Ben Franklin Tech Partners just pumped more than $1M into these local companies - Technical.ly Philly

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Nov. 20, 2019 12:16 pm

Ben Franklin Tech Partners just pumped more than $1M into these local companies

Six companies that represent "standouts in their field," including IT, health and physical sciences, received funding from the Navy Yard-based, state-backed investor group.
Exyn Technologies’ drone.

Exyn Technologies' drone.

(Courtesy photo)

Navy Yard-based, state-backed investor group Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania announced last week that over the last few months, it had invested more than $1 million into area tech and science companies.

The $1,050,000 was spread across six companies, Ben Franklin comms VP Jason Bannon told Technical.ly, and that the companies chosen for investments were “standouts in their field.” The companies work across IT, health and physical sciences fields.

CromaTan, a Montgomery County-based biotech company, received $250,000. The company solves “a major process bottleneck in therapeutic protein production while significantly lowering the cost of goods for biotech and contract manufacturing companies,” it said.

The company first received a funding grant from Ben Franklin in 2010, and received funding from the organization again in 2011 and 2013.

Exyn Technologies, a spinout of University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab, uses drones and ground-based robots to collect data from places where maps and GPS don’t exist. The company raised a $16 million Series A earlier this year, and Ben Franklin invested $200,000 this quarter.

Four tech companies — LeagueSide, Route Dynamics, Kognition and Employee Cycle — split the remaining $600,000 in investments. Ben Franklin did not share how much each company received.

Center City-based LeagueSide’s tech platform connects local and national sponsors with youth sports leagues across the county. This year, the four-year-old company moved into its own office, and has been growing its team.

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Route Dynamics, based in Montgomery County, is the “dominant provider of dynamic route optimization services to aviation fleet operators,” the company said. The company launched its flagship product, SmartRoutes, earlier this year.

Manayunk-based Kognition, a smart property open source platform that uses AI and machine learning, was founded in 2017 and allows “buildings to see, think, act and learn on their own responding to security, property activities, surveillance, logistics, environmental, energy, and maintenance issues,” it said.

And two-time HR-tech entrepreneur Bruce Marable launched platform Employee Cycle last month, saying the product comes at a time where human resources professionals are looking more and more to data to handle “people operations.”

The dashboard works with small- and medium-sized companies under 1,000 employees to transform disparate data into a centralized and real-time HR analytics dashboard.

“We wanted to make it as easy and user-friendly as possible because the real goal is for the data to inform you to be able to go do the hard people work,” Marable told us in October.

In fiscal year 2019, 46 companies in the southeastern region received $7.2 million from Ben Franklin, it reported in September. This latest round of funding comes a few months after its blockchain-enabled Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund made its first two investments in local tech companies, but also, after Ben Franklin attracted attention for its shrunken state funding support over the past decade.

Despite operating with half its previous state allocation, “we’re still doing business the way we do our business,” Bannon said via email. “We certainly have to look more carefully than we had to. We have to be responsible, but we’re still doing our thing. We’re still acting as Ben Franklin always acts.”

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