Factory LLC to Host Second Annual StartUp Lehigh Valley Virtually

By Colin McEvoy on October 8, 2020

Last year’s Startup Valley event was held the Bethlehem-based Factory LLC. This year’s event will be held virtually.

The Factory LLC, a Bethlehem-based investor and operator for food, beverage, and pet health companies in Lehigh Valley, has announced it will hold its second annual StartUp Lehigh Valley event virtually this year.

The event, which will be held on Nov. 18, brings together local leaders in industry and education with emerging entrepreneurs and start-up founders to foster the innovation ecosystem of the Lehigh Valley.

“With the support of the local community, we believe that the Lehigh Valley is positioned to be in alignment with Austin, Texas or Boulder, Colo., cities that are currently hotbeds for entrepreneurial start-ups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory LLC.

“We chose the name StartUp Lehigh Valley for this event to signify that it is truly inclusive of everyone in the Lehigh Valley community,” said Thompson, a former CEO of Freshpet.

StartUp Lehigh Valley will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, visit

The event seeks to position Lehigh Valley as the innovation hub of the East Coast by bringing together local business leaders, angel investors, industry experts, merchants, higher education representatives, students, community members and entrepreneurs, Thompson said.

It will include an innovation pitch competition, in which Lehigh Valley entrepreneurs, and startup founders will present their business ideas to the local community for the opportunity to win $10,000 from Penn State Lehigh Valley Launchbox.

Ten participants will be chosen to compete and present their business ideas during a virtual rapid two-minute pitch. The virtual audience will be judging the pitches via a smartphone application and will decide the “Audience Award” for the best entrepreneur pitch.

Participants must be incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania and the entrepreneur winners must submit receipts to Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox prior to receiving prize money. Visit the StartUp Lehigh Valley website to apply to participate in the competition.

“Entrepreneurs have long been the backbone of our economy – and our workforce,” said Dr. Tina Richardson, Chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. PSU Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is a partner in the event and will be awarding the prize money.

“More recently however, the global impact and forced pivots of the pandemic clearly demonstrated how important their ability to think differently, to problem solve and boldly forge new ground is in our rapidly evolving world,” Richardson said. “It’s why we formed LaunchBox five years ago and doubled down on our commitment to foster innovation within our community and students through its massive network of resources and our partnership with Factory.”

Located in a converted former Bethlehem Steel mill, the Factory LLC is an innovation center for startup food, beverage, and pet health companies. The site underwent a $12 million renovation in 2018.

The Factory includes a team of experienced operators with investable capital who acquire meaningful equity stakes in client companies and partner with them to grow. The 40,000 square-foot laboratory offers services in everything from food safety, product development, supply chain, and social media marketing.

The Factory hosted its first StartUp Lehigh Valley event last October, which included remarks from Matthew Tuerk, who was then the Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing at the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). He stressed the value of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Having a strong network of support, resources, and contacts is essential for regional entrepreneurship to strive, and fortunate Lehigh Valley is rich with that,” Tuerk said. “That spark of innovation is something that’s present here in Lehigh Valley, and it’s something we’ve been highlighting as part of our Made Possible in Lehigh Valley initiative.”

National Entrepreneurship Day will be on Nov. 19, and both Factory and the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership (BFTP) of Northeastern Pennsylvania are holding events for it throughout the week. In addition to StartUp Lehigh Valley on Nov. 18, BFTP will virtually host Ben Franklin Venture Idol on Nov. 17.

For more information at StartUp Lehigh Valley, contact Grady Barth at [email protected].

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