funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.

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. 

Vessel Health, Inc.’s in-home wellness tracker measures key chemistries from the user’s urine, and then provides recommendations to users to improve their health, according to Ben Franklin.

Using the results of a test strip, the Vessel Health mobile app provides results for 10 chemistry tests that measure vitamin and mineral levels, and ketones and pH levels. The app makes recommendations to users to improve results, and also provides wellness coaching as part of its subscription-based service. 

Grovara will use its funding to continue to expand a web-based marketplace platform that connects “Made in USA” natural foods, beverages, and other health and wellness retail brands with international wholesalers and retailers. 

Grovara provides end-to-end foreign market distribution and international brand management solutions, lowering the barriers to entry for smaller U.S.-based manufacturers to engage in global trade, according to BFTP/NEP.

The portal makes international trade faster and significantly more cost-effective and efficient, while giving brands and buyers more options and flexibility. Starting with two founders and leveraging a total of $200,000 in previous BFTP/NEP investments, the company now represents more than 80 brands in 30 countries, employs 23, and is growing rapidly.

BFTP/NEP’s strategy encompasses three key areas: 1) developing and growing early-stage technology-oriented companies, 2) supporting established manufacturers as they creatively apply new technology to help them succeed globally by producing better, less expensively, and faster, and 3) promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that supports Pennsylvania’s business technology ecosystem.

Since beginning operations in 1983, BFTP/NEP has typically been among the top 5% of the most active investors in the U.S. and 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.

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