5 Years of ImpactPHL Ventures: ‘Big Change can be Enabled with Key, Early Investments’

In 2016, Philadelphia’s economy was doing well by many traditional measures, boasting nine consecutive years of population growth, declining unemployment, increasing levels of educated residents, and a growing national reputation as a startup and technology hub.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners, having invested $200 million in more than 2,000 companies generating more than 32,000 jobs since 1983, was proud of its role, alongside so many regional partners, in seeing Philadelphia through challenging economic times to a slow but steady rise. That year, Ben itself was buzzing as it was entering its most prolific investing year ever.

Simultaneously, Ben was not blind to the deep, complex challenges facing the region and the people who call it home. Or, for that matter, the unintended systemic consequences that established and emerging tech ecosystems — like San Francisco or Austin — were experiencing across the country. Inequities within fast-growing and concentrated innovation hubs, unsustainable CO2 emissions, and other negative repercussions are (and continue to be) serious challenges related to technology’s acceleration. How could Philadelphia and Ben do more and better, leveraging technology beyond innovation, to model positive impact in this region and beyond?

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