Allentown Business Incubator Broadens Program Offering for Startups


Allentown, Pennsylvania — On Monday, February 1st, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) announced an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program that has been added to its business incubation program at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. AEDC has named Karen Campbell, of Strix Insights Consulting, as the first person to fill the role in the new program.

“We are very excited to have Ms. Campbell on board as our first Entrepreneur-in-Residence,” said Scott Unger, Executive Director of AEDC. “Karen’s experience and knowledge in business development, market analysis, and team building will be invaluable to our early-stage companies.”

Karen Campbell joins the business incubation program at AEDC after a long career at Air Products and Chemicals that covered a wide variety of commercial roles. Campbell’s most recent position was managing an organization providing global business and technology analysis that supported strategic marketing and business development decisions. She spent most of her career at Air Products in new ventures where she commercialized new technologies; managed the idea pipeline evaluating research and development activities for commercial value; developed go-to-market strategies; worked with startups as key partners for acquisition, licensing and co-development; and shuttered projects not meeting expected valuation criteria.

Upon her departure from Air Products, Campbell brought her expertise to the Lehigh Valley chapter of SCORE, the SBA funded all-volunteer corps of executives that provides mentorship to small businesses and startups across the country. Through SCORE, she is helping companies to do everything from transforming ideas into business plans, to developing marketing strategies, and creating succession plans for their companies.

“I had the opportunity to meet Karen through our interactions with Lehigh Valley SCORE last year,” explains Anthony Durante, Program Manager of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center for AEDC. “I was thoroughly impressed with her credentials and with the way she interacted with one of the clients who we had referred to SCORE for some assistance. When we decided to create the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, Karen was the first person I thought of to fill the role.”

As the Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Campbell will assist incubator clients with taking strategic goals and developing tactical plans to execute upon. The program capitalizes on the expertise that seasoned executives, like Campbell, bring to the table in order to drive the early-stage companies towards growth. With her assistance, companies will develop detailed marketing plans, strategically grow their executive teams, and build out processes that spur revenue creation and sales growth.

“We are continuing our efforts to focus our incubation program almost exclusively on rapidly growing the sales pipeline of these companies,” says Durante. “The survival of these startups depends entirely on generating revenue and moving the company towards profitability.”

“I’m excited to be a part of the Bridgeworks incubator program and look forward to working with its entrepreneurs,” says Campbell. “I believe that in the Entrepreneur-in-Residence role I can help them accelerate their success by sharing my experience and applying some of the innovation methodologies I have used successfully.”

As a volunteer working with Bridgeworks incubator clients, Campbell will have a semi-private office in the Bridgeworks Flex Launch & Coworking space that she can also use as a base for her consulting practice. Campbell has committed to working with AEDC clients for the next six months. Durante says at that time, AEDC and/or Campbell can either choose to end the agreement or to renew.

It is also not uncommon for an entrepreneur-in-residence to launch a company of their own or join one of the existing incubator clients that they make take a particular interest in. “As we examined this type of program at other incubators, we saw examples where an entrepreneur-in-residence had stepped into the role of CEO for a portfolio company that was having leadership issues,” explains Durante. “We also saw a case where the entrepreneur-in-residence had expertise in a specific industry that the founding team was missing and that individual ultimately joined the startup, helping it grow exponentially faster than it had been.”


About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

AEDC is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to a mission of identifying, encouraging, developing and managing strategic business opportunities for the benefit of Allentown, its citizens, and the Lehigh Valley. Its goal is to improve vacant and underutilized properties by assisting manufacturers, business owners and entrepreneurs in obtaining the resources and opportunities they require for success in the City of Allentown. AEDC offers access to financing and incentives, assistance with brownfield remediation, and support for growing businesses within the City.

Over the course of its 27-year existence, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, founded in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A in 1989, has helped launch more than 70 companies in Allentown that have created more than 300 jobs. It is a member of the Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. Today, the Center is home to Architrep, ColdEdge Technologies, The Colony Meadery, County Seat Spirits, HiJinx Brewing Company, JH Plastics, LightLab International Allentown, MTS Ventures, Polymer Contours and Zzyzx Polymers.

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