Startups
Funding / Investing / Startups

The new $28M GO PA Fund means collaboration between all 4 Ben Franklin Tech Partners, led by Philly

The fund comes amid a uniquely innovation-minded moment for Pennsylvania, said Scott Nissenbaum, head of the statewide org's southeastern arm.

The HQ of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. (Julie Zeglen/Technical.ly)

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is leaning into statewide collaboration with the other Bens and state government with the new Global Opportunity Pennsylvania (GO PA) Fund II.

The Philadelphia-area arm of the state-backed investment network announced the fund’s initial close this week after raising $28 million.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, headquartered in Philly’s Navy Yard, and Lancaster-based Fulton Bank are anchor investors. Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, WSFS Bank, Robin Hood Ventures and Investors Circle also contributed.

This fund takes after a previous fund the Philly Ben created to support portfolio companies in southeastern Pennsylvania: the 2019-launched Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund, aka GO Philly. That fund made 18 investments in 11 companies in its home region — some of which have reached almost $100 million in revenue over the past few years, Scott Nissenbaum, president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, told Technical.ly.

Nissenbaum cited digital health management company Tridiuum as one of the successes from that earlier fund. The company was acquired for $100 million less than a year after receiving a maintenance investment from the GO Philly Fund, he said.

“Ben Franklin made a good return that will be recycled back into the community from our not-for-profit investment,” Nissenbaum said. “And we made an even bigger return from the for-profit that goes back to the not-for-profit to be recycled.”

The new GO PA fund is in collaboration with the three other Ben Franklin organizations across Pennsylvania — Ben Franklin of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, and Innovations Works of Southwestern Pennsylvania, headquartered in Pittsburgh. The growth-stage venture fund will be used to invest in technology companies that are part of Ben Franklin’s statewide portfolio.

The initial goal was to raise more money for GO PA than GO Philly had raised, $24.3 million. With that milestone hit, the next goal is to raise more than $50 million, and eventually $100 million.

The fund will make investments between $1 million and $5 million in each company, depending on the eventual total size of the fund.

Margaret Berger-Bradley, VP of strategic initiatives for Ben Franklin, sees GO PA as a reminder that there are a lot of opportunities to invest in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

“It’s just to remind people that there is something to invest in back at home,” she said during a panel at 1Philadelphia’s Innovation Weekend. “Don’t just put your money in a market that goes all over the world, invest back in.”

Over the next year, the Philly-based Ben Franklin will continue to look for institutional investors. The organization also plans to hire a full-time investment professional to focus on the fund, map out the portfolio, and build relationships with portfolio managers, companies and co-investors.

Not only are all four Ben Franklins working together to build GO PA, they are also working with the State of Pennsylvania, where a majority of the org’s funding comes from. It’s a good deal for the government, per Nissenbaum: “For every dollar the state has given us, they’ve gotten back $4 independently verified, on average, over 30 years across all four Bens,” he said.

Nissenbaum is also optimistic about the collaborative work to come with the state government. He’s been with Ben Franklin for eight years, and the Shapiro administration has been the “most forward-thinking administration in terms of innovation and economic development.” Rick Siger, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, and Ben Kirshner, chief transformation and opportunity officer, have been supportive of Ben Franklin’s work, too, he said.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Innovation Works (Pittsburgh) / Ben Franklin Technology Partners / State of Pennsylvania

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

9 don't-miss events for technologists and entrepreneurs this July

Philadelphia Police are investigating vandalism at the home of a Ghost Robotics exec and the company’s Penn HQ

Top 3 vital trends founders should know before pitching investors in 2024

An OpenAI advisor wants to help tech leaders embrace the humanities

Technically Media