Hershey’s Is First to Sign on to Pennovation Center

The first corporate tenant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Pennovation Center will be the Hershey Company.

View from the University Avenue Bridge

View from the University Avenue Bridge

Things are going to be a little chocolatey on the banks of the Schuylkill River.

Today Penn announced that the Hershey Company — yes, the candy company — was the first to sign on as the corporate sponsor for its Pennovation Center in South Philadelphia. 

The Pennovation Center is the current focus of the Pennovation Works project, at the area formerly called “South Bank” near 34th street and Grays Ferry Avenue. (If you don’t drive, you take the 12 bus to get there. It’s adjacent to the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood and it’s close to where you pick up your FedEx packages.

New York-based architects HWKN are currently turning an old industrial warehouse into Penn’s hub for innovation, research and entrepreneurialism. Total cost for phrase one of the project — which also includes landscaping, improved signage, and similar site improvements — is $37.5 million.

“We are proud to be the inaugural corporate sponsor of the Pennovation Center and view this venture as two longstanding and respected Pennsylvania institutions coming together,” Hershey Company senior VP Waheed Zaman said in a release. “We envision this as a place to bring our innovative thinkers together with Penn’s top‐notch faculty and students, and other members of the Center, to explore technologies and prototypes that fall outside of our company’s traditional innovation funnels.”

The Pennovation Works project has a long list of tenants including the Penn Working Dog Center, KMeL Robotics (a spinoff of a lab in the engineering school) and the Penn School of Arts & Sciences Bio Garden.

Hershey’s Advanced Technology & Foresight Lab will move into the new Pennovation Center when it opens in August. ʺThe Pennovation Center is an exciting new venue for the incubation of ideas, collaborations and new companies,” Dawn Bonnell, Penn’s Vice Provost for Research, said in a statement. “Hershey’s sponsorship of the Pennovation Center is an illustration of how corporations play an important role in the innovation ecosystem. We are very pleased that Hershey is engaged with us at the beginning of this venture.ʺ

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