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Ben Franklin to Invest $567,245 to Support Northeastern PA Economic Development.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors has approved the investment of $567,245 in support of regional economic development. BFTP/NEP is an award-winning, state-funded economic development organization that links early-stage technology companies and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.

BFTP/NEP plans to invest in the following Pennsylvania early-stage companies:

InfraRed Imaging Systems, Bethlehem - $42,941

Produce and market the VascularViewer, a medical imaging device that allows clinicians to better visualize veins and arteries in the human body in accurate detail, in real-time, and non-invasively. This enables clinicians to more painlessly and efficiently insert needles and catheters. The VascularViewer has both FDA clearance and UL approval. The device is now being placed in hospitals.

Penn Truss Systems, LLC, Middleburg - $30,000

Evaluate new product design and manufacturing capabilities, expand marketing activities, and hire new employees to meet increasing production and operation demands for this manufacturer of roof and floor trusses. This will allow the company to introduce new products in the industry that will provide it with a competitive edge.

RantNetwork, Inc., Bloomsburg - $150,000

Expand the marketing and development initiatives of RantNetwork's "Communilator" application for language translation in mobile phones. This tool provides both text-to-text and text-to-speech translation support for more than 72 different language pairs. It also offers image text translation, allowing a cell phone camera to capture an image and translate the image to text and/or speech. These applications provide real-time cell phone communication among people speaking different languages and expand users' abilities to immediately translate photos of text to any language, such as restaurant menus and road signs. Using the company's technology, for example, an American could have a live conversation with a German, each in their own languages, with no delay for translation.

Snake Creek Lasers, Hallstead - $150,000

Increase the value proposition and decrease manufacturing costs for this developer and manufacturer of green lasers. Assess the current production cost drivers, identify opportunities to increase performance of specific laser products, define market requirements, and produce new working prototypes. Snake Creek Lasers produces miniaturized lasers and high-powered cryogenic lasers for both military and commercial applications. The company has a significant patent portfolio, and is recognized as the manufacturer of the world's smallest and highest-power-density solid-state green laser products.

Third Eye Diagnostics, Inc., Bethlehem - $30,000

Conduct prototype development and clinical studies leading to the commercialization of Cerepress[TM], a non-invasive intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor. The monitor gathers pressure measurements externally from the eye of patients with a head injury or who have suffered a stroke. Existing standard-of-care devices that monitor ICP are invasive and require drilling a hole through the patient's skull to measure pressure, which can expose patients to significant complications, and poses a significant and preventable cost to the U.S. healthcare system.

TotalTakeout.com, Allentown - $56,000

Implement the commercialization plan of this Internet-based provider of takeout meals for sales presentations and facilitate its expansion into the consumer on-line ordering market through an Affiliate Partner Network. Grow TotalTakeout's existing nationwide client base of restaurants and foster its affiliate and strategic partnerships in order to increase company revenue. TotalTakeout has built its national footprint of restaurants and caterers in over 250 cities across the U.S.

Ben Franklin announces the following Pennsylvania established manufacturer investments:

Hitachi Metals Automotive Components USA, LLC, Lawrenceville - $36,250

University Partner: Pennsylvania State University

Develop a collagen-based core binder system that will displace the current petroleum-based phenolic urethane and resin binders that are used by this manufacturer of ductile iron castings. The expected results are improved profitability, enhanced worker safety, reduced emissions, and decreased energy consumption and costs.

Puritan Products, Inc., Bethlehem - $32,494

University Partner: Lehigh University

Assist Puritan, which custom formulates chemicals to customer specifications, in attaining "Current Good Manufacturing Practices" compliance status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This will allow the company to expand in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets, which require this certification. These industries are experiencing critical and growing needs for raw materials and custom-blended solutions.

Ward Manufacturing, Blossburg - $25,000

University Partner: Pennsylvania State University

Reduce plant operating costs for this manufacturer of cast iron pipes and fittings by replacing a portion of the cupola coke used in the foundry operation with less expensive collagen-binded anthracite fines. Also decrease costs by reducing the consumption of sand, clay, and coal in the foundry by implementing a new hydroacoustic cavitation reclamation system that can recover much of the waste products.

Ben Franklin also plans to invest in an infrastructure initiative.

Keystone Energy Technology and Enterprise Center, Mount Carmel - $14,560

Conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of an alternative energy business incubator in the Mount Carmel/Shamokin area.
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Date:May 28, 2009
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