Edison Partners, 281 Witherspoon Street, Suite 300, Princeton 08540. 609-896-1900. Chris Sugden, managing partner. www.edisonpartners.com.
Edison Partners, the growth equity investment firm, has invested $9 million in Chicago-based Bento for Business, business-to-business financial management company. Bento will use the funds to accelerate sales and marketing and continue product innovation of its payments, spend management, and business banking platform.
Bento’s platforms are aimed at curbing employee theft via fraudulent expense reimbursement. The card-based digital spend management platform enables businesses to manage employee spending at the point of sale, prior to purchase.
“Today’s business banking is failing small and midsized companies. There is a massive long tail market that would prefer to not give their employees a commercial credit line, petty cash, and per diems, nor deal with the challenges of non-approved purchases ex post,” said Michael Kopelman, general partner at Edison Partners, who led the investment. “Bento is creating a new, modular treasury management and banking suite for these businesses.”
“We’re impressed by Bento’s growth orientation and discipline for building rock-solid products that deliver bottom-line customer benefit,” added Kelly Ford, partner at Edison Partners. “Bento’s customer uptake and financial momentum has been striking.” In the last twelve months, the company has tripled revenues and doubled its customer base. Additionally, Bento recently announced a virtual card platform and open API strategy, partnerships with The Brink’s Company and payments processor i2c, and recognition as a Startup of the Year from Pay Awards.
Norma Jean DeVico, 61, on July 11. The Titusville artist, known as NJ, was recognized for both her landscapes and for works dealing with her long term cancer and was involved with numerous area exhibitions. Her work often appeared in U.S. 1, including her image of the Washington Crossing Bridge for the August 30, 2017, story on bridges over the Delaware River.
Joseph W. Katz, 91, on July 13. He was a reporter for the Newark Evening News and later worked on the campaign and in the administration of Governor Richard J. Hughes. He left government to become a lobbyist and was an influential force in Trenton for more than 25 years.
Sonnet BioTherapeutics, 100 Overlook Drive, Second Floor, Princeton 08540. 609-375-2227. Panjak Mohan, founder and executive chairman. sonnetbio.com.
Sonnet BioTherapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on enhanced cancer immunotherapies, says it has finished the “discovery phase” of its immunotherapy platform. The company also announced that it has commenced development for up to four immuno-oncology assets with a New Jersey-based contract manufacturing partner.
Sonnet’s technology makes certain immune system proteins last longer. IL-12, a commonly used protein in immunotherapy for cancer, is often given at high doses due to its short lifespan, and Sonnet says its platform greatly extends its half-life and has the added positive effect of making it accumulate more in tumor tissue.
“Globally, cancer is responsible for about one in six deaths, and current immunotherapies are effective for only 20 percent of patients,” said Sonnet founder and executive chairman Pankaj Mohan. “The National Cancer Institute and other bodies believe interleukins are important tools in cancer immunotherapy. We believe the Sonnet platform de-risks the use of interleukins by greatly extending their half-life within the body, while also improving their specificity to tumor tissue. Having concluded our discovery program with a multi-asset pipeline, we are excited to advance up to four lead therapeutic candidates (three of which have double targets) into [chemistry, manufacturing, and control] development and plan for primate data and IND.”
John Cini, co-founder and chief scientific officer, said Sonnet’s platform uses a fully formed human “albumin binding domain.” to create these effects. He said the technique enhances the effectiveness of “checkpoint inhibitor” immunotherapy drugs, which help the body’s own immune system fight cancer.
“By addressing past challenges with interleukins, Sonnet promises to unleash the true potential of checkpoint inhibition treatments and other current cancer therapies,” he said.
“Sara is a seasoned strategic executive with significant experience in the public biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry,” said Daniel J. O’Connor, CEO OncoSec. “She joins OncoSec at an extremely important time, as we look to achieve several key milestones in the remainder of 2018. Sara has a proven track record of success and I am pleased she chose to join OncoSec.”
Bonstein joined OncoSec from Advaxis, where she served as CFO, secretary, treasurer and executive vice president. Prior to Advaxis, she held key financial leadership positions with Eli Lilly & Company, ImClone Systems and Johnson & Johnson. Bonstein and her new boss share several previous employers: O’Connor was CEO of Advaxis between 2015 and 2017 and previously worked at ImClone.
She holds a bachelor’s in finance from the College of New Jersey and an MBA from Rider.
In a prepared statement, OncoSec said Bonstein will succeed Richard Slansky, CFO, who will “leave to pursue new opportunities.”
Princeton University, 1 Nassau Hall, Princeton 08544. 609-258-3000. Christopher Eisgruber, president. www.princeton.edu.
Princeton University and collaborators have received $10 million from the Department of Energy to establish an Energy Frontier Research Center with a focus on “bioinspired light-escalated chemistry (BioLEC).”
The award will be funded at a total of $10.75 million over a four-year award period beginning with fiscal year 2018. Princeton is one of 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) nationwide, which split $100 million in funding between them.
Under the leadership of Gregory Scholes, the William S. Tod Professor of Chemistry, the research center will seek to “employ light harvesting and advances in solar photochemistry to enable unprecedented photo-induced cross-coupling reactions that valorize abundant molecules.” The center aims to revolutionize chemist’s ability to make new molecules, fuels, and materials by using the collective energy of two packets (quanta) light to break and make strong chemical bonds. A new range of chemical building blocks will be picked apart, aided by the sun’s energy, and crafted into new structures with valuable functions.
A report by Colliers International says New Jersey registered 8.6 million square feet of industrial leasing activity during the second quarter of 2018 — down from 10.6 million in the previous period as a lack of available space slowed leasing activity. The quarterly report showed office leasing during the past three months rising by 31 percent.
A 449,880-square-foot lease by Clutter at 1065 Cranbury South River Road in South Brunswick led the second-quarter activity, followed by a renewal for 371,995 square feet by LA Enterprises at 1 Costco Way in Monroe Township and a 318,389-square-foot sale-leaseback by Freeze at 473 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction.
“During the first half of the year, ongoing demand for strategic distribution locations helped drive rental rates to historically high levels,” said David A. Simon, executive managing director and New Jersey market leader for Colliers. “Our research revealed a decline in leasing activity during the past quarter; however, the reason for the decline was only based on the fact that there is not enough space to accommodate the demand.”
The report said that during the second quarter, 13 new buildings totaling 5.4 million square feet were delivered, 75 percent of which had pre-lease commitments. Even with the wave of new deliveries, the availability rate remained flat, closing at 5 percent and helping to spur a 9.3 percent rise in asking rates from last year, to $7.62 per square foot.
Although soul singer-songwriter Briz is reticent when speaking about herself on the phone, she is not shy at all on stage. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Live, Briz seems to launch herself into her music, with a voice that is melodic and forceful at the same time. She has an expressive face with a big smile, and sports chic stage attire, accessorized with dangly earrings and bangle bracelets.
A recent arrival to Princeton, Briz (whose real name is Brandi Lewis Grove) is a dynamo, personality-plus when performing with her group, The Revival.
Listen to her first recording “Love and Light,” and you might hear pure soul coming through. It’s hard to believe this self-released 2016 EP is Briz’ first time in the recording studio. (Singer-songwriter Walter Anderson, of Kool and the Gang, helped with some of the vocal arrangements on the project.)
All the songs are terrific, but “Anything More” really stands out. On the surface, it’s a sophisticated, joyful, neo-soul love song, but listen a little more closely and you can detect Briz’ faith, her close relationship with spirit.
The energetic ensemble that backs Briz is t\The Revival, consisting of Kevon Lewis on guitar, keyboardist Dominick Wilkins, Kisha Johnson on drums, and bassist Jeff Smith — the music director of the group, who co-produced songs on “Love and Light.”
Just watching them on YouTube or on the group’s Facebook page makes you want to smile. That’s the purpose of Briz’ singing and of the group in general: to connect with the audience emotionally, to get everyone going and feeling glad.
“I believe music is the soul’s language and its power connects us to everyone and everything,” Briz says. “It’s why our name is The Revival. We really aim to make people feel good, to feel alive and connected to each other.”
Briz and the Revival will perform at the Princeton Shopping Center courtyard, 301 North Harrison Street in Princeton, on Thursday, July 26, as part of the 35th annual Summer Courtyard Concert Series, which runs through August 23.
The free concerts are presented by the Arts Council of Princeton in partnership with the Princeton Shopping Center.
The name “Briz” came about when she was in high school in her hometown of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, around the year 2000. The singer Brandy (Norwood) had been very popular at the time, always on the radio throughout the late-1990s.
“I mentioned to a friend that I really liked Brandy, and I was thinking to myself that, ‘I’d like to do that, I think I could sing like her,’” she says. “My friend pointed out, ‘there’s already a Brandy’ in the music business,’ so he nicknamed me ‘Briz’ and it stuck.”
Since this spring Briz and the Revival’s schedule has been full of activity. One of the biggest audiences the band has seen was over the Fourth of July holiday when Briz and friends were part of the Welcome America festivities in Philadelphia, opening for the Philly Pops at Independence Mall.
The band has also played at the Hotel DuPont as well as Kelly’s Logan House in Wilmington, Delaware; Kung Fu Necktie, Sweeney’s, and Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia; and the South Street (Philadelphia) Spring Festival.
Prior to the Princeton performance, the group will appear Friday, July 20, at the Ladybug Music Festival in Wilmington, which Briz believes is the USA’s largest festival celebrating women in music.
She notes that the concert on July 26 will be only the second time the band has played in Princeton, following Communiversity in 2017.
After the Courtyard Concert, Briz hopes to take a short break and then work on another album, a follow-up to “Love and Light.”
“The last project was recorded at a home studio, but we’re researching to (find) a recording studio, to see what would be a good fit,” says Briz, the group’s designated songwriter. “We’d like to have more of a concert feel for our next album. We’ll see how things pan out.”
For the July 26 show in Princeton Briz says to expect some of her originals but a nice helping of rousing covers as well.
“I love doing covers, and since we’re a new band, there’s a good chance that people don’t know us,” she says, noting that the familiar songs and the group’s singular interpretations have charmed listeners and them more open to the band’s originals.
One such number is Briz’ version of “The Look of Love,” slowed down and simmering, sultrier than anything composer Burt Bacharach ever imagined.
With the more uptempo cover songs, you might hear the influence of the late Sharon Jones, who dazzled with the band the Dap-Kings before her death in November, 2016.
“I love Sharon Jones. She was the most amazing singer, and God rest her soul,” Briz says. “Her singing is nostalgic and fresh at the same time. When she was diagnosed with cancer but kept performing, she was such an inspiration to me.”
Briz quietly mentions that she herself struggled with breast cancer in 2017. In fact, she got her diagnosis the very same day the group was confirmed to perform at last year’s Welcome America festivities. They were to be on the major stage on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, part of an evening of music that culminated in a performance by superstar Mary J. Blige.
She muses that she just put her head down and went forward in a blur of excitement for that show.
It was all shocking to Briz, since the disease doesn’t run in her family and she was a little young for the diagnosis. After surgery and chemotherapy, finally, she is again well enough to put all her energy into the music.
The singer-songwriter grew up in Coatesville, about 45 miles west of Philadelphia. Her father was (and still is) a minister. Her mom was a homemaker who played “old-school neo-soul” ladies of the 1980s such as Anita Baker, Sade, and Teena Marie.
Briz recalls singing all her life and says her family deeply loved music, but no one close was making a living from it.
“There might be family members somewhere who are professional musicians, but I think I am the first one in my (immediate) family to really pursue it,” she says. “I also love to sing whenever I have the opportunity with my church choir.”
That would be the First Baptist Church of Wayne in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where Briz’ husband, Rashad D. Grove, is the senior pastor. The couple has two daughters.
The fertile musical terrain of Philadelphia is where Briz and The Revival’s sound has its roots.
“I really got motivated by people like Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild, etc.,” Briz says. “Those are just a couple of Philly artists who spearheaded the neo-soul genre. I was only about 18 years old, and I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
“Growing up, I was always writing poetry and songs, but I didn’t think I could have a career singing my own songs,” she says. “I was discouraged because I wasn’t formally trained in music.”
It took a while for Briz, now 36, to stop hiding her light under the proverbial bushel. About five years ago one of her young daughters simply dared her to get out in public and sing.
“She was just a little girl, only about four or five, and she challenged me to be brave,” Briz says. “She’d heard me sing in church and around the house, and she asked me what I was afraid of.”
Soon Briz was putting her “Love and Light” project together, as well as gathering talented friends and rehearsing to take the music on the road.
Incidentally, it was Grove’s career in the ministry that brought the family to Princeton. He is currently at the Princeton Theological Seminary to further his calling and career as a spiritual leader.
“He’s entering his last year at the seminary for his master’s in divinity,” Briz says. “It’s a rigorous program but he’s doing well, and I’m really proud of him. I actually love it in Princeton, and once my husband’s studies are done, we’re thinking about moving here permanently.”
Since moving to Princeton, Briz had been working at Christ Congregation as office manager but left the position when she was diagnosed with cancer and then decided to pursue music full time.
She is also debating about whether to continue at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania, where she had been studying secondary education and family and consumer sciences.
Briz says her husband — who is also her manager — was and still is tremendously supportive. She also thinks, in a way, her late mother has been looking out for her too, as her musical career grows.
“Before my mom passed away, even before she was ill, we were talking and it was one of those special moments,” Briz says. “I realize now it was our last conversation. She said, ‘I feel like this (music) is happening for you, and I might not be there physically, but I’ll always be there for you.’ I am sure she’s with me.”
“I’ve always loved music and singing, but performing as myself with a band has really brought me to life, that’s why I call the group ‘The Revival,’” she continues. “That was my hope when we started, that people would feel revived. It’s our joy to perform and it’s important to us to spread joy.”
Briz and the Revival, Summer Courtyard Concert Series, Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton. Thursday, July 26, 6 p.m. Free. www.brizonline.com.
Series continues Thursdays: August 2, Amazin’ Grace and the Grace Little Band; August 9, Eco Del Sur; August 16, Octavia Blues Band; August 23, Michael Austin. Concerts are rain or shine, but in the event of rain will be held in the Arts Council’s Pop-Up Space next to Metropolis Spa & Salon. Summer concert attendees can also take advantage of Princeton Shopping Center retailer discounts and sales. 609-924-8777 or www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.
Celebrate Jersey Fresh and one of our state’s favorite fruits by joining Terhune Orchards for their annual Just Peachy Festival on Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The weekend will be filled with plenty of activities for the whole family including the Eat A Peach Scavenger Hunt, a ride through the orchards on our tractor-drawn wagons, pony rides, duck races, face painting, games and barnyard fun.
New this year, Eyes of the Wild, a traveling zoo, will present two shows a day on Saturday and Sunday under the festival tent. This educational program with live animals mesmerizes toddlers through grownups.
Saturday shows: 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. Sunday shows: Noon and 1:30 p.m.
Foodies will get up close and personal with local culinary experts as they share some of their favorite ways to use Terhune Orchards peaches and summer produce in cooking demonstrations held on both days at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. inside our big, red event barn. You will love the peachy inspiration and summer cooking tips from these fun and tasty programs. Enjoy a free sample of the dishes our presenters create.
Saturday, 11 a.m.: Pam Mount’s popular Canning and Freezing class has grown so much over the years we needed a bigger venue. Our big event barn has plenty of seating to get comfortable and learn Pam’s secrets for preserving summer’s harvest of peaches for year long enjoyment. She will answer all your canning and freezing questions.
2 p.m.: Dor Mullen will teach the basics of North African spice blending. Learn how to use 15-20 spices to make blends and sauces to jazz up vegetables. Each person at the table enjoys his or her preferred level of “heat.”
Dor is the founder of The Suppers Program, a network of support groups in central New Jersey for people who need to change the way they cook and eat for their health.
Sunday: 11 a.m.: Rachel Weston, author of “New Jersey Fresh: Four Seasons from Farm to Table” will demonstrate one of her favorite summer peach recipes. She calls it Peach Perfection!
2 p.m.: Margo Allen, is the chef and owner of Fridge2Table, a personal chef service providing healthy, balanced meals made in your home or for delivery. Margo recognizes the importance of eating healthfully, even on a busy schedule and will share her tips for making fresh and delicious summer meals.
Enjoy live music each day noon to 4 p.m. On Sunday, Borderline will have your toes tapping!
Savor Summer. Pam’s Everything Peachy Food Tent will offer other tasty summer fare such as peach pie, barbecued chicken, hot dogs, homemade gazpacho, salads, and our famous apple cider donuts.
In our Just Peachy Delights courtyard enjoy specialty foods made by made local food vendors. Cool off in the Ice Cream Social Tent with one of our refreshing frozen peach slushies and a selection of locally made ice creams.
Adults can visit the Terhune Orchards Vineyards winery tasting room to sample award-winning red, white and fruit wines, including Just Peachy wine made with Terhune’s own apple cider and peaches.
Terhune Orchards grows 28 varieties of peaches and nectarines. Baskets overflowing with just-picked fruit are ready to take home from the farm store to eat fresh out of hand or try making a new peach recipe.
Admission to the festival area is $8, children under 3 are free. Admission fee includes wagon rides, pedal tractors, barnyard of animals, children’s games, music and presentations. (Additional activities available for additional cost.)
Admission to the farm store, winery and parking is free.
August Hours: The farm store is Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wine bottles are available in the store daily. The winery is open Friday noon to 8 p.m. Sunset Sips & Sounds with live music, 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Music on Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m.
Find Terhune Orchards online at terhuneorchards.com, on Facebook and Instagram.
Tucked away on a country road in Hopewell Township is Roots to River Farm, a remarkable place where you can buy organic produce grown right on the grounds, as well as prepared food made with those ingredients.