I Love My Job: Ben Franklin Tech Partners CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal has been at the helm of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania — one of country’s leading tech-focused economic development institutions — since 1996. That’s an impressive stint, and the leader’s got tons to show for it. Under Rosenthal’s guidance, the organization’s profile as a catalyst for local tech development has risen, and so too has the region’s position as an emerging entrepreneurial hub.

Most recently, Rosenthal helped create and launch the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, a model that funds digital enterprises in Philly’s strongest industry. Ben Franklin already has over 200 tech companies in its current portfolio, and with Rosenthal’s lead, the organization is taking even more in through bold, new initiatives like ImpactPHL Ventures and a Fintech Accelerator. As the region readies for more growth, Rosenthal tells us the ventures she has her eyes on and what an entrepreneur must do to get her attention. And because she has over 45 years of experience in a competitive, continually changing industry, she’s got some real lessons on work-life balance, being a woman in charge, and staying grounded.

I grew up in … South Philly, in the neighborhood that is now “Greater Central Philadelphia.” Who knew?

I currently live in … Northeast Philly. I’m wondering when the boundaries of Greater Central Philly will expand to include that area of town!

Something my parents taught me that I still follow today is … maintain your integrity.

My more than 45 years of experience in business investment, regional planning and economic development mean … I’ve have seen the region go through many changes and challenges. As a result, I’ve gained an appreciation both for the need to maintain a consistent focus on regional goals over an extended period to foster change, and for the willingness of so many to help drive that change.

I joined BFTP in the 90s when … its prior CEO took a position in D.C., and a valued friend and coach to me and to so many of our region’s life sciences entrepreneurs, the late Brenda Gavin, urged me to compete for the position and take on a new challenge.

At BFTP we say we’re more than venture capitalists because …we are! Our team fundamentally believes in our mission of growing our region; and, while we invest critical, hard-to-get seed capital, the investment is the start of a relationship that focuses on what that entrepreneur needs to succeed. The relationships last well longer than the terms of investments.

On the weekends you can find me … with my family, ideally having fun with my two granddaughters, Arielle Sofia, 4, and Ilana Naomi, 8 months.

The biggest trends in tech that have affected us here at BFTP include … the increasing variety of innovations and the fast pace at which they are being introduced.

The biggest tech trends we’re currently preparing for … are those that, when married to their ability to address social issues, will have the most lasting social impact. We see this with innovations in digital and predictive health and the recent, tremendous announcements in the region around cell and gene therapies. We recently launched ImpactPHL Ventures to invest in companies that are intentional about their commitment to growing a successful business that creates positive societal impact.

We launched ImpactPHL last year because … the region needs to showcase its vibrant and growing culture committed to doing well by doing good. We’re rich in having grass roots organizations, entrepreneurs, educational institutions, corporations, intermediaries, and now emerging investors, who are looking for ways to engage. ImpactPHL offers a front door and concrete actions to build on our region’s assets to attract capital and talent. Our region has a unique claim to this approach to solving problems and doing business…it was Ben Franklin, after all, who said “do well by doing good.” It’s in our DNA!

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