Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Neil Weaver and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) announced that $16.4 million in Challenge Grant funding has been approved for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the first increase in funding for the BFTDA in 13 years.
“Pennsylvania’s history is filled with innovative individuals who changed the world, and DCED is proud to help keep this spirit alive through our work with the BFTDA,” said Sec. Weaver. “The commonwealth is home to many great start-ups. This increase in funding will ensure that Pennsylvania remains the best place to live, work, and do business through the investments made by the BFTDA.”
Each of the four Ben Franklin partners will receive $4,106,250 in funding. The partners provide access to capital, business expertise, technology commercialization services, and a network of resources to advance the development of new technologies.
While activities of the partners vary dramatically according to the needs of clients and market opportunities within their regions, activities are placed into four broad categories: Company Investments, Business and Technical Assistance, Technology/Entrepreneurial Infrastructure, and Administration Expenses.
Activities allowed under the Challenge Grant Program may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Serve as the commonwealth’s key regional partners in identifying, developing, adapting, and implementing advanced technologies to enable the growth and competitiveness of existing and emerging companies through technology development, commercialization, and implementation.
- Act as regional facilitators and managers for interactions, programs, and initiatives by and among the authority, technology enterprises, economic development organizations, corporate community, academic/research institutions, government, organized labor, and other interest working collaboratively to advance the development of a technology-based economy across the commonwealth.
- Directly provide, and serve as the conduit to, seed and later-stage capital for existing and emerging companies involved in the development and commercialization of technologically advanced products and processes.
- Develop, provide, or support business incubation resources and space and facilitate the development of technology business campuses.
- Establish partnerships to support and enhance the scale, scope, and impact of initiatives that support the purpose and mission of the BFTDA and the Partners.
In addition to the funding provided to the BFTDA partners, $1.5 million was awarded on behalf of the Dreamit Fund. This investment will provide funding opportunities for early-stage technology companies in the health and security sectors.
“Dreamit has consistently delivered results by being one of the BFTDA’s largest Pennsylvania company and job creators in the venture portfolio,” said Steve D’Ettorre, DCED Deputy Secretary for the Office of Technology and Entrepreneurship. “We look forward to seeing the opportunities this funding creates for start-ups across the commonwealth.”
The Dreamit Fund will primarily invest in companies being formed within the affiliated Dreamit Accelerators. The fund is being established by Mike Levinson and Steve Welch, two of the three original founders of Dreamit LLC. Joining them will be Steve Barsh as Partner, Darren Sandberg as Managing Partner, Steve Gray as Investor Relations, and Sarah Milewski as Director.