Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA and ImpactPHL Advance Tech Startups, Create Positive Impact in Greater Philadelphia Region
Regional Innovation Strategies grantee Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin) launched ImpactPHL Ventures in July 2017 to boost growth of impact-focused startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.
ImpactPHL Ventures is a $15 million dollar collaborative that unites existing impact investors with other seasoned investors who have incorporated social outcomes into their investment performance criteria. Led by Ben Franklin, initial partners include Spring Point Partners, Investors’ Circle, Drexel University, Temple University, Safeguard Scientifics, Independence Health Group, and the Bucks County Retirement Board.
The new funding initiative was made possible with support from a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant awarded back in 2015.
Funding from the EDA grant supported Ben Franklin’s efforts to research and develop a strategy to accelerate growth of impact-focused companies in Greater Philadelphia, while at the same time socialize support for impact investment activity critical to economic growth of the region.
As Ben Franklin developed its structure for an impact investing product, it initiated the formation of ImpactPHL, an organization of regional stakeholders specifically committed to increasing investment in impact companies and organizations in Greater Philadelphia by accelerating development and awareness of the region’s impact economy. ImpactPHL’s launch in July 2016 established a “front door” for early stage ventures, investors, active businesses, and the community at large, to learn about, adopt and celebrate best practices of the impact economy. The organization helps advance companies focused on addressing modern societal challenges present in the region and worldwide.
After a year of community momentum behind ImpactPHL’s formation, Ben Franklin launched ImpactPHL Ventures in July 2017. ImpactPHL Ventures has since allowed Ben Franklin to infuse social impact into its daily investment process and the region’s impact consciousness at large, while attracting co-investors’ capital. ImpactPHL Ventures has served as an energizing vehicle to access capital sources to invest in companies tackling social problems as well as a way to engage a growing market of entrepreneurs. In its first 18 months, its partners committed more than $2.2 million of investments into nine impact-focused ventures, tackling problems as varied as the health results of preterm infants, improved workforce outcomes for autistic youth, and improved college retention rates.
“ImpactPHL Ventures is a capital resource for the increasing number of innovative, technology solutions we’re seeing from young entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference,” said RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Ben Franklin. “We’re so pleased for the EDA’s assistance in helping Ben Franklin and its partners support the growing momentum around impact investment for our region.”
Beyond direct investments, this focus garnered continued attention to social impact across the Ben Franklin portfolio and in the ways the organization prioritizes efforts to grow young ventures. In a recent news series, ImpactAlpha recognized this work as one of 18 revivalists nationwide, recognizing Ben Franklin for its emphasis on social impact investment opportunities and growing the ranks of women and minority entrepreneurs tackling these challenges.