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Thread Bioscience Wins 2019 Ben Franklin Venture Idol

By Colin McEvoy on November 18, 2020

More than 200 people viewed the 17th annual 2020 Ben Franklin Venture Idol, which was held virtually this year.

Thread Bioscience, Inc. was chosen as the winner of the 2020 Ben Franklin Venture Idol, a cross between American Idol and Shark Tank hosted annually by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP).

Held virtually this year, the 17th annual competition featured three finalists who delivered pitches to a panel of entrepreneurial and angel investors. The finalists were chosen from seven entrepreneurs who made initial presentations to more than 30 judges the previous week.

“Ben Franklin Venture Idol is one of the many ways in which we help prepare and introduce early-stage technology-based firms to additional funding opportunities,” said R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., President and CEO of BFTP/NEP.

“Ben Franklin also supports innovation in established manufacturers,” Paul said. “We link companies with university experts who analyze clients’ operations on an enterprise-wide basis, and provide innovative product and process improvement recommendations.”

More than 200 people viewed Venture Idol, and a total of $15,000 in investment was funded among the three finalists based on a crowdfunding-style audience vote. In addition to Thread Bioscience, the finalists included Rocket Cloud, Inc. and BE Mindfulness, LLC.

“Supporting early-stage technology firms is a key part of Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ mission,” Paul said. “In addition to providing seed capital to young companies, Ben Franklin investments are a significant endorsement to help them attract follow-on funding. This new funding leverages our investment.” 

The Bethlehem-based Thread Bioscience has created an innovative new diagnostic test called CultureStat, which detects urinary tract infections more quickly, accurately, and at a lower cost than current testing methods.

UTIs are the number one infection afflicting women, and are responsible for the largest number of antibiotics prescriptions. But delays inherent in current testing methods lead to the greatest number of improperly prescribed antibiotics for any infection, according to Thread Bioscience.

A program book with more information about Thread Bioscience and the other clients is available online.

The Venture Idol event also featured a keynote panel presentation by Joe Blair, Cota Capital; Paul Martino, Bullpen Capital; and Todd Pietri, Activate Ventures about what 2020 has taught about startups, and about funding them in 2021. Wayne Barz, Chief Investment Officer with BFTP/NEP, served as moderator.

The panelists observed that business in general slowed down for the first six to eight weeks after the pandemic started, in a sort of triage period. After that, entrepreneurial deal flow increased and is robust now.

Many companies were hurt by COVID-19, but others that were able to pivot or adjust rapidly have come back and some have even benefited, the panelists said. Because innovative thinking and nimbleness are emblematic of startups, these firms are uniquely positioned to generate rapid solutions to this pandemic and future crises.

“Making products better, faster, and at a lower cost through technology helps our manufacturing clients compete and succeed internationally,” Paul said. “… Now more than ever we need to support the entrepreneurs and innovative manufacturers that will accelerate our recovery and avoid or minimize future disasters.”

Among the ways BFTP/NEP serves its clients is by sharing in-house expertise, providing business and technical support, and introducing clients to its solutions network of experts. It also provides incubator spaces at Ben Franklin TechVentures.

“If there’s one thing the pandemic has reinforced, it’s the importance of innovation in addressing crises,” Chad said. “The ability to respond quickly, pivot as necessary, and execute to respond efficiently to urgent needs is emblematic of Ben Franklin clients.”

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