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Ben Frankin Tech Ventures honors best local tech companies

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: May 07 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 08 2013 07:12:24 AM CDT

You've probably never heard their names, but some of the world's most cutting-edge companies are right here in our area.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

You've probably never heard their names, but some of the world's most cutting-edge companies are right here in our area. Several of the best were honored Tuesday night in Bethlehem, but funding for similar start-ups is now in jeopardy.

It's one of the most invasive surgeries you can get, but a local company is taking the "open" out of open heart surgery.

"We gain access to the heart without cracking the chest or the ribs," said Michael Whitman, CEO of Micro Interventional Devices.

The Bucks Co. company developed Permaseal, a product that allows heart surgery through just a small cut between the ribs.

"It's looking like it's weeks of recovery reduction," said Whitman.

Tuesday night, Micro Interventional Devices was honored, along with four other cutting-edge ventures, at Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center. They all got their start through the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a state program which provides money, business advice, and even office space at their Bethlehem incubator site.

"Early-stage firms are largely in a race against insolvency," said Laura Eppler with Ben Franklin Technology Partners. "They need to ramp up quickly and they need to get into the black as quickly as possible."

Allentown-based Computer Aid is another major success story.

"We had the office in the basement of my house. We had some files and some filing cabinets in a car," said president Tony Salvaggio. "We have three thousand employees now … We have probably about 30 different locations."

But times are getting leaner for Ben Franklin. In the past few years, state lawmakers have cut its budget in half.

"It's been a real challenge for us to deliver frankly the great job creation and economic development results that we have in the past," said Eppler.

So in addition to honoring innovation, this night was about asking for help from Harrisburg.

More info: http://benfranklin.org/