Economic expert to speak at i xchange honoring innovators

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Former White House senior economic adviser Todd Buchholz will be the keynote speaker May 7 at the 18th annual Innovation Awards ceremony at Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.

The ceremony is part of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s i xchange. The i xchange is an annual business and technology networking event for business people, economic developers, venture capitalists, political leaders, educators, students, bankers, lawyers and accountants from Ben Franklin’s 21-county service area.

In his presentation, “Rush: Competing in a Chaotic Economy,” Buchholz will disclose the importance of competition, saying the race has not only made America stronger and smarter, it’s what Americans love and need.

Buchholz is an international economist, Tiger Hedge Fund manager, frequent television and radio commentator and former lecturer at Harvard. He has written several best-selling books on the economy.

At the i xchange, Innovation Awards will be presented in five categories to companies or people who have achieved business success through Ben Franklin funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success or have improved their businesses through innovation.

A look at the award-winners, with some information provided by Ben Franklin Technology Partners:

ENTREPRENEURIAL ACHIEVEMENT

Winner: CyOptics Inc., Breinigsville.

CEO: Ed J. Coringrato Jr.

The early- to mid-2000s were filled with uncertainty in the telecom optoelectronics sector. CyOptics thrived by building intellectual property and market share. In addition to developing its own technology and products, the company made key acquisitions that helped it to become a global leader in its sector.

CyOptics manufactures Indium Phosphide-based optical components that enable applications in the fiber, cable, data center and long haul/metro segments of the communications network, as well as in defense and aerospace, high-performance computing and security sectors. In early 2005, 86 people worked at CyOptics in the Lehigh Valley. Today, the company employs more than 330 regionally and 837 worldwide, and this month it was announced that the company had been acquired by Avago Technologies Limited for $400 million.

INCUBATOR GRADUATE

Winner: Computer Aid Inc., Allentown.

President: Anthony J. Salvaggiot.

From its start in the early 1980s, Computer Aid Inc. has focused on building a business that provides dramatically improved productivity for the information technology software sector. For most of its life, CAI has been a worldwide leader in IT metrics, process and productivity. That capability typically provides CAI’s clients with a 30 percent cost reduction and improved quality and capability.

Now a global operation, CAI now manages active engagements with Fortune 1000 companies and is a trusted partner of these clients. In addition to its U.S. headquarters, CAI has offices in the Philippines, India, Australia, England and Brazil. Starting with just two employees, Computer Aid today has more than 3,000 full-time associates.

PRODUCT INNOVATION

Winner: Micro Interventional Devices, Langhorne.

President and CEO: Michael Whitman.

Beginning at Ben Franklin TechVentures in 2010, Micro Interventional Devices has developed a new, minimally invasive product for surgeons and cardiologists to use in life-saving and life-extending structural heart valve repair and replacement procedures. The company’s Permaseal closure device is a disruptive technology that will enable crucial procedures to be conducted through a small incision between the ribs as opposed to open heart surgery.

Company leaders attracted substantial follow-on funding that complements Ben Franklin’s $450,000 investment. Micro Interventional expanded to its own manufacturing facility in Langhorne earlier this year and will continue its clinical trials in Europe. It is estimated that the global transapical closure device market will exceed $400 million by 2015.

MANUFACTURING ACHIEVEMENT

Winner: East Penn Manufacturing Co., Lyon Station.

Executive Vice President and CEO: Robert P. Flicker.

East Penn Manufacturing has been producing and recycling lead-acid batteries for a wide variety of markets for more than 67 years. The company is a very significant regional employer that has worked with Ben Franklin repeatedly since 1987, partnering with Lehigh University and the Enterprise Systems Partners, the Penn College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center.

East Penn’s most recent work focused on developing a special process for the company’s new UltraBattery. This advanced lead-acid battery is being used in smart grid projects with or without renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar power, as well as in hybrid electric vehicles. Last fall, East Penn announced plans to increase battery manufacturing capacity and create jobs with an expansion of its Lyon Station-based manufacturing campus. East Penn employs more than 6,500 people in the Greater Reading area, and its growth has consistently exceeded average industry rates.

PARTNERSHIP

Winner: Edward Thompson, CPA and consultant, Clarks Summit.

As a seasoned finance and accounting adviser to a number of Ben Franklin early-stage clients, Thompson is helpful, supportive and proficient. Many startups experience the exhaustion of their initial capital investments, revenues that are not ramping up as quickly as planned, and panic setting in. Thompson enters with analysis and advice, helping young firms successfully navigate their typically difficult cash-flow challenges.

He rapidly and effectively collects data, enhances financial reporting structures and analyzes a client’s fiscal position. Then he presents the facts, along with short- and long-term solutions. Serving as part-time CFO, Thompson helps companies at their most vulnerable times, saving companies that, together, have created numerous sustainable technology-based jobs throughout the region.

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