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Bethlehem organization invests $400K in Pa. companies

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An example of the technology being developed by OrthoForge of Bethlehem, one of several companies that earned investments from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. OrthoForge is looking to launch a device that provides health care professionals with real time data on bone fracture healing. (Contributed)
An example of the technology being developed by OrthoForge of Bethlehem, one of several companies that earned investments from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. OrthoForge is looking to launch a device that provides health care professionals with real time data on bone fracture healing. (Contributed)

A Bethlehem economic development organization named its newest group of Greater Lehigh Valley companies to earn investments.

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s board of directors said it approved the investment of $397,543 in support of regional economic development. The organization said its goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage.

The organization, headquartered at Ben Franklin TechVentures at Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus in Bethlehem, said the following early stage company investments are provided in the form of loans with warrants, with the funds now available.

Ben Franklin invested $100,000 in OrthoForge of Ben Franklin TechVentures to finalize engineering to start the initial build of a medical device.

“We are the next gen in bone growth stimulation,” said Jim Fries, CEO of OrthoForge. “What we are working toward is the ability to read that data in real time.”

Aside from providing real-time data regarding fracture healing, the device will stimulate bone growth at the targeted area.

“It helps springboard that next step of engineering for us,” Fries said of the loan. “It will allow us to take the prototype and develop it further.”

He anticipated launching the company’s pilot devices to the market by the end of 2018 and will target orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine experts, Fries said.

Fries, who has worked in the medical device industry for years, said his company, which has three employees, has benefited from the partnership with Ben Franklin.

“My dream has always been to develop a company in the Lehigh Valley,” Fries said. “The collaboration of Ben Franklin makes it possible. This is a great step for our company.”

Other companies to receive loans included:

• Dellicker Strategies LLC of Heidelberg Township.

Ben Franklin invested $100,000 to provide support for sales and marketing efforts and software enhancements. The company produces a software platform that facilitates personalized learning strategies for kindergarten to 12th grade classrooms.

• Zukay Live Foods LLC of Hereford Township, Berks County.

Ben Franklin invested $100,000 to provide marketing and distribution support for a new product line and support sales expansion of the Jacob’s Raw product line to more retailers. The company manufactures raw, probiotic and vegan condiments and beverages.

Ben Franklin also said it made several investments in established manufacturers. For these investments, Ben Franklin provides one-to-one matching funding for work with a college or university partner on technology-based manufacturing innovation.

These companies included:

• Prizer-Painter Stove Works Inc. of Blandon, Berks County.

• University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center.

• Ben Franklin Investment: $19,100.

The company will use the funds to improve factory flow and efficiencies at a new building bought by Prizer-Painter Stove Works to accommodate rapid increases in demand.

Prizer-Painter Stove Works manufactures high-end cooking and ventilation equipment under brands such as BlueStar, Prizer Hoods and Big Chill, as well as a new premium refrigeration line.

• Freshpet Inc. of Hanover Township, Northampton County.

• University Partner: Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center.

• Ben Franklin Investment: $12,500.

Freshpet will use the funding to complete the analysis of process, product and environmental data in order to determine key yield influencers in Freshpet’s proprietary process for manufacturing food for dogs and cats.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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