Ben Franklin Tech Partners Pumped $3.7M Into These 21 Philly-Area Startups Last Quarter

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Tech investment powerhouse Ben Franklin Technology Partners released their third quarter investment plan this week and 21 early-stage companies got approved for investment. A total of $3.7 in funding has been approved, and eight companies in the physical sciences sector got approved for the biggest sum of investment. The eight companies will receive $1.4 million in total.

The group’s three other divisions – information technology, digital health, and health – each hold 5 or fewer companies. Read more »

These 8 Startups Are in Ben Franklin’s First Fintech Accelerator Class

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Ben Franklin Tech Partners just announced the eight startups participating in its inaugural fintech accelerator program and the list of companies gives us a strong sense how quickly Philly’s fintech space is growing. As we reported in February, the new accelerator program is the region’s first support program for tech companies in the financial services space, and it’ll run in partnership with the D.C.-based investment firm Village Capital.

The 12-week program will kick off soon on April 24 and by the end, the eight companies will determine which two startups in the group should be rewarded $25,000 in investment capital. Participants will receive mentorship from industry experts including SEI, Wells Fargo, Vanguard, InstaMed and Safeguard Scientifics. And over the course of the program, they’ll focus on learning how to grow their businesses through Village Capital’s investment readiness curriculum.

The eight companies come from all parts of the financial services spectrum and nearly all of them are based in the Philadelphia region. A number of the companies also offer financial services solutions for big problems in education, real estate, philanthropy and health care. “With the blend of both impact-focused and transaction-based fintech concepts, it’s an impressive range of companies, and a great indicator of the depth of opportunity in our region,” said Ben Franklin president and CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal in a statement. Read more »

VitalTrax Scores First Cut of $6 Million Philly Digital Health Fund

Screenshot of VitalTrax website.

Screenshot of VitalTrax website.

Clinical trial software platform VitalTrax just became the first startup to dip into the $6 million digital health funding initiative launched by Safeguard Scientifics, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and Independence Blue Cross last December.

VitalTrax, a member of the University Science Center’s ic@3401 community, received $150,000 in seed funding from the new digital health initiative. The company’s cloud-based platform allows clinical trial teams to better recruit patients and communicate with them throughout the course of a trial. With the company’s mobile app, Wing, patients can search and apply for trials and directly input data into the app for the trials they participate in. And because many patients still face big hurdles to participation in clinical trials, these developments might play a big role in revolutionizing the space.  Read more »

New Accelerator Is Calling for Philly Fintech Entrepreneurs

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As we made our way into 2017 and looked ahead to what’s in store for Philly tech, there were many calls for the city to pay more attention to entrepreneurship outside of our trusty “eds and meds” space.

Ben Franklin Tech Partners is now specifically calling for a focus on Philly fintech. On Thursday, they announced a search for companies to apply for their Fintech Accelerator program, in partnership with D.C. investment firm Village Capital.

The two partners in the program are looking to invest a minimum of $50,000 in two early-stage fintech companies. And there’s a novel twist. The accelerator will actually accept about a dozen companies for the program, which will run from April to June of this year, but they’ll use a peer review model to decide who gets the funds. So at the end of the program, the participants will evaluate one another Survivor-style. It probably won’t be that cut-throat, but the program will require the entrepreneurs to evaluate each other’s businesses against nine indicators of “investment readiness.” And this idea didn’t come from nowhere. It’s Village Capital’s VilCap Communities program—their way of “democratizing” entrepreneurship and investment, bringing more transparency to the process. The model won a Harvard Business Review innovation prize a few years back and may be a welcome change for Philly entrepreneurs.

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These 16 Early-Stage Companies Were Backed by Ben Franklin Last Quarter

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Ben Franklin Tech Partners is the Pennsylvania’s biggest tech investor, which last quarter invested a total of $2.3 million in 16 early-stage companies. For fiscal year 2016 it approved $10 million for 51 companies across southeastern Pennsylvania, up from $8.9 million in 2015.

Last quarter, Ben Franklin made seven of its deals with companies in the information technology sector, totaling $1 million, or 44 percent of its total investment. About 62 percent of the investment went to new companies, with most investments in companies based in Philadelphia and Delaware counties.

The investments give us a guide for what’s up next in the region, and looking at this list, it’s clear that companies in the health space are still a driving force.

Here are the 16 companies Ben Franklin invested in (one of them made our Startups to Watch list): Read more »

Q&A: Healthcare IT to Enter an Intense Period of Innovation in Philly

From left to right: David Luk, principal at Safeguard Scientifics; Scott Nissenbaum, chief investment officer at Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Tom Olenzak, managing director, strategic innovation portfolios at Independence Blue Cross at PSL's Founder Factory. Image courtesy of Safeguard Scientifics.

Left to right: David Luk, principal at Safeguard Scientifics; Scott Nissenbaum, chief investment officer at Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Tom Olenzak, managing director of strategic innovation portfolios at Independence Blue Cross at PSL’s Founder Factory. | Image courtesy of Safeguard Scientifics.

Last week, three of the Philadelphia region’s biggest players made a major announcement at PSL’s Founder Factory. Philly’s veteran venture firm, Safeguard ScientificsIndependence Health Group, the parent company of Independence Blue Cross; and venture firm Ben Franklin Technology Partners announced a $6 million funding initiative to support local, early-stage health IT startups over the next four years. The digital health startups selected for funding can receive anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million, and will also be mentored by the partners as they grow.

The initiative is an effort to “fuel Philadelphia’s innovative digital health ecosystem,” the partners said in a release. BizPhilly sat down with David Luk, a principal at Safeguard, to find out exactly why this initiative is being launched now and what it means for Philadelphia’s digital health landscape moving into 2017. Luk also shares why the team decided to focus on early-stage startups, a shift from Safeguard’s usual Series A and Series B financing. Read more »

Can Philly Become a Hub of the “Impact Economy”?

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Representatives from local businesses network at the launch of ImpactPHL | Photo by Brian Thomas

Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners and the Economy League announced yesterday the launch of ImpactPHL, a new initiative designed to bring socially conscious investors and startups together.

The goal of the initiative is to increase investment in impact companies and organizations in Greater Philadelphia by increasing awareness of what the impact economy is and what it can do, the organization says.

So what is the impact economy? The group defines it as “doing well while doing good,” meaning that investors will see a return while also supporting companies that are working to help their community.

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The State’s Biggest Tech Investor Wants to Clear Things Up: ‘We Are Not Venture Capitalists.’

“Ben Franklin Technology Partners invested $750,000 in three digital health companies in its third quarter."

“Ben Franklin Technology Partners invested $750,000 in three digital health companies in its third quarter.” istockphoto.com / Jan Otto

Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, the group that invested $8.9 million in local technology-based companies last year is doing something new – it is trying to clear up its public perception.

The conglomerate of partners that has invested in Philadelphia-based companies (and companies of the surrounding Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties) for over three decades says it’s losing out now because people just don’t have the right idea about them.

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