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State DCED chief Walker hands out Marcellus Shale innovation grants

DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker speaks about an award being given to the Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center on Monday at KCF Technologies in State College.
DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker speaks about an award being given to the Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center on Monday at KCF Technologies in State College. CDT photo

State Secretary of Community and Economic Development C. Alan Walker came to State College on Monday to announce a grant award aimed at stimulating natural gas innovations.

The Ben Franklin Technology Center of Central and Northern Pennsylvania was awarded $750,000 for the Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center, a project that promotes new technology and other growth in the field. That money came from DCED’s Discovered in PA-Developed in PA program.

“Gov. (Tom) Corbett said it best: Energy equals jobs for Pennsylvanians, and there are endless possibilities for new growth related to energy,” Walker said. “Marcellus Shale presents a unique opportunity for Pennsylvania companies and entrepreneurs to develop new technologies to increase productivity and environmental safety.”

The shale center will, in turn, use that money to nurture companies in the growth of new and emerging technology. According to the state, those funds will be available statewide, with the goal of creating “high-paying, sustainable jobs in the commonwealth.”

The first of those grants also was announced Monday.

KCF Technologies Inc. received $20,000 from the shale center to help bring its SmartDiagnostics program to market. While the grants were being announced at the company’s State College offices, the system was being installed at Universal Well Services in Punxsutawney. Once up and running, KCF officials said it will monitor problems and communicate them remotely.

“Our technology gives a machine a voice,” said Chief Operating Officer David Shannon. He said the system allows for safer operation of machinery, shielding employees from danger, while also identifying problems before they cause costly repairs and downtime.

The grant funds require a matching investment from the companies awarded. John Siggins, the shale center’s assistant director, said the terms of the state grant require a minimum dollar-for-dollar match, but that the group hopes to see $3 invested for every one it hands out.

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