$253 Million in Funding Raised for Local Life Sciences, Advanced Technology Companies

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EXTON, PA — Leveraging the Chester County Economic Development Council‘s Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n), which services life sciences and advanced technology companies in southeastern Pennsylvania, i2n client companies have now surpassed $250 million in funding raised.

“This translates to more than a thousand jobs created, hundreds of patents filed and tremendous downstream economic impact for the region,” says Patrick Hayakawa, Vice President of Innovation & Marketing at the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). “Through its services, i2n provides clients with the tools and connections needed to raise capital and deploy that capital to advance their growth. This milestone includes both grants and investors dollars that i2n companies have raised, and their success is a testament to this style of economic development.”

i2n was formed in 2012 out of the merger of the Chester and Delaware County Keystone Innovation Zones, and today serves more than 100 entrepreneurial and technology-based companies per year across southeastern Pennsylvania. Many of these companies presented to i2n’s acclaimed Board of Directors, are regular participants in the i2n Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable and used pitch feedback through i2n’s Open Coaching Program to attain funding of all types during their innovation journey from pre-formation to product launch and profitability. Sectors served include software, biotech, medical devices, digital health and clean tech.

“Individual i2n client companies not only benefit from up to $100,000 per year in Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) state tax credits, they also get an abundance of needed services available from i2n’s stakeholders, investors, educational institutions, experienced entrepreneurs and strategic advisors,” says Guy Fardone, i2n Board Chair and former CEO & Founding Partner of Evolve IP.

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Notable i2n client companies from the past and present include YPrime, VenatoRx, Evolve IP, Navrogen, Curotec, EigenX, Unilog Content Solutions and Melior Discovery.

Among the most recent successful venture capital raises are for Sweft, a Philadelphia-based company that automates the process of launching new products online for large e-commerce retailers.

Following their pitch to the i2n board and i2n pitch coaching, Sweft won “Best in Show” at PACT’s Phorum 2021 in April and is in the process of closing its most recent funding round at $750,000. Since June, Sweft has hired a Chief Technology Officer and Chief Revenue Officer. Sweft is currently interviewing for three software development positions.

Says first-time founder and Sweft CFO Julie Bula, a former retail executive at Free People, “Amazingly, some of the largest retailers in the country are still managing ​the workflow to populate online product ​detail pages through their own outdated Excel spreadsheets. It’s incredibly inefficient ​and costs them sales and margin. We automate that process.”

Bula credits i2n with providing the next-level pitching support that Sweft needed. “i2n really helped us to understand optimum ways to pitch, in an environment where you can get feedback from other potential investors and entrepreneurs. They helped us generate more buzz about our company in the local community, as well as put our best foot forward in the larger marketplace,” says Bula.

i2n client company SOLUtion Medical LLC is another recent success story. SOLUtion is developing a device that helps patients safely and efficiently inject life-saving medications that otherwise might take up to 14 user steps to pre-mix. First-time founder, president and chief strategy officer Julia Anthony was inspired by her own medical condition, as well as that of her brother. Both require a rescue autoinjector to treat Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.

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SOLUtion just successfully closed its seed round at $860,000 ($50,000 of which is undiluted from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), raised on a Convertible Note that was oversubscribed. SOLUtion Medical is currently focused on further testing ahead of submissions for FDA approval. The company has expanded its team with a new CEO, VP of CMC and Supply Chain, and Director of Innovation and Human Factors.

Says Anthony, “i2n was a great resource for fundraising, brainstorming, as well as partnerships and meeting other entrepreneurs in our space. Our pitch to the i2n board resulted in a relationship with a crucial contact in big pharma.”

i2n is a public-private partnership that provides access to funding, workspace, mentorship and key business connections. Funding support includes access to KIZ tax credits (up to $100,000 per year are sellable); pitching, coaching and business development strategy; state and federal R&D tax credits; guidance for SBIR and STTR applications; seed and bridge funding from a regional angel network of individual and group investors; $4 million from the Venture ChesCo fund for Chester County startups in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners; and small business loans through state and federal programs at low, fixed rates through Seedcopa.

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