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Five tech firms to watch

Central Pennsylvania has hundreds of young technology companies,
each trying to be the next Microsoft, Apple or PestPatrol. Some are
reshaping the way we entertain ourselves on our lunch hour. Others are
creating new support systems for medical research. The list of who’s
hot and who’s not shifts every year, so forecasting can be tricky. Here
are our picks of five young technology companies that appear headed for
more success. We list them chronologically, starting with the newest.

Central Pennsylvania has hundreds of young technology companies, each trying to be the next Microsoft, Apple or PestPatrol. Some are reshaping the way we entertain ourselves on our lunch hour. Others are creating new support systems for medical research. The list of who’s hot and who’s not shifts every year, so forecasting can be tricky. Here are our picks of five young technology companies that appear headed for more success. We list them chronologically, starting with the newest.

FlyTunes Inc., Lancaster
Year founded: 2006 as BroadClip Inc.; name changed January 2008
Revenue: Did not disclose
Employees: 11 full-time, three part-time
Expertise: Delivery of digital entertainment to portable media devices, such as Internet radio channels on cell phones and iPods
Of interest: Sam Abadir started FlyTunes because he wanted a way to listen to his favorite satellite radio stations while commuting to work on the train. The company signed a deal April 14 with Chicago-based AccuRadio.com to offer more than 320 Internet radio channels on iPhones and iPod Touch models. Roy Smith, FlyTunes’ vice president of marketing, said the company is now generating revenue, something that’s difficult for technology startups in their first couple of years. It’s a bright future for the company, capitalizing on the re-emergence of Internet-based entertainment commerce and the growing popularity of small electronics. “The radio industry is really embracing what we’re doing because they recognize that it’s becoming ubiquitous,” Smith said.

BitLeap Inc., Carlisle
Year founded: 2004
Revenue: Did not disclose
Employees: 16 full-time, one part-time; three open positions
Expertise: Computer-data backup and disaster-recovery technology
Of interest: Growth rates were 900 percent from 2005 to 2006 and 128 percent from 2006 to 2007, said Guy Suter, co-founder and chief executive officer. The company is projecting its 2008 revenue to be much more than $1 million, he said. BitLeap’s newest contract is with the San Antonio Education Service Center Region 20, an intermediary education organization in Texas with about 50 member school districts. The company keeps the number of its clients a secret, but it has successfully lined up partnerships with other tech companies, Suter said. It has more than 100 partners. Those firms refer clients to BitLeap in a business-sharing model. Geographically, BitLeap has clients in 40 states, Suter said.

Hanson Technologies Inc., Carlisle
Year founded: 2003
Revenue: Did not disclose
Employees: 12
Expertise: Mechanical engineering, biology, biochemistry, electronics, physics
Of interest: In the past year, Hanson Technologies completed two successful validation tests of its systems, which scan wash water from produce for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Such systems have become more important after tainted produce killed some people, made hundreds of others sick, and cost millions of dollars in lost vegetables. Hanson Technologies occupies a former crystal factory on the edge of Dickinson College’s campus in Carlisle, Cumberland County. “Part of the reason I wanted to start the company was to keep high-tech businesses here,” President William Hanson said. The company’s employee numbers could double in the coming year, he said. The company also produces systems for other applications, including security screening and animal diagnostics.

Mission Research, Lancaster
Year founded: 2002
Revenue: Did not disclose
Employees: 23
Expertise: Software development
Of interest: Mission Research officially launched its first software program, GiftWorks, in 2004. The program was designed by Charlie Crystle in 2002 to help a nonprofit organize its finances and fundraising efforts. The GiftWorks product is responsible for the company’s explosion in software development. Mission Research grew from a client base of about 150 to 4,000 in the months leading up to January 2007. Since then, the company has added more than 2,000 clients. By keeping the product license fee at $399, Mission Research has targeted small and medium nonprofits, such as local libraries, museums and other community groups. Expansion of this concept could be on the horizon, said Executive Vice President Mary Pat Donnellon. The 2008 edition of GiftWorks was released in March, with a premium edition coming in June. The program has added international options, such as a currency selector. The company wants to expand into other English-speaking countries, Donnellon said. The company could broaden its software offerings in the future, she said.

ProSanos Corp., Harrisburg
Year founded: 2000
Revenue: Did not disclose
Employees: 35
Expertise: Uses technology to gather and analyze data for drug-safety research with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical firms
Of interest: The company is about to pen its 100th contract, said Jonathan Morris, president and chief executive officer. And it’s releasing a new product this summer in conjunction with British-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has a plant in Lancaster County. ProSanos’ work to improve drug safety is invaluable to the pharmaceutical industry in Central and southeastern Pennsylvania, said Mel Billingsley, president and chief executive officer of the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania. ProSanos also is dedicated to the region, he said. “They were originally a bicoastal company, and ultimately they migrated to this area,” he said. ProSanos consolidated its operations to the Harrisburg office in 2006.

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