During its December 2016 Board of Directors meeting, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA approved 11 company projects for funding, investing $835,129 in total. The organization announced the investments, which included five Centre County companies, on Thursday.
FairTech Labs, Atoptix, Sensor Networks, Persea Naturals and X Materials Processing received the funding.
Liz Wilson, Ben Franklin’s director of marketing and communications, said the board looks at the strength of management, the near-term plan for bringing the product to market and the jobs that will be created when reviewing applications.
“Without the existence of our program, a tech startup would have very few options for funding, other than friends and family,” Wilson said. “This is because a startup usually has no collateral and rarely is generating any revenue, which are two things that traditional investors need to see.”
FairTech Labs, a State College software engineering company, developed Shelf Scouter, which allows smaller, independent grocers to compete in the online space. The platform features a point-of-sale system and e-commerce grocery shopping services. The company received $100,000.
State College mobile optical spectroscopy company Atoptix has engineered a handheld plant health sensor for farmers. The sensor, which works with a smartphone, allows farmers to diagnose crop disease early. Atoptix received $75,000.
Sensor Networks, based in Boalsburg, is producing monitoring systems that measure metal loss due to corrosion for both on-land and offshore assets. Sensor Networks received $107,500 in funding.
Persea Naturals’ AvoColor brand, a natural food color additive, makes use of avocado seeds. The additive is water soluble and available in liquid or dry form. The State College company received $75,000 in funding.
State College metal 3-D-printing outfit X Materials Processing received $35,000. According to a release, the company produces cost-efficient metal 3-D printers.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP, the largest early-stage seed investor in the region, is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
“The Ben Franklin program is funded by the state and our goals are more related to economic development as opposed to a huge return on our investment,” Wilson said. “However, when a startup is successful and begins paying us back, that money is used to fund other projects.”