Penn to Pump $50M Into Philly Biotech Scene With New Pilot Program

The initiative has been designed to keep Philadelphia life sciences innovators in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA downtown city skyline. Sean Pavone | iStock

Over the next three years, the University of Pennsylvania has plans to invest up $50 million in at least 10 biotech companies through an already launched pilot program, the Inquirer reports. Penn has not yet publicly announced the initiative.

The program is Penn’s answer to Philly innovators who would otherwise leave the city for places like San Francisco, Boston and New York in search of capital to support their ventures.

Kevin B. Mahoney, chief administrative officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and vice dean at Penn’s Perelman Medical School explained the goals of the program to the Inquirer. They include bringing new treatments to patients quickly and safely, supporting faculty initiatives, and diversifying Penn’s research to get more private funding. Mahoney said the program’s mission is to also create an “innovation cluster around Penn technology and spin outs.”

Officials may also be able to offer companies manufacturing support and software services to speed up production through the program.

Teams receiving investment must agree to keep their headquarters in Philadelphia. The companies must also receive funding commitments from at least one major investment firm specializing in biotech companies, according to the Inquirer.

Penn made a $5 million investment in Penn cancer research trailblazer Carl June’s Tmunity Therapeutics this year, which will be considered the first investment in the pilot program. Other companies on the program’s radar include Tycho Therapeutics and CARMA Therapeutics, both started by Penn professors.