Philly’s Impact Economy to Get $15M Boost With ImpactPHL Ventures

ImpactPHL Ventures initial funding partners.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners celebrated the one-year anniversary of its ImpactPHL investment collaborative on Thursday with the unveiling of its largest funding initiative to date: a $15 million follow-up project in line with ImpactPHL’s mission to assist early-stage companies that address social, environmental, and health problems.

Thanks to its seven initial funding partners, Ben Franklin’s new ImpactPHL Ventures will allow the tech investment powerhouse to assist Philadelphia’s impact economy more than ever before. ImpactPHL was initially created after the release of the 2016 report “Growing the Impact Economy Of Greater Philadelphia.” The report, put together by Ben Franklin and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, pointed to a number of regional factors that make the area the perfect breeding ground for a national standout impact economy. Included was an outline of five key objectives for ImpactPHL, beginning with advocacy and promotion and ending with research and education.

“Investing for regional economic impact has always been core to Ben Franklin’s mission. With ImpactPHL Ventures we are adding a focus and assessment of an enterprise’s social impact” RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, president and CEO of Ben Franklin, told Philadelphia magazine.  Read more »

I Love My Job: Ben Franklin Tech Partners CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal. Courtesy photo.

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal has been at the helm of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania — one of country’s leading tech-focused economic development institutions — since 1996. That’s an impressive stint, and the leader’s got tons to show for it. Under Rosenthal’s guidance, the organization’s profile as a catalyst for local tech development has risen, and so too has the region’s position as an emerging entrepreneurial hub. Most recently, Rosenthal helped create and launch the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, a model that funds digital enterprises in Philly’s strongest industry. Ben Franklin already has over 200 tech companies in its current portfolio, and with Rosenthal’s lead, the organization is taking even more in through bold, new initiatives like ImpactPHL Ventures and a Fintech Accelerator. As the region readies for more growth, Rosenthal tells us the ventures she has her eyes on and what an entrepreneur must do to get her attention. And because she has over 45 years of experience in a competitive, continually changing industry, she’s got some real lessons on work-life balance, being a woman in charge, and staying grounded.  Read more »

Scenes From the Inaugural PHL Innovation Picnic

Thursday evening could not have been a more perfect time for Philadelphia’s innovation crowd to descend upon the Navy Yard to bask in the sun and in the glory of how much the community has grown.

Posted up at a picnic table all night was Cloudamize CEO Bob Moul, who managed to get nearly everyone to buy the tech community’s hottest, most coveted item: the #TEaCH shirt. There was PACT president & CEO Dean Miller, who between sips of his Dock Street beverage, managed to drop some serious knowledge on the tech tax to anyone who would lend an ear. He even informed attendees that the night’s event, in fact, wasn’t the first time the community organized an innovation picnic. About ten years ago, Safeguard Scientifics, with its own version of Sand Hill Road, brought the innovation community together out in the burbs. So the picnic was basically born out of nostalgia and the team’s effort to resurrect the gathering of the past. And then there were the folks like Technically Philly’s lead reporter Roberto Torres and pretty much the entire Stitch Data team who were high off of wins (or losses) in tug of war, Connect Four, hula hoopin’ and more.  Read more »

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


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.

Read more »

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


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”?


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.

Read more »

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