This guest blog was written by Ryan Glenn, Director of Statewide Initiatives for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. This year’s e.Builders Forum will be held at Ben Franklin Northeast in Bethlehem, PA, this October 2-3. 

Launched more than 40 years ago, Ben Franklin Technology Partners was ahead of its time. In 1983, with steel and other industries in decline, unemployment was high and Pennsylvania’s economy was reeling. The state needed a bridge between its struggling heavy manufacturing economy and the technology-based economy that would carry it forward. Enter Ben Franklin.

By every measure, the plan worked. Since its inception, the statewide network has boosted Pennsylvania’s economy by more than $30 billion, generating more than 58,000 jobs in client firms, plus an additional 101,000 spinoff positions, for a total of 159,000 new jobs that otherwise would never have existed — a remarkable achievement that not only speaks to the organization’s value, but one that also highlights its role as a catalyst for job creation and economic revitalization across the commonwealth.

At the heart of its success lies Ben Franklin’s ability to provide precisely tailored funding opportunities to propel entrepreneurs to commercial success. Recognizing the financial hurdles associated with research, development, and market entry, the organization offers early-stage capital and seed funding that empowers entrepreneurs to overcome these challenges. Ben Franklin becomes a lifeline for early-stage and established companies, offering essential funding, business acumen, and access to an expansive network of resources.

What truly sets Ben Franklin apart is its dedication to nurturing entrepreneurs from various angles. Beyond financial support, the initiative surrounds its clients with a team of experts in fields ranging from accounting and finance to marketing and supply chain management. These experts, armed with decades of experience, become invaluable partners for entrepreneurs navigating the complexities of business growth.

Mentorship, a cornerstone of Ben Franklin’s approach, bridges the gap between innovation and strategic execution. The organization’s expansive network grants these entrepreneurs access to industry veterans who offer not only strategic guidance but also technical expertise and invaluable connections. This mentorship web becomes a safe space for entrepreneurs to refine their ideas and transform them into tangible market-ready solutions.

Infrastructure, often a bottleneck for startups, becomes a non-issue thanks to Ben Franklin’s provision of state-of-the-art facilities, laboratories, and equipment. Entrepreneurs can now focus on refining, testing, and showcasing their technologies, thereby expediting the commercialization process.

Education, too, plays a pivotal role in Ben Franklin’s ecosystem. Workshops and educational programs covering areas like marketing, technology transfer, and intellectual property protection equip entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the intricate web of technology commercialization. This investment in education ultimately fosters a generation of entrepreneurs capable of driving Pennsylvania’s economy forward.

Year after year, investments by Ben Franklin continue to pay huge dividends for Pennsylvania. According to the statewide initiative’s “2022 Annual Statewide Impact Report,” Ben Franklin clients generated $2.4 billion in revenue and secured $1.1 billion in post-Ben Franklin financing. Overall, the tech-based economic development program supported 2,018 companies and helped clients create nearly 1,508 jobs while retaining 10,145 more positions.

The multifaceted support system championed by Ben Franklin Technology Partners has emerged as a linchpin for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to usher their technological innovations into the market. Through a seamless integration of financial backing, mentorship, cutting-edge infrastructure, and comprehensive educational initiatives, Ben Franklin has not only transformed entrepreneurial dreams into reality but also solidified Pennsylvania’s position in an increasingly high-tech world. As the initiative continues to champion innovation, it undeniably paves the way for the state’s sustained economic success.

Join entrepreneur support professionals from across the country at this event to learn about the successful strategies Ben Franklin and other ESOs across the state and region have used to foster innovation and help startups thrive. Register now for the e.Builders Forum happening this fall!