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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Philly Tech Loved SXSW. SXSW Loved Philly Tech Back

Photos | Ken Rimple

Photos | Ken Rimple

The Philadelphia tech and startup scene made its way down to Austin last week for South by Southwest — better known as SXSW. As an interactive-focused conference-turned-festival, SXSW is one of the largest gatherings of leaders and organizations spanning the technological, design and creative realms.

For the first time this year, a concerted effort has been made to spread the message of Philadelphia’s growing tech culture and the vibrant innovation coming from our region — and what better place to do so than right at SXSW. With that goal in mind, a solid group of Philadelphia’s tech leaders decided to head south and represent the great things brewing in Philadelphia’s emerging tech scene. So, why, exactly, did 10 companies and close to 200 Philadelphians (including Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, Zivtech, my own Chariot Solutions, and others) decide it was worth the time, effort, and money to make the trek to Texas? Read more »

Report: Pa. Ranks Eighth in Tech Employment

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 11.14.31 AM

Pennsylvania ranks eighth among U.S. states for the size of its tech-oriented workforce, a new report says.

The Cyberstates 2016 report was produced by CompTIA. It said there were 228,754 tech workers in the state, making an average wage of $92,179. That average wage ranked 18th among the states.

Still, the tech sector’s growth in 2015 was much slower here than nationally — just a 0.6 percent growth in Pennsylvania compared to 3 percent nationwide. And while wages grew by 1.2 percent nationally, they declined a bit in Pennsylvania, by 0.1 percent. The state jus about kept up with patent growth, though, raising that rate by 8.2 percent — the national rate was 8.4 percent. Read more »

Comcast Buys Philly Tech Company to Capitalize on Sports Stat Craze

OneTwoSee co-founder Chris Reynolds and Preston Smalley, vice president of product, sports & X1 Apps for Comcast.

Done deal: OneTwoSee co-founder Chris Reynolds and Preston Smalley, vice president of product, sports & X1 Apps for Comcast in front of the Comcast tower in Center City.

In today’s era of Netflix, on-demand programming, and recorded TV shows, nobody is really watching live television — unless it’s sports. In fact, 93 percent of the top 100 live TV programs were sports content, according to a 2015 Nielsen report. In 2005, sports only made up 14 percent of live viewership.

Nobody knows this better than Comcast, a company that’s investing big dollars to make sports viewing a better experience for the viewer. Today Comcast announced that it has purchased Philly tech company OneTwoSee — the business that provides the statistics behind its X1 Sports App. Financial terms of the deal were not released. Read more »

Two Philly Colleges Among Best at Bridging Gap Between Humans and Computers

Drexel -Phila U

While technology is made to advance, it’s also made to be accessible. UX Design, an emerging field of computer science and engineering, is closing the gap between humans and computers, allowing new innovations to be comprehensible, constructive and coherent. These platforms include User Interface (UI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Human-Centered Computing.

Graduate schools across the country are working hard to improve human-computer interaction — and Philadelphia colleges are no different. Now two schools in Philly have been ranked in the Top 50 Best Value UX Design Graduate Programs of 2016 by Value Colleges. Read more »

Comcast Slams FCC’s Cable Box Ruling

 

Would you buy one of these from a company not named Comcast, Verizon or Time Warner Cable?

Would you buy one of these from a company not named Comcast, Verizon or Time Warner Cable?

Comcast Vice President David L. Cohen is lashing out at the FCC after it voted to move forward with a proposal to allow customers to get cable TV set-top boxes from third-party vendors. That would certainly shake up the cable TV industry. Currently, customers can only get set-top boxes from providers like Comcast or Time Warner Cable and those typically come with a rental fee. In fact, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn noted at the FCC meeting that the cost of a set-top box has risen at more than three times the rate of inflation costing American families more than $200 per year.

The rule change isn’t a done deal yet. Now comes a lengthy comment period followed by a final vote in a few months. Read more »

6 Seriously Cool Health Care Innovations Ready to Prove Their Worth

UC Science Center Accelerator

From left: Christina Lopes of the One Health Company; Saurabh Radhakrishnan of GraphWear; and Michele Marcolongo of InvisALERT.

You can’t help but root for the companies in the latest class of the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator. A patch that analyzes sweat to measure dehydration? Using a smartphone to better treat burns and bruises? Enrolling pets in clinical trials for cutting-edge therapies? Yes please.

Six early-stage healthcare companies have been accepted into the second class of the UCSC health accelerator from a pool of 69 applicants. They’ll receive up to $50,000 in funding along with professional mentorship and networking opportunities with local insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and research institutions. During the 12-month program, they’ll also get membership to the Science Center’s Innovation Center @3401. Read more »

Philly Venture Capital Firm Closes $35 Million Fund

Rawpixel Ltd/iStock

Rawpixel Ltd/iStock

Think Philly doesn’t have serious funding sources for startup companies? Think again.

MissionOG has closed its first fund and has now has a cool $35 million under management. The Center City-based company typically invests $500,000 to $3 million initially into business-to-business startups.

It’s invested in 11 companies so far, including Philly-based Cloudamize, OneTwoSee and PeopleLinx. Some recent investments include joining a $3.25 million round for Dallas-based Solovis in January; and leading a $3.4 million series A round with Conshohocken, Pa.-based Journey Sales. Read more »

Study: More Girls Want STEM Careers Than Boys

Ronnachai Palas/Shutterstock

Ronnachai Palas/Shutterstock

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it work out?

Let’s hope it works out for the girls who took part in Fatherly.com’s recent nationwide survey. Forty-one percent of them responded that they wanted to have careers in the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. Just 32 percent of boys said they wanted a STEM career.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to the well-noted gap in gender representation in these fields. The most recent Census data shows that women make up only 24 percent of workers in STEM careers. Meanwhile, just 13 percent to 15 percent of software engineers are women — even though it’s one of the hottest fields in tech. Read more »

Latest Comcast Criticism: Pop-Up Ads to Buy Its Modems

Comcast

It’s been a few weeks since we heard a complaint about Comcast’s business practices — in fact, the company has been lauded for hiring new customer service reps to help smooth out its relationship and reputation. But maybe it was only a matter of time.

The latest criticism? That the company is pestering Internet customers who don’t use its modems to receive service. Consumerist reports that one customer — identified only as “BB” — is even receiving pop-up ads while he browses the web strongly warning him to “upgrade” to an Xfinity-issued modem. Read more »

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