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U.S. Department of Commerce Grants $300,000 to 1855 Capital Project

The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA (Ben Franklin), 1855 Capital Fund I, L.P. (1855 Capital) and The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) have been awarded a $300,000 grant through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. Ben Franklin will use this grant for the benefit of 1855 Capital to form and operate the Fund.

Headquartered in State College, 1855 Capital is a venture capital fund with a goal of providing support to technology-focused entrepreneurs located throughout Pennsylvania and beyond, with a focus on companies emerging from the Penn State community.

“Penn State’s entrepreneurial community presents many significant innovations that deserve broad support;” said Matt Rhodes, Managing Director of 1855 Capital. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with Ben Franklin to support Penn State’s Invent Penn State initiative and to provide local, hands-on support for these entrepreneurs while advancing economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.”

The goal of Ben Franklin is to spur economic growth in the Central Pennsylvania region. “Ben Franklin works diligently to provide resources to the many promising start-ups emerging from the central Pennsylvania ecosystem,” said Stephen Brawley, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Center of Central and Northern PA, “Having 1855 Capital participate in our region adds a sharp and effective tool to our regional toolbox.”

“The Trump Administration is committed to strengthening U.S. production and exports, which are essential to our nation’s economic growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These projects will enable entrepreneurs in communities across the United states to start new businesses, manufacture innovative products, and export them throughout the world – increasing America’s global competitiveness.”

“We are very pleased that EDA is helping fuel entrepreneurship, tech transfer, and economic development in central Pennsylvania,” said Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s Vice President for Research, “1855 Capital will provide vitally needed capital to new startup companies working to commercialize Penn State discoveries, technologies and processes.”

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), leads the Regional Innovation Strategies Program to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. The program is authorized through the America COMPETES reauthorization Act of 2010, and has received dedicated appropriations since FY2014.

Forty-two organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 28 states received over $17 million to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds through RIS.

This fourth cohort of Regional Innovation Strategies awardees expands the RIS portfolio to eight new states and continues to build vibrant regional entrepreneurial economies. The awardees were selected from a pool of more than 217 applicants.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA is a nonprofit corporation, and the most active early stage investor in Central Pennsylvania. For nearly 35 years, it has provided investment capital and business support services to tech-based startups and small manufacturers located in a 32-county footprint in Pennsylvania.

To learn more about the Regional Innovation Strategies program and the awardee projects, visit and the FAQs. To learn more about Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, visit To learn more about 1855 Capital Fund, visit