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Vascular Magnetics' $7M Series A round shows impact of Science Center's QED program, company's team

Fresh off a $7 million round of Series A financing, Richard Woodward says without hesitation that the company he co-founded, Vascular Magnetics, would not exist without the first-of-its-kind QED Proof of Concept Funding Program at the University City Science Center.

A veteran executive from the biotech sector with extensive startup and early stage experience, Woodward was semi-retired and consulting in 2009 when he learned about the QED program, which assesses white papers on promising technologies and links the best with a business advisor and the possibility of funding. In the case of Vascular Magnetics, Woodward was paired with Dr. Robert J. Levy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and they were awarded $200,000 by the QED program in 2010.  The result was CHOP’s first spin-out company, focused on developing its proprietary, magnetically targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

“I was joking with my wife that this would have been a whole lot easier when I was 40,” Woodward says. “She said that when I was 40, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to do.”

In one respect, Woodward has come full circle with CHOP. His daughter had a medical condition that incapacitated her for her a couple years and a physician from CHOP helped contain the ailment, allowing Woodward’s daughter to pursue a career working for another children’s hospital.

“Dr. Levy, I have so much respect for that man,” says Woodward, the COO, of the company’s founding scientist. “He’s brilliant and a very prolific inventor, with something on the order of 31 issued patents. He probably has another 30 in various stages of the application process.

“It’s fairly rare to find an academic like that.”

The entire Series A round was funded by Wayne-based Devon Park Bioventures, whose general partners Christopher Moller and Marc Ostro will join the Vascular Magnetics board and rounds out a compelling case study of the potential of Greater Philadelphia's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Funds will allow the company to complete clinical trials, which are expected to begin in 2014. While the company will stay “aggressively virtual,” according to Woodward, there’s a good chance it will hire up to two more individuals. Also, the company is planning on maintaining workspace in the Science Center’s Port Business Incubator.

PAD effects about 30 million in Europe and North America, including 10 million in the U.S. Vascular Magnetics’ system aims to provide a more durable and effective treatment than angioplasty, grafts and drug eluting stents. It does this by combining biodegradeable, magnetic drug-loaded particles, a magnetic targeting catheter and an external device for creating a uniform magnetic field.

Woodward says some of Levy’s team at CHOP will be involved as consultants.

“These are some of the people that have developed the whole system. It’s important to have them around.”

Writer: Joe Petrucci
Source: Richard Woodward, Vascular Magnetics

Photos courtesy of Vascular Magnetics
Richard Woodward
Dr. Robert Levy

Women own IgnitePhilly9, Philadelphia Orchard Project wins $1,000

Like some kind of sustainable Vaudeville act, a giant check made out to The Philadelphia Orchard Project danced past Paul Kimport, co-owner of Johnny Brenda's, where Ignite Philly 9 was underway last Thursday. The Ignite 6 winner received $1,000 for its urban fruit tree initiative.
There are a few truly key vantage points with good sight lines to the stage at JB's, and Kimport stood at one of the best, with a view of the entire area. To the right, bathed in the blue light of a photo booth, speaker Yasmine Mustafa practiced her talk about bringing GirlDevelopIt to Philadelphia. Straight ahead, past the attentive bartenders, Jessica Moore was onstage talking about her startup, Philadelphia Cow Share.
This was one of the best Ignite Phillys we've done," says co-organizer Dana Vachon. "The speakers were diverse. The crowd was diverse. It was awesome! It's always exciting to see a couple hundred people get so excited about the good things in our city."

Co-organizer Geoff DiMasi adds, "I am really proud of the diversity of speakers. Some cities make Ignite into a tech and start-up event while ours is a celebration of the city."
Perhaps the most mind blowing moment came at the top of the program. Keya Dannenbaum, founder of ElectNext, opened IgnitePhilly not with a talk about politics or civics, as expected. In five minutes, with very simply illustrated slides, Dannenbaum brought the house to tears with a story about a bridge, a note, and a great love.
"I was pretty nervous since it was so personal, and I knew the expectation would be something different because, one, I'm always talking about ElectNext and two, because I felt that it would be more typical of an Ignite event to speak to a specific accomplishment directly relatable to Philadelphia," says Dannenbaum, who had absolutely no idea what the response would be. She'd only ever told the story once before, at her wedding. "I ultimately decided to tell it because I just really, really love that story." She intentionally left out all mention of ElectNext, which continues to grow from its headquarters at PMN's Project Liberty.
It was a night that went to the women. Pam Selle's speech, entitled Go the Fuck Home, was about finding a balance between work and life, and received dozens of twitter and real life accolades. Mustafa, who turns 30 this week, won for Best Overall presentation. Sisters Emaleigh and Aine Doley talked about their grassroots neighborhood renewal work in Germantown. Diana Lind of The Next American City asked us to consider blowing up Interstate 95, for real. 
Some pretty sharp guys also took the stage, like the Bicycle Coalition's Alex Doty, up and coming stand up comic Doogie Horner, the brilliant Dave Martorana, Tim Bennett of Bennett Compost, as well as Jeff Friedman and the Code for America fellows, who are in residence here this month. 
While  DiMasi could not get over the fact that he's already organized nine Ignites (when he can still recall creating the first) the packed room begged for Ignite 10. Says Vachon, "So far, we do not have a date for Ignite 10, probably sometime in the late spring."

As far as rumors of moving to a larger venue? Not true. "We love the venue and while we would love to accommodate more people, we think the impact of an intimate sold out event is perfect for now," replies DiMasi.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, ElectNext, Dana Vachon, Ignite Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL: Lee Nunery, Seth Williams among those focused on community impact

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a partnership with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.

Next week, the Winter 2012 edition of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ), titled "Innovations in Community Impact," will launch on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, second floor (19 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia).  You can read the Winter edition then by going to the PSIJ websiteThe event is open to the public, but requires an RSVP by emailing here.  The forum runs from 8:30 a.m.-12 noon, and will showcase two panels discussing health, education, criminal justice, child welfare innovative solutions to impact Philadelphia communities.  Some of the voices you will hear or read include:
  • Dan Hilferty and Independence Blue Cross’s newly created Social Impact Foundation that serves as a model for Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible social investing;
  • Kenny Gamble and Adur Rahim Islam, a successful real estate developer in South Philadelphia who took the unusual step of getting into the business of education, seeking to address at a holistic level the social ills that plagued local neighborhoods by focusing on schools as a way to redevelop a sense of pride and ownership within communities;
  • Anne Marie Ambrose and the Department of Human Services’ program, Improving Outcomes for Children, which aims to improve service delivery and outcomes for children in care by engaging community partners, streamlining case management and vigilantly tracking outcomes indicators to measure the initiative’s success;
  • District Attorney Seth Williams’ commitment to The Choice is Yours (TCY), an alternative-to-incarceration program to increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates by diverting first-time, non-violent felony drug offenders away from prison and into the labor market through positive job training and support;
  • Ann Karlen and Fair Food’s strategy to strengthen the Philadelphia regional food system by increasing the demand for a humane, sustainable, local agriculture system; and
  • Dr. Lee Nunery and the School District’s efforts to create alternative education settings that ensure all students can succeed in schools and their partnership with colleges to create direct college access and completion pipelines.
Philadelphia Social Innovation Journal publishes "Nominate an Innovator" articles which are public nominations of social innovations.  The Winter issue will highlight PolicyMap, demonstrating how programs can make "data-driven" decisions using a dynamic web-based tool, Naveguemos con Salud, a program providing breast health education and treatment assistance for Latinas, and Sunday Suppers, a novel intervention focused on educating low-income residents of the Norris Square neighborhood about the importance of taking time for nutritious family meals.

The Winter edition will highlight one of PSIJ columnists who explores the notion that problem-solving requires a different level of thought than our current thinking, which actually creates programs; the growing relevance of nonprofit collaboration; and the need for nonprofits to think strategically about partnerships as a way to grow revenue.

PSIJ 2012 Editions: In the Spring you will read about innovations in Arts and Culture, followed by innovations in Philanthropy and Responsible Investing in late Summer/early Fall.  Late Fall you will read about innovations in Collaborations, Affiliations, Partnerships and Mergers.

Increased partnership with foundations and universities: We welcome Independence Blue Cross Foundation and the Patricia Kind Foundation to our advisory board, which is composed of Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Scattergood Foundation, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, Green Tree Community Health Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Wells Fargo, Inglis Foundation, Barra Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, the Wharton School, and Sage Communications.

PSIJ is guided by an advisory board of regional foundations, the University of Pennsylvania, and thought leaders that include: Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Scattergood Foundation, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, Green Tree Community Health Foundation, Wells Fargo, Inglis Foundation, Barra Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, School of Social Policy and Practice,  and the Wharton School; and Sage Communications.

NICHOLAS TORRES and TINE HANSEN-TURTON are co-founders of Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Send feedback here.

Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal is the first online publication to bring a public focus to social innovators and their nonprofit organizations, foundations and social sector businesses in Greater Philadelphia Area, to recognize success and encourage others around the country to strive for similar results.

TEDxPHILLY CATCH-UP: Jen Pahlka and the Code for America crew see great things for tech in city

This is the first installment of an ongoing series that catches up with last November’s TEDxPhilly speakers.

For more videos of last year's TEDxPhilly talks, visit the event's YouTube channel.


Jennifer Pahlka has made cities her life work. She considers herself a product of American cities, from New York, where she grew up, to Oakland and San Francisco more recently, and now Philadelphia, where she’s visited close to a dozen times in the last year or so. She refered to Philly as a “city of love” in her TEDxPhilly talk last November at Temple University.

As founder and executive director of Code for America, she helps match web professionals with cities to create efficiency and promote accessibility among municipal offices by sorting databases, building apps, and freeing up data. Philadelphia is one of only two programs to be a part of CfA for two consecutive years, and this year’s edition recently welcomed CfA fellows Alex Yule, Elizabeth Hunt, and Michelle Lee.

Flying Kite talked to Pahlka and the three new fellows to catch up on their work in Philly and how CfA has grown into a game-changing experience for cities across the country.

Flying Kite (FK): How has your project in Philadelphia advanced since TEDxPhilly?
Jennifer Pahlka (JP): The big news is that our 2012 fellows just started their work in Philadelphia on Monday (Jan. 30). Michelle Lee, Alex Yule, and Liz Hunt are the new team, and they are accomplished, talented, and passionate about making the City of Philadelphia work better for all its residents. They're starting five weeks of meeting with everyone they can and figuring out how they can make a bit impact there this year.

Part of their work will be carrying on Change by Us in Philly, which currently hosts 418 ideas and 50 active projects, in which citizens are helping to make their neighborhoods better.

FK: Any changes to report? New partners, funding, accolades or other growth?
JP: At the end of last year, Code for America received a $1.5M grant from Google to start two new programs, including what we call the CfA Brigade, which will help civic developers and others anywhere in the country to stand up civic apps for their communities, and a start up accelerator for civic businesses.  We're hoping to have a big Philly presence when we get it up and running.

FK: What is one thing you've learned since TEDxPhilly about cities or Philadelphia?
JP: Sixty percent of the world will be living in cities by 2020!

FK: What's the next milestone for your work and why is it important?
JP: Our call for applications for our 2013 cities program closes on April 1. We hope that more and more cities around the country want to be a part of this movement, so that more cities can work openly, efficiently, and be deeply engaged with their citizens.

FK: What are your specific tasks while in Philadelphia?
Elizabeth Hunt (EH): As part of our year-long fellowship with Code for America, we’re spending 5 weeks in discovery mode in Philadelphia: understanding how the city serves its citizens, what Philadelphians want and need from their city, and how technology might help make local government more open, efficient, and engaging.

Alex Yule (AY): To that end, we’re meeting with citizens, officials across city government, as well as members of the tech and civic communities. We are also searching for champions – strong local partners who can help us build solutions, and maintain them once we’re gone. We want the tools and solutions we build to live on!

FK: What do you think of Philly's potential as a tech hub/leader?
Michelle Lee (ML): At Code for America, our past successes can be attributed to great partners at every level of city government and community. They help us make sure any technology we build is relevant to the real, existing, and complex urban challenges that cities face today.

Similarly, Drexel University’s ExCITE (Expressive and Creative Interactive Technologies) program is bridging technology with the arts. Philadelphia is an established national leader in healthcare and education, and has recently won major awards for sustainability and the arts. There’s a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of our sustainability, education, and especially our healthcare strengths in the same way.

FK: What are Philly's most pressing tech challenges?
AY: It seems to me that Philadelphia’s most pressing challenge is that people outside Philadelphia don’t seem to know there’s a vibrant tech scene here. So it may be difficult for companies here to attract more tech talent.

FK: What has impressed you about technology in Philadelphia?
ML: You could argue that the relative scarcity of technology investment capital here so far has actually had a silver lining. Philadelphia’s tech community has created sustainable businesses, very much in touch with their users and customers. I don’t believe you’d see a dot-com bust here.

AY: Philly has a strong core of companies who live in Philly because they truly love and believe in their city. Some other cities are full of companies who are there because “they’re supposed to be.” You get a very clear sense of that traveling around the city and chatting with people -- there are no opportunists or fair-weather friends here. People are in it for the long haul, they’re dedicated to building this city up as an even greater place to live and work.

Is there a difference between your initial perception of the city and the way you feel after being here for a bit?
AY: I’d heard about Azavea’s great mapping work while I was still back in school -- but I had no idea the scene was so vibrant! The city really is a bit of a hidden gem.

EH: I’m from San Francisco. I’d never really thought about it as a place with a tech scene. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned there are thriving tech, civic, and arts communities. Some of the initiatives we’ve learned about -- the Urban Apps and Maps program at Temple and the new ExCITE program at Drexel for example -- are strong indicators that Philadelphia is a city on the verge of becoming an exciting hub of opportunity, whether you’re a tech person, an artist, or civic leader. Now is the time to move to Philly!

SUE SPOLAN is Innovation & Jobs News editor for Flying Kite. Send feedback here.

JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor for Flying Kite. Send feedback here.

From left, Liz Hunt, Alex Yule, Michelle Lee, Mayor Michael Nutter, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation Jeff Friedman, and Director Of Communications And Strategic Partnerships Desiree Peterkin Bell,

Nutter to Philly Startup Leaders: Entrepreneurs want to come to this city, we need to make it easier

Below is text of a letter sent last week from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to Philly Startup Leaders regarding his address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and his commitment to making the city more attractive for entrepreneurs (published with permission from Philly Startup Leaders)

Philly Startup Leaders community:
During my address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce this week, I emphasized that one of the best things to happen in Philly over the last decade has been the growth of organizations that bring big thinkers together like Philly Startup Leaders. This active, entrepreneurial community inspires creativity, new ideas and new thinking in Philadelphia. Our city’s future success is dependent on the strategic use of our talent, and it is the companies like yours in the innovation sector that will create jobs for Philadelphians in the decades to come.

We have a whole community of organizations that are creating a network of entrepreneurs who are based in Philadelphia and have connections around the world. If we are to become Philadelphia, an international city, we will need to rely on companies big and small, new and established to help spread the Philadelphia story around the world. I know that entrepreneurs want to come to this city and we need to make it easier to start their businesses right here.

Through my second term, my Commerce Department and I will stress the importance of making Philadelphia a more dynamic city for startups. I recognize the value fo these companies – and of organizations like Philly Startup Leaders, which brings these entrepreneurs together – to Philadelphia’s success in the new economy. The City is here to help.

Thank you for choosing Philadelphia for your home and business. I know we can do big things, and it is through imagination, ambition and resilience that together, we will lead Philadelphia to success in the new economy.

Michael A. Nutter

For Philly Startup Leaders' response, go here.
For more on starting a business in Philadelphia, go here.

Live in 3, 2, 1: Countdown to PhillyCAM grand opening tomorrow

"There's nothing like going live," says Deborah Rudman, Programming Director for Philadelphia Community Access Media (PhillyCAM), which celebrates the grand opening of official headquarters this Wednesday.
Mayor Michael Nutter will be in attendance for the big reveal at 699 Ranstead Street in downtown Philadelphia. The fight for public access began 27 years ago, and the formal creation of PhillyCAM finally happened in 2009. The mayor will provide the countdown to live programming, a first for the public access channel. Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director, says "It is a moment that I have pictured since 1997 when I started working on the fight to get public access.  Just thinking of the countdown before we start sending out a live signal just gives me goosebumps."
Of the brightly colored HQ, Clausing says, " It's fantastic. Flexible. Welcoming. And it still has that new car smell. We  are only just beginning to understand the possibilities of the space and all the equipment that we have installed." 
The organization began life in temporary quarters at the Painted Bride Art Center, and while concurrently building membership and programming, PhillyCAM found a permanent home. With the assistance of Metcalfe Architecture and Design, a former photographer's studio has been transformed into a multilevel suite of studios, a media lab, community space, classrooms and offices. An Express Studio faces directly onto 7th street.
Rudman describes the new space simply as "fabulous, even better real than imagined," with people stopping by on lunch break to use the commons, or dropping in to use the media lab before going to see a movie at the nearby Ritz Theater.
Rudman looks forward to new studio production classes, more programs produced by PhillyCAM members, regular live shows,and connections between people who might not have met otherwise.
The grand opening takes place at 2 pm tomorrow, followed in the evening by a reception at 6 that will lead up to a live show, produced right in the midst of the party, at 7, featuring interviews with staff, some pre-produced drop-ins and perhaps a few unexpected moments. The public is welcome to both the 2 pm and 6 pm events..

Source: Gretjen Clausing, Deborah Rudman, PhillyCAM
Writer: Sue Spolan

SeedPhilly aims to connect startups with investors: "Don't find us, we'll find you"

Brad Denenberg knows how to generate buzz, and the local entrepreneur has been cultivating a high level of interest for months before SeedPhilly officially opens at 1650 Arch St. in Center City.

Part tech incubator, part shared workspace, and part online resource, Denenberg sees SeedPhilly at its most basic level as a place for entrepreneurs to connect with investors. 
Back in August of 2011, Denenberg met with me at the newly opened Milkboy Philly to talk about SeedPhilly, but more important, to talk about how I was not allowed to write about it yet. In the middle of our conversation, the entire place started to rumble, and then slowly undulate. Some kind of mover and shaker. Philadelphia's great earthquake of 2011 rolled straight through that first meeting.
Now, finally, the story can be told. In the process of meeting dozens of area entrepreneurs, investors and members of the press, Denenberg managed to make an indelible impression and create a hunger for the moment when the story was allowed to go public.
Denenberg, working with Yuriy Porytko, who is doing community outreach, has taken over space vacated by the defunct law firm Wolf Block, and is now in the process of outfitting the expanse with room for up to 50 people, half in an open area, and half in window offices flanking the bullpen.
SeedPhilly, which has applied for non-profit status, differentiates itself from other incubators and co-working spaces because, says Denenberg, the companies will be curated. "I co-founded Philly Startup Leaders," says Denenberg of the local group that runs a very popular listserv. "The same questions were being asked over and over."

It was the need for a central database of local information that planted the seed for the SeedPhilly database, which is one of the three components of Denenberg's plan, along with the coworking space and a plan to bring investors and entrepreneurs together. 
"Entrepreneurs were saying, find them an investor, and investors were saying, find them an entrepreneur," recalls Denenberg, who feels that while there is no shortage of either startups or seed money in the Delaware Valley, until now, there's been no centralized spot for meeting up.
Denenberg, using personal funds to outfit and run the SeedPhilly office, will soon be bringing on participants, who will be expected to remain for no more than 18 months. SeedPhilly will not take an equity share; rather, it will generate revenue by charging a monthly fee of $325 per desk and $700-1,200 per office, which can fit up to four people.
SeedPhilly plans to hold regular classes, the first of which is a four week Microsoft Windows Phone development course. And he plans to schedule a steady stream of investors who will give talks, take meetings, or just drop in for a casual cup of coffee and a chat.
As far as the application process? Denenberg replies, "Don't find us. We'll find you."

Source: Brad Denenberg, SeedPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Leadership Philadelphia's drive to stay current starts with connections

How does a 50 plus year old organization stay current with the latest trends? That's the challenge for Leadership Philadelphia, which has been around since the late 1950s.

Liz Dow, President and CEO, says the key is connecting the old guard with up and coming business leaders in Philadelphia. In 2012, Dow is bringing people like Geoff DiMasi of Indy Hall and P'unk Avenue and Michelle Freeman of YIP (and Flying Kite) into the fold, with plans for both to come speak at Leadership Philadelphia's Sunday Breakfast Club.
"It's our mission to mobilize and connect professionals," says Dow, with offerings like the Core Program and the Executive Program, which aim to train and provide networking for Philly's business community. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Leadership Philadelphia launched the Connector Project, with the stated mission to  identify under-the-radar leaders, study them in order to teach others to connect, and celebrate their success.

At the end of 2011, Leadership Philadelphia announced the nomination of 76 creative connectors, which Dow terms "a funky wonderful group of entrepreneurial arts people who are trusted members of the community." 
There's also the Pay It Forward program, in which participants are given money to hand to someone else and then report back. The stories are now pouring in.

Fairmount Park Art Association's Executive Director Penny Balkin Bach writes that she "matched the $50 and sent it to Creative Connector Stanford Thompson at Play On, Philly to buy 100 reeds for the kids playing wind instruments." Irene Hannan, a Senior Vice President at Citizens Bank, donated the money to a single mom she found through Project HOME to use for her children’s Christmas gifts.

Leadership Philadelphia also launched This I Believe, which formed the basis for a national radio series produced out of WHYY and airing on NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday.
Recruiting for Leadership Philadelphia's Core Program begins in March 2012, The Executive Program, now underway, concludes in June.

Source: Liz Dow, Leadership Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Disaster plan: Philly startup Near-Miss Management is a guaranteed hit

It would be incredibly useful to predict disasters before they happen. That's the goal of Near-Miss Management, a new company co-founded by Ulku Oktem and Ankur Pariyani, who met at the University of Pennsylvania, where Oktem taught and Pariyani received his PhD. 
Suppose the BP Gulf oil spill could have been prevented. Or the disaster in Bhopal. Oktem and Pariyani have created the remarkable, patent pending, Dynamic Risk Predictor Suite, comprised of three software programs and four add-ons that are able to predict major problems before they happen, saving billions of dollars annually.
"It's an area I started to work on more than 10 years ago," recalls Oktem, who is a senior research fellow at the Wharton School in the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. "We started out focusing on personal near misses." For example, if a worker slips, but doesn't fall down, that's considered a near miss and an indicator of future problems. 
Oktem says the science of close calls has been gaining momentum. It was her work with the chemical industry that sparked an interest in practical applications of a problem that was previously in the realm of academic theory. "Near misses are a leading indicator of accidents," says Oktem. If you look back at unfolding events in the aftermath, adds Pariyani, there will always be several near misses leading up to any major accident.
The software suite Near-Miss Management has developed is designed initially to address issues in the chemical industry, and will easily apply to a wide range of businesses, including airlines, pharmaceuticals, energy, defense, finance and insurance.
"We expect that once our software is running in a few plants, it will catch on very fast," says Oktem, who cites an annual loss of about $10 billion in the chemical industry due to accidents and unexpected shutdowns. "People who are responsible for risk management of chemical plants are a close knit group. The key is getting the first few companies, and we expect to do that this year."
The bootstrapped Near-Miss Management, based in Center City, includes three on the management team and five programmers. Near-Miss Management will demonstrate its software tomorrow at the upcoming Philly Tech Meetup at the Quorum of the University City Science Center.

Source: Ulku Oktem, Ankur Pariyani, Near-Miss Management
Writer: Sue Spolan

Science Center opens Bullpen coworking space, funds three QED projects

The University City Science Center does not slow down for the holidays. In the last week, it has announced a a new coworking space for emerging startup companies and a new round of funding for its QED Proof of Concept program.

The new coworking space, dubbed the Bullpen, is located inside the Science Center's Port Business Incubator (3711 Market St.)  and already has its first "pitcher" in Belgium-based Biologistics Consulting. The Bullpen offers relief from expensive office space in the form of desks, phone, and high-speed Wi-Fi, plus a convenient location in the heart of University City.

In addition, says Science Center President and CEO Stephen Tang, "Bullpen residents have access to the same services and programs offered to all the residents of our Port Business Incubator."

Biologistics Consulting, which is a participant in the Science Center's Global Soft Landing Program, isn't the only Belgian company at the Port Business Incubator. Arlenda Inc., which facilitates risk-based decision making for pharmaceutical- and  vaccine-makers, has moved into office space at the incubator, working closely with local universities, CHOP and Merck, to name a few.

On Monday, three first-time recipients of $200,000 each were announced for the Science Center's QED program, which aims to facilitate commercial investment in early stage and high-potential life science technologies.

Funding went to Philadelphia University for a new biocidal textile technology to address the high-incidence of hospital acquired infections.

Thomas Jefferson University won funding for the first clinically reliable test for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the primary form of pancreatic cancer.

Also, Lehigh University in Bethlehem received funding for a portable medical oxygen concentrator for patients with lung disease.

Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Social innovation the focus of separate competitions for women, Jewish entrepreneurs

A 2010 Edelman goodpurpose study found that 86 percent of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society's interests as on business interests. This thinking is at the root of social entrepreneurship, an increasingly used model employed by both non- and for-profit entrepreneurs to build successful and sustainable businesses.

Two local groups are looking to nurture those ideas through separate programs.

The Women for Social Innovation, a giving circle of Women's Way, is taking applications for its Turning Point Prize, a $15,000 annual award given the last three years to an emerging female social entrepreneur living or studying in Greater Philadelphia and who is developing a non-profit venture. Last year's winner, Tracie Gilbert, developed a 10-month community education initiative to help women gain tools necessary to help their pre-teen and teen daughters make healthy and empowered decisions about sexual health.

"The prize winner gains important help in navigating the challenges of establishing a new venture," says Nancy Moses, WSI founder. "It's a win-win, since our members are also enriched by the experience of helping an emerging social entrepreneur."

The application deadline for this year's competition is 5 p.m. on Dec. 28. Information on eligibility, selection criteria and application guidelines available here.

Applications have already closed for another program, the Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship – a group of 22-40 year-old Jewish difference-makers looking to plant the seeds of innovation in Philadelphia. However, the group is always looking to engage potential fellows.

Last year's fellows include Todd Baylson, the manager of planning and policy at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, who aimed to green the land occupied by Jewish religious institutions, and School District of Philadelphia special education teacher Sara Landman, who worked to utilize retired Jewish educators to increase the literacy skills of urban students and their parents. The next group of fellows take over in January.

"The Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship enables innovators on the cutting edge of creativity to work together to launch socially-minded ventures that change the world," Ben Wachstein, Project Director of Tribe 12. "Our Fellows are informal educators and community organizers, nonprofit managers and environmental activists, programmers and artists, biotech visionaries and Israel advocates."

Source: Rachel Dukeman
Writer: Joe Petrucci

PCS Technologies moves fashion forward, literally; hiring writers, programmers

PCS Technologies, located in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia, has been around for 20 years, but the past two years have seen rapid growth under the leadership of Chandra Allred.

"We just hired two people, and we are looking for more," says Allred, chief operating officer of PCS, who is still in search of a technical/creative writer, as well as programmers.

With clients that include Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie, The Gap (which also owns five brands, including Banana Republic and Old Navy), and Bed Bath and Beyond, PCS is a supply chain software firm. Their product, PCSTrac, helps companies keep tabs on millions of pieces of inventory.

"The Gap has 3,500 stores," explains Allred of just one of PCS Technologies' clients. "They use our scanning software to populate the enterprise wide system. Store associates don't scan at all. It's a huge labor savings." And a huge responsibility. "If there is an issue with our application, it's not just affecting the logistics and supply chain, but it's also affecting national and international inventory."

With under 25 employees, PCS software makes sure a million cartons a week get from the manufacturer to the store. Allred left her consulting business to join PCS in 2009. She was hired to retool the company's strategy.

"They were at a pivotal point in terms of growth. One of the co-owners of the firm approached me about running the company," Allred explains. "Since then there has been tremendous growth. In two years, our client base has more than doubled, and our installations have tripled."

PCS, says Allred, makes its money through recurring revenue. While there are initial licensing fees for its software, the company's main revenue stream comes from monthly product support fees.

"It's the reverse of a lot of software applications," says Allred. "In this industry, normal maintenance costs are 18 percent of licensing costs. Ours is completely flipped. Our software is very high maintenance. If data isn't showing up, you're stuck. It's a production environment."

Next time you're trying on a fuzzy cardigan at Urban Outfitters, it's PCS that gets it there.

Source: Chandra Allred, PCS Technologies
Writer: Sue Spolan

Change By Us launches as virtual, social Post It note for community innovation

It would be great to stick a Post It note on the front door of City Hall. Philadelphia's new Change By Us initiative, officially launched last week, offers citizens the virtual and social networked version of the Post It experience. The Knight Foundation, one of the project's funders along with The Rockefeller Foundation, also announced that it has thrown $25,000 into the mix, divided in a way to be determined, with the understanding that the funds will help facilitate community generated change in Philadelphia, according to Knight's Donna Frisby-Greenwood.

So far, says Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation in the Mayor's Office, the Change By Us website has attracted 229 users who have generated 234 ideas, from poetic to prosaic. For example: "We've started our own grassroots campaign in Old City named Scoop the Poop Campaign. Our slogan is "No Pile Left Behind," reads one note. While there are many similar ideas having to do with pets and regulation of their behavior, there is also a groundswell of support for better use of community centers and public facilities. "The way the world communicates is changing," remarked Mayor Michael Nutter during the Change By Us press conference. "As social media evolves, the City of Philadelphia is at the forefront." Of the 234 ideas, 32 projects have so far been created on the site.

An important aspect of Change By Us is connecting citizens with resources, and a section of the site, which was developed with the help of the Philadelphia's Code for America fellows, offers one click connections to the East Park Revitalization Alliance, Congreso, and The Center City District, among dozens of others.

The second city in America to adopt Change By Us, Philadelphia is following the blueprint of the recently launched New York City Change By Us program, developed through a $100,000 initial grant, according to Jake Barton, whose group Local Projects created the New York version and acted as consultant for the local initiative. Going forward, Barton announced that the Change By Us platform is open source, freely available to every village, town, city or megalopolis.

The Philadelphia initiative has its own public service announcement, created by PhillyCAM, featuring local leaders like Young Involved Philly's Claire Robertson-Kraft and Department of Parks and Recreation's Mike Deberardinis telling viewers they are listening. Kraft says, "Jeff and I were talking about the priorities of the Change By Us program, and our three choices were smarter, safer and greener." Rather than attempt to choose one of the three, says Robertson, the Change By Us tagline includes all three goals. "There are projects on Change By Us that are similar to ideas generated at State of Young Philly."

Friedman adds that Change By Us can eliminate duplicate efforts. If a community group has improved a park in Northeast Philly, people in South Philly can find out about it, reducing time and sharing resources, he explains. Response leaders, says Friedman, will monitor projects coming in to steer them to the right departments and organizations.

Source: Jeff Friedman, Michael Nutter, City of Philadelphia, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Inhabi adds dynamic control to more easily match renters with landlords

It's one thing to use Craigslist to hook up or buy some furniture. It's quite another challenge to find an apartment that way. A new startup called Inhabi adds new dimensions and quality control to the process of matching renters with landlords.

Jameel Farruk, who founded Inhabi with partner David Friedman, has a pretty sweet apartment. While it's quite small (around 300 square feet), the location is killer: right in Center City, just steps away from a dozen popular bars and restaurants, and perfect for the single entrepreneur.

"Technology should make it an easier experience for the renter," says Farruk, who likens current online offerings to a digitized version of newspaper ads. With Inhabi, by contrast, renters don't bear the full burden of finding the right place to live. Inhabi plugs properties into a database so that renters can search for things like hardwood floors, whether the owner allows pets, and if parking is part of the package.

After filling out an online form which collects details about the renter's self reported income, credit score and desired neighborhood, Inhabi offers a list of available units sortable by price, location and size. If a desirable apartment pops up, the renter can submit a request to the landlord with one click.

Farruk and Friedman met while at Venmo,  the mobile payments startup that moved from Philly to NYC earlier this year. Friedman's background is in real estate, having spent the previous decade as an agent and Vice President of Operations at the Philadelphia division of Coldwell Banker. Originally, their idea was more of a scheduling tool for showing apartments, and the pair was accepted to Betaspring, an entrepreneurial incubator in Rhode Island in the summer of 2011.

"We launched the product halfway through the program, took it to market, and decided to scrap it," recalls Farruk. While the original idea was well liked by landlords and renters, it did not help property owners screen potential lessees. "They didn't want to commit without knowing who was showing up," he says. The evolved offering benefits both parties.

Farruk is a transplant to Philadelphia, having grown up in the Washington, DC area. Philly's central location and affordable housing stock figured into the decision to launch Inhabi here. "The city's biggest strength is all the educational institutions that supply people to pick the product apart. They have no fear in telling you how much you suck," says Farruk, adding that Philadelphia is great for local talent. including designers, programmers, and people to help with marketing.

Farruk says that Inhabi is now bootstrapped, and the revenue will come in part from lead generation and in part, he hopes, from one of the many real estate investment firms headquartered here. The service is free of charge to renters, and owner and renter remain anonymous until both agree to share information.

Source: Jameel Farruk, inhabi
Writer: Sue Spolan

No NBA, no problem: These Philly6ers help you find beer

Then twenty-somethings Matt Joyce and Tim Ifill were having the same kind of friendly planning conversation a few years ago that many people have across the city every night. The friends, who in 2004 founded Philly Fellows, the organization that works to create a pipeline of talent for city nonprofits, were pondering where they could stop off and get a six-pack of beer to bring to a social gathering.

In some states, it's a non-issue. You can't walk 50 feet without running into a convenient takeout spot. In Pennsylvania, however, it's a little different, what with its complicated and antiquated liquor laws. Different levels of costly licenses, and the seemingly random stipulations that come attached to them, create a maze of sorts for six-pack hunters.

That led Joyce, 30, over the last few months to create Philly6ers, an online resource for easily locating and rating nearby pizza shops and delis that sell takeout beer. The site has approached 1,500 visitors in the last week, according to Joyce, and he is already planning a mobile app and statewide expansion (PA6ers).

"It seems to address a pretty commonly held frustration in Philly, so the general feedback has been positive," Joyce says. He is still weighing an official launch event and whether he'll try to make the site profitable. Having worked his entire career in the nonprofit sector -- most recently for the William Penn Foundation – the Philadelphia resident is mostly focused on making the site a strong resource rather than a business.

Joyce pulled data from licensing information from the PA Liquor Control Board for all "E" licensed retailers in the city. That license is typically issued to eateries to sell takeout beer. Not a complete stranger to building websites – he and Ifil built the Philly Fellows site – Joyce leaned on Google to make the data presentable and functional.

"It ties in so nicely to Google spreadsheets and forms and now something called Fusion Tables, that if you know a little bit of Excel and can make data tables relate to each other, Google makes it easy to present this data online," Joyce says. "It's fun."

Philly6ers has already taught Joyce a thing or two. For one, some areas of Philly are relative beer deserts, like Fishtown and Port Richmond, which, according to the site, are practically devoid of licensed takeout spots. Joyce wonders why some areas are like that, while most of West Philly is covered with licensed establishments. Also, Joyce has discovered that the seemingly random and usually empty seating areas at small delis are mandated by law. Topics like these are covered on the Philly6ers blog.

One thing Joyce says he'll have to negotiate is how to handle bars that are licensed to sell six-packs. While many of us have asked nicely and overpaid for a brown paper bag full of loose cans or bottles of beer in an establishment that might technically allowed to sell takeout, Joyce does not want to dilute the Philly6ers database with those bars. Rather, he wants to include only those state-appointed "R" retailers with real capacity to do so. Since that data is not easily attainable, user feedback will be key.

Joyce is thrilled that he is already hearing feedback from those who have successfully used the resource. He jokes that the 76ers might send him a cease and desist order.

"But I have to imagine the Sixers organization is just as interested in knowing which delis sell beer as the rest of us," he says.

Source: Matt Joyce, Philly6ers
Writer: Joe Petrucci
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