The coolest things created in Happy Valley


By Holly Riddle 

Last month, as millions were closely monitoring their March Madness brackets, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry was monitoring a bracket of a different kind: the Coolest Things Made in PA bracket, which pits 64 well-known names from around the state against one another, letting the public vote on their favorite products and brands.

Familiar faces on the bracket included Yuengling and Crayola, Hershey and Zippo, and brands were split into categories based on location: West, East, Central and The “T.” With Happy Valley in The “T”, the area was represented by — what else? — Penn State Creamery ice cream, which made it all the way to the bracket’s Elite Eight before falling to Mrs. T’s Pierogies. The ultimate overall bracket winner was, not for the first time, Primanti Brothers.

However, while we love the Penn State Creamery (just check out our in-depth look at the Creamery’s work and what makes it great), we think there are quite a few other amazing products made in Happy Valley that could’ve also found a spot on the bracket. In fact, we probably have enough amazing products and innovations in the region to craft a bracket all on our own — and, if we did, here are some of the companies we’d add.

Aprehend bed bug solution

Sure, it’s not as fun as ice cream, but you know what’s really not fun? Bed bugs. That’s what Aprehend helps to prevent. Produced and distributed by ConidioTec, named after the fungal spores (conidia) from which Aprehend is made, Aprehend kills hard-to-control bed bugs that aren’t visible, setting it apart from other solutions on the market.

DiamondBack truck covers

DiamondBack was born at Penn State in 2003. The company’s chief engineer had some equipment stolen from the back of his truck and, when he went looking for a secure truck cover, couldn’t find one that he liked. With that, an idea was born. Now, DiamdonBack offers load bearing, durable truck covers that can securely stow goods in the truck bed and still carry heavy loads, like a stack of firewood or an ATV, on top.

KCF Technologies sensors

Who knew such a small sensor could have such a big impact? KCF Technologies sensors monitor millions of assets across a wide variety of industries — oil & gas, automotive, paper — and the result is massive savings in both money and lost productivity, for the company’s client base, which includes myriad household names.

Steller Floors

Wood flooring that clicks together to form a floating floor, requiring no special installation and, best of all, can be uninstalled and removed to be used again and again? It all adds up to the fastest and easiest installation process for wood flooring on the market — which is likely why Steller Floors has been growing at a rapid rate since launching in 2018.

spotLESS Materials repellent coatings

No one says, “Wow, I really wish I could spend more time cleaning my toilet.” With spotLESS Materials’ coating sprays, there’s less scrubbing and more doing whatever else it is you want to do. With just a one-time application, the dirtiest areas in your home or business are protected with an invisible shield that prevents the buildup of dirt, grime, stains, odors and more.

Sensor Networks Inc. sensors

Sensor Networks Inc. produces sensors for a variety of customers, but, in one of its proudest customer success stories, an aircraft engine manufacturer reached out to the company after multiple instances of catastrophic engine failure on specific aircraft, which had resulted in emergency landings and, in one instance, a fatality. The engine manufacturer commissioned Sensor Networks engineers to design a sensor to detect cracks within the dovetail section of the aircraft’s engine fan blades. The Sensor Networks team created the necessary sensors (enough for 1,200 aircraft), and successfully detected other engine damages that had not yet been detected, preventing potentially countless additional failures.

Fluid Conservation Systems sensors

Fluid Conservation Systems relocated to Happy Valley from Ohio, seeking opportunities to bring its sensor solutions to Pennsylvania. The company produces sensors that monitor water networks and ultimately, save clients hundreds of thousands of dollars, while keeping millions of gallons of treated water from being wasted and/or infiltrating and damaging natural waterways.

Xact Metal 3D printers

Xact Metal has made metal 3D printing accessible and affordable in a way that was previously unheard of. According to the company, “With a desire to enable more and more designers, developers and manufacturers to experience the benefits of high-quality metal 3D printing at the best price possible, Xact Metal aims to change the perception that additive manufacturing is only for capital-rich companies.”

Phospholutions fertilizer technology

Originally founded by a Penn State student and taking full advantage of Happy Valley’s entrepreneurial resources, including Invent Penn State, the Happy Valley LaunchBox, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and more, Phospholutions’ signature technology, RhizoSorb®, is a soil amendment or fertilizer additive used to efficiently deliver phosphorus and other nutrients to crops. Phospholutions’ technology has been proven to reduce the environmental impact of phosphate fertilizer by reducing runoff potential by 58%, leaching by 87%, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the conventional use of traditional monoammonium phosphate sources by more than half.

BioMagnetic Solutions'cell selection and bioseperation technology

With a $10 million, first-of-its-kind facility opening in Happy Valley, BioMagnetic Solutions is a next-generation cell selection and bioseparation technology company that develops advanced ferrofluid-based immunomagnetic cell selection systems. The late Dr. Paul Liberti and Ted Liberti founded the company in Penn State incubator space in 2011, to cultivate cutting-edge ferrofluid technology that could revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Restek chromatography columns and accessories

Restek is a leading chromatography column and accessories developer and manufacturer that’s won numerous awards for both its products and its work environment. While chromatography might not be all that easy to grasp for the average layperson, though, Restek’s impact is pretty straightforward. In a prior Q&A with the company’s marketing communications manager, Lori Dundon, she summed up, “We provide analysts around the world with the innovative tools they need to monitor the quality of air, water, soil, foods, pharmaceuticals, chemical and petroleum products.” In other words, “Restek provides…solutions that touch people’s lives every day.”

Did we include your favorite Happy Valley-made product or solution? If not, let us know! 


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