Lehigh alum R. Chadwick Paul, Jr. ’76 ’78G received the 2016 Farrington Award for Outstanding Commitment to Entrepreneurship at Lehigh earlier this month at the Innovate! Celebrate! awards dinner hosted by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.
Alita Friedman ’87, last year’s winner, presented Paul with the award, named in honor of Lehigh’s 12th president, Gregory Farrington, a champion for entrepreneurship education.
Lisa Getzler, co-executive director of Lehigh’s Baker Institute, said she couldn’t have been more pleased than to honor Paul with this year’s award. “His incredible generosity toward Lehigh student entrepreneurs and ongoing support of the Baker Institute and our related programs make him the perfect Farrington Award recipient,” Getzler said.
Paul is president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a state-funded economic development organization that invests in early-stage technology firms and established manufacturers to create and retain highly paid, sustainable jobs in the region.
Over the years, Paul has supported student learning at Lehigh in a multitude of ways, but since the launch of the Baker Institute in 2010, “he has provided Lehigh student entrepreneurs with access to the real world of startups through introductions to the Ben Franklin network, expertise of his staff, and generous use of the Ben Franklin TechVentures conference facilities by faculty and students,” Getzler said.
“Chad’s long history of entrepreneurship and key role in creating the Ben Franklin TechVentures facility at Lehigh University exemplify the spirit of the Farrington Award,” added Friedman, a 1987 Lehigh alumna and chief executive brand officer of premier consulting house Alita’s Brand Bar.
“Chad has been successfully providing a gold-standard platform for incubators' research, networking and mentorship, thereby facilitating innovation and the advancement of technology,” Friedman said.
Paul has started, secured investments for and facilitated the merger of nearly two dozen companies. He has mentored developing and seasoned entrepreneurs and championed key regional infrastructure initiatives throughout his long and distinguished career.
Paul founded Chadwick Telephone in 1976 while still earning his MBA from Lehigh. He served as its president and CEO, building the company from a startup to a significant multi-state corporation through 1997, when the company was merged with a public company.
Paul led the development of Ben Franklin TechVentures, a business incubator/post-incubator facility that opened on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus in 2007 and expanded in 2011 in response to burgeoning demand. Ben Franklin TechVentures addresses the region’s need for wet lab and incubator space, which is crucial to early-stage technology firms. Winner of two National Business Incubation Association’s Incubator of the Year Awards, Ben Franklin TechVentures leads the 10-member Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network in northeastern Pennsylvania that is among the largest such networks in the United States.
As CEO of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Paul has provided substantial and ongoing opportunities for Lehigh students to obtain real-world experience from Ben Franklin client companies, to the mutual benefit of the students and companies. Under his leadership, Ben Franklin has linked clients with or supported Lehigh’s Enterprise Systems Center, Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone (formerly Integrated Product Development) program, Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics, VENTURESeries and the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone.
Luminaries attending the Innovate! Celebrate! awards dinner included longtime generous supporters of entrepreneurship at Lehigh, Joan F. Thalheimer and John M. Thalheimer ’55. Also attending were Dorothy H. Baker, wife of Baker Institute benefactor and namesake Dexter F. Baker ’50 ’57G ’81H, and their daughters Carol Baker and Ellen Ghelardi, as well as entrepreneur alumni Scott Belair ’69, Urban Outfitters co-founder, and Michael Levin ’87, founder and CEO of Vericred, Inc. Lehigh President John Simon, Provost Patrick V. Farrell and other senior Lehigh leaders also attended.
In addition to the Farrington Award, outstanding Lehigh student entrepreneurs and innovators received more than $77,500 in cash and in-kind prizes recognizing their achievements at the event, which featured exhibits of student products and inventions.
Story by Amy White and Laura Eppler