This has been a monumental year for us at Ben Franklin Technology Partners. We’ve had our largest quarterly investment to date , we’ve launched new programs, added new people to the team, and hosted a little thing we like to call the PHL Innovation Picnic. Here are just a few things that have made 2017 a year of growth and connection for us.
We concentrated efforts on bringing more capital to the region through programs that focus on partnerships and relationship building. For example, the First Meeting Program helps entrepreneurs develop relationships with local and national institutional investors and corporations. Exclusively for Ben Franklin portfolio companies, the program leverages the strength of our connections to facilitate key early conversations with potential sources of capital and partnership.
In line with expanding our network, we announced a new affiliation with the DVN Beta program of Draper Venture Network, a self-governed organization of global independent venture funds. The network is a robust venture collective that brings together experienced investors and innovative entrepreneurs from across sectors and continents to share strategies, source opportunities, and create greater value. Ben Franklin’s affiliation will allow our portfolio companies access to that network in hopes of forging partnerships and opportunity for our portfolio companies.
We’ve expanded our co-investment partnerships, and as a result, created two new funding initiatives: ImpactPHL Ventures and Chesco Ventures. ImpactPHL Ventures is a $15M collaborative to grow early-stage technology companies focused on social, environmental, and health-focused impact, in Greater Philadelphia. In addition we’ve partnered with the Chester County Retirement Board, to invest $4M in emerging and growing companies located in, or willing to locate to, Chester County. Great companies continue to grow thanks to VC4BC, AWE Ventures, KeyBank, Drexel Ventures, Temple Ventures, Independence Blue Cross, and Safeguard Scientifics.
Being your partner with a purpose also means creating programming and initiatives that help our portfolio companies grow and establish new connections. One of the ways we’ve done this is through Project Liberty. In January 2017, we initiated a new call for companies for Project Liberty, in partnership with the Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), the parent company to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com. The incubator hosts tech companies that can offer products to support PMN’s efficiency and connect with communities and subscribers, while participating start-ups use PMN’s physical workspace and the established media platform as a test bed.
In April, we launched a three month program, the Ben Franklin Fintech Accelerator in collaboration with DC-based venture capital firm, Village Capital. The Accelerator combined award-winning curriculum and a peer-review investment process with unprecedented access to a who’s who of decision makers from the Philadelphia region’s finance sector.
In the same spirit as the FinTech Accelerator, with Village Capital and its partner UBS, we announced Village Capital Pathways. Village Capital Pathways provides training for African American, Latinx, and women founders to decipher what it takes for their ventures to be competitive for early-stage investment and engagement with strategic partners. In 2018, we will be providing selected high-growth businesses with the opportunity to participate in the three-month long program where they can receive small grants, incentive awards, and tangible business support.
While 2017 has been a year of growth and connection, in 2018 we plan to continue supporting our companies and the region. To learn more about any of these programs, visit our initiatives page.