Penn’s New Guide to Commercializing Tech a Good Step for Philly

PCI’s Commercialization Guide.

Philly’s been working to boost the rate at which it commercializes tech, and a shiny new resource from the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI) signals the continued push.

PCI calls it the Commercialization Guide — a nearly 40-page booklet that lists everything a researcher or entrepreneur could possibly ever need to know about tech commercialization. Questions like, “How on earth do I license my technology?” and “Why create a startup anyway?” are all addressed in plain language.

For starters, the guide defines tech commercialization or tech transfer as the “creation of business relationships between the university and the commercial sector for the purpose of creating products and services based on discoveries invented at the university.” And those relationships can take the form of licensing deals, industry partnerships, and the formation of startups.  Read more »

Dear Amazon: Here Are 25+ Really Good Reasons for You to Come to Philly

Philly to be home to Amazon’s new HQ?

Amazon has outgrown Seattle, and the behemoth is on a newfound quest to find a home for its second North American headquarters. The new HQ, what’s been dubbed HQ2, would employ a whopping 50,000 and would cost a pretty penny to build and operate—$5 billion to be exact.

So naturally, such an announcement has already set off a wild race among our nation’s big cities (side eye to Pittsburgh) as Amazon is soliciting bids for the development and says its giving priority to locales with more than 1 million people. Philadelphia’s very own mayor, Jim Kenney, jumped into the fray on Twitter to express excitement at the idea that the City of Brotherly Love has a real chance to house one of the world’s most valuable companies.

The Philly tech and business community is already standing strong with Mayor Kenney on this one. I put a call out to the business community: Why would Philly be the best place for Amazon’s HQ2? Answers came pouring in within minutes.

So, Dear Amazon, here’s a shameless list of why you should absolutely come to Philadelphia: Read more »

Cell Phones That Charge in Seconds? New Research From Drexel Says It’s Possible

Dr. Yury Gogotsi | Photo via

The battery hasn’t advanced in decades, and engineers at Drexel University want to change that. A team of researchers led by College of Engineering professor Dr. Yury Gogotsi has been quietly developing a material that can pave the way for a new class of high-power batteries. The material is called MXene, and it has the power to fully charge a cell phone within seconds, the scientists say. Dr. Gogotsi’s team published a paper in Nature Energy’s July issue that debuted functional designs for MXene electrodes that make real-world applications of the futuristic material more attainable than ever.

If you’re wondering just how MXene might change the game (and how soon), and what it all means for Drexel and Philly’s place in the field of material science, BizPhilly talked to Dr. Gogotsi, who’s also director of Drexel’s A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, to get some answers. Here’s what he had to say. Read more »

PHOTOS: Inside Vanguard’s Philadelphia Innovation Studio

L to R: Head of Vanguard Innovation Studio Lisha Davis; Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb; PIDC President John Grady; State Representative Brian Sims.

Investment management giant Vanguard has officially set up shop right here in Philadelphia, just a little ways away from its Malvern, Pa. headquarters. On Tuesday, the company officially cut the ribbon on its Innovation Studio now located at 2300 Chestnut Street, the historic Philadelphia Design Building.

The 16,000-square-foot space — complete with large windows, exposed brick walls, funky seating, and splashes of playful color — spans two floors and is already home to a Vanguard crew of 20, with room for up to 80 more.

Vanguard says the space is the beginning of its innovation journey, one that will further its corporate mission of making investment easier and more intuitive. Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb, who’ll step down as CEO in January, emphasized the role innovation has already played at Vanguard.  Read more »

WATCH: Eight Pitches From Philadelphia’s Shark Tank Casting Call

Shark Tank’s open call at Xfinity Live!. Photo by Haley Weiss

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of hopefuls toting products and presentations of all sorts lined up outside Xfinity Live! for Shark Tank’s annual Greater Philadelphia casting call.

As the hit ABC show revs up for its ninth season, the impact it’s had on America’s entrepreneurial spirit is more apparent than ever: Since its 2009 premier, producers now hear roughly 40,000 pitches annually. And last year, the show teamed up with Comcast Business for the first time to bring open calls to Philadelphia more regularly. Shark Tank holds fewer than ten casting calls each year nationwide.

Applicants from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and a handful of other states showed up to fight for their chance to appear before the sharks. But, as we all know, the competition on Shark Tank is stiff—only 100 or so entrepreneurs of the 40,000 open call attendees make it on air each season. So do any Philly-area entrepreneurs at this week’s event have what it takes to wow producers and eventually score a big investment? From snap-off panties to trash can decor, here are seven ideas and products pitched at Philadelphia’s 2017 Shark Tank open call.

Read more »

Thrilled About How Far Philly Tech Has Come? Celebrate at the PHL Innovation Picnic

The Navy Yard | Photo: PIDC

Ten Philadelphia tech organizations are collaborating to host the first-ever PHL Innovation Picnic later this month. In fact, it’s happening next Thursday, June 29th.

The event is a chance to celebrate Philadelphia’s expanding tech community, although people across all industries are welcome to grab a ticket online and head to the Navy Yard for three hours of food, drinks, music, and games.

The Innovation Picnic also doubles as a fundraiser. Proceeds from the event will be donated to three local nonprofits – iPraxis, Spark, and TechGirlz – all of which are dedicated to educating Philadelphia schoolchildren and providing them with resources to succeed. iPraxis and TechGirlz, in particular, focus on science and tech education. Hundreds of attendees are expected to show up in support of these nonprofits and Philly tech.  Read more »

Here’s Why Brookings Thinks Philly’s Innovation Scene Isn’t Competitive Enough

code orange | f11photo

A new report released on Thursday by the nonprofit Brookings Institution tries to tackle a major, eternally looming question for Philadelphia: With all of the city’s recent advancements in innovation, why isn’t Philadelphia more competitive on the national and global stage?

The answer: Philly leaders and institutions lack “a sense of collective urgency” to help the city intentionally connect the dots on how to best leverage its innovation capacity.

The report examined what it calls Philadelphia’s “innovation district” the area from 17th Street in Center City to 44th Street along Market in University City and South along the Schuylkill River to Grays Ferry and determined that this region, home to anchor firms and institutions like CHOP, FMC, the Science Center, Drexel, Penn, Comcast, IBX, and PECO, can be further developed and more interconnected to push Philly past its innovation tipping point.

Philadelphia’s Innovation District. Courtesy of Brookings.

But before the authors prescribed their recommendations on how to bridge the innovation district’s gaps, they took a deep dive into what continues to ail the district and also what keeps it alive. Here are the strengths and challenges identified in the report:  Read more »

One City in Pennsylvania is Poised to Crush the 21st Century …

Photo via Dave DiCello/visit pittsburgh

Photo via Dave DiCello/visit pittsburgh

I came to Pittsburgh to see the future.

On a blustery late-winter morning with a light whorl of snowflakes falling near the banks of the Allegheny River, Sarah, a friendly young PR person for Uber, opened the rear passenger door of a Volvo SUV that had so much electronic gear installed on the roof, it looked like it was wearing a crown. She gestured for me to take a seat. We were in the parking lot of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, a converted restaurant-equipment warehouse just north of downtown. I was about to have a very special Uber ride, and not just because it was free.

I buckled up, and the Volvo headed out on a few blocks of 33rd Street that run under a hulking railroad trestle — an unsubtle symbol of the city’s heralded industrial past. The car turned toward downtown and headed into the bustling Strip District. We went a few miles and then circled back on Smallman Street to the Uber warehouse, which is situated in a part of Pittsburgh that recently has become such a magnet for tech research that one think-tank maven described it to me as “where you really feel you’re in the 21st century.”

The ride took maybe 15 minutes and was uneventful except for a needless stop for a double-parked delivery truck outside one of the Strip’s many food stores and some hard braking when an impatient idiot passed us on the right. I can’t say much more about it because Uber wouldn’t let me in the door unless I signed an imposing confidentiality agreement, and Sarah reminded me several times, in her very friendly way, that the whole trip was “on background.” But I think I can reveal this: Though there was someone in the driver’s seat, for most of the trip the car drove itself. Read more »

Philly ER Doc Wins Big for Creating a Real Tricorder

Toy Star Trek Tricorder prototypes. Image via Pinterest.

Toy Star Trek tricorders. Image via Pinterest.

Final Frontier Medical Devices, a team led by Paoli-based ER doctor Basil Harris, just won the global $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize competition for creating a groundbreaking device akin to Star Trek’s futuristic Tricorder.

The competition for the Tricorder XPrize has been five years in the making. The California-based nonprofit group XPrize, challenged applicants to develop a tricorder-like device, one that can accurately diagnose 13 health conditions and monitor five vital signs independent of a doctor or a hospital. The tool has the potential to revolutionize the health care space by giving consumers the power to check the state of their health independently at any time. The international competition had 312 entrants from 38 counties and Dr. Basil’s bootstrapped seven-member team of siblings and friends took home the grand prize of $2.6 million dollars for their tricorder prototype — the DxtER.  Read more »

How the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship Is Building a New Class of Philly Business Leaders

Sudan Green explains his group’s ideas to the class during January's session.

Sudan Green explains his group’s ideas to the class during January’s session.

When I walked into the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship’s third session one snowy Saturday morning in January, I was immediately greeted by the word hustle. It was written across the T-shirts of some of the program’s entrepreneurs, and the group chanted “Ay hustllllle” several times that morning to voice their enthusiasm.

The 24 entrepreneurs, clustered around the couches of the city’s Pipeline co-working space, were tuned into a lesson on the business model canvas, a template for fleshing out brand-new ventures. They spent hours thinking up value propositions, potential revenue streams, and their dreamt-up businesses’ cost structures. But the IHHE isn’t the average boot camp for entrepreneurs. In fact, this is Philadelphia’s first business incubator program intentionally geared toward young people who are often overlooked by existing educational and business communities — applicants who didn’t go to Wharton or have a venture capitalist for a relative. Here are four things I observed about the IHHE that prove it’s building Philly’s next generation of business tycoons. Read more »

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