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Philly Tech Meetup's rapid growth bodes well for region's brightest startups

In a matter of months, Philly Tech Meetup has grown into a force to be reckoned with. Rohan Mehta, founder and organizer of the monthly event, says he was inspired by New York Tech Meetup, which regularly draws a crowd of a thousand. Judging by the rapid growth of the local Tech Meetup, Philly isn’t too far behind.

According to the PTM website, 233 attended the Oct. 26 evening gathering, held at Quorum inside the University City Science Center. A show of hands indicated that over half were first-timers. PTM already has almost a thousand members in total.

"PTM exists to advance entrepreneurship and innovation in the region," says Mehta. "Our focus is on hosting productive events that engage and inspire. Our goal is to build a sustainable tech ecosystem, and that begins by convening all stakeholders regularly to learn and share."

This month, Lokalty, Spling and Ajungo gave demos in front of a standing room only crowd that was overwhelmingly male, although diverse in age and ethnicity. Of the several hundred in attendance, about a dozen were women.

Lokalty, a cross referenced loyalty program, gave the example of going to a spa, then getting a discount at a nearby coffee shop. While the startup has plenty of competition, it differentiates its offer by allowing users to accumulate universal points. Currently there are seven participating retailers, all in Center City.

Ajungo officially launched at PTM. The initiative mashes up social media with travel; notably, sports fans who follow their teams to away games. Members can connect, post pictures and reviews, and in the future, earn rewards.

DreamIt Ventures company Spling announced it has received a Series A round of funding from a Menlo Park, California VC firm, even though the startup is still in pre-launch. Also social in nature, Spling participants share and discover online media. Founders Billy McFarland and Mac Cordrey say they already have 2,000 users in the closed beta.

Philly Tech Meetup has been the darling of local startups; since February, rapid growth companies including Launchrock, CloudMine, RezScore, Storably, and ElectNext have been among the presenters. There is also a brand new Philly Tech Meetup website.

Mehta also announced the upcoming Tech Arts Beer (TAB) Festival, to take place in Spring 2012, gathering entrepreneurs from all three disciplines. You can sign up for one of the planning committees.

The next Philly Tech Meetup will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Quorum. It’s free to attend. Startups that wish to present can apply for a spot on the agenda.

Source: Rohan Mehta, Philly Tech Meetup
Writer: Sue Spolan

AssetVUE changing game in data center inventory management

When Comcast is your first customer, you know you're doing something right. It helps that Gary Aron has ties with the media giant, but as vice president of business development for AssetVUE, he has a lot more to offer than just some friendly advice.

Aron and company president Sean Cotter explain that AssetVUE has adapted RFID technology to rapidly read and inventory assets in massive data centers. AssetVUE works within the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) framework, cutting inventory time by up to 90 percent.

Aron and Cotter had worked together previously, when Cotter was CIO for the DVL Group and Aron was an executive running data centers for Verizon, JP Morgan Chase and Comcast. "We talked for a period of time about things that didn't exist," says Aron. "I said, 'Let's go after those holes in the products.'" The biggest one, says Aron, is keeping information up to date. "Building a data repository is time consuming. People purchase products that can take years to implement, and they don't take full advantage of the tools they purchase."

The second piece is validation, which takes a considerable amount of time as well, working out where physical assets sit, as well as validating information pertinent to specific clients. This maintenance level information is kept in massive databases.

Before RFID technology, the client would go in, open up the doors to a rack, count information and compare. Now, with RFID, the same data gathering happens instantly, and it's also possible to get advanced views of a rack. "With these tools, you can get a top down, or elevation view," says Cotter. "When you click on a rack, it brings up every device in that rack within a minute's time."

Asset VUE now employs three full-timers as well as two contractors, with a recent $200,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania slated for marketing and staff development.

"We have just two clients installed right now and we've engaged in a handful of proof of concepts that have gone well, so we expect that half dozen more companies will come on board," says Aron.

Source: Sean Cotter, Gary Aron, AssetVUE
Writer: Sue Spolan
 

Fast-growing software startup VCopious receives funding, expects to double staff by end of 2012

VCopious is expanding rapidly. The nine month-old, Conshohocken-based software company just announced it has received funding of an undisclosed amount from a consortium of four funders, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, Emerald Stage2 Ventures, MAG and Silicon Valley Bank.

CEO Ken Hayward says VCopious is now "into a stage of development geared toward market facing activity," and capital raised in this round of funding will go toward global expansion. VCopious also announced that Siemens Corporation has signed a multi-year agreement to use the VC2 platform, billed as the "world's first virtual spaces application server appliance." The firewalled networking, socializing and tracking tool allows people to meet in cyberspace, regardless of physical location.

VCopious already has a strong relationship with SAP, which it counted as one of its first customers. "It's a proven model," says Hayward of the technology that was built with no original outside financing. "Unlike other tech startups that are trying to raise money to build the technology, we've been out raising money to expand market activities."

The next step for VCopious is to build out a sales organization that's focused on high level direct sales to enterprise, and then find distribution partners that will move the product beyond the reach of its own direct sales force, according to Hayward. "One of the most sought-after destinations is around collaboration, ecommerce and social media. Between those, the VCopious platform is an aggregation tool for all those capabilities."

While Hayward will not talk about revenue or company growth in concrete terms, he projects that the company's staff will double by the end of 2012, from 25 to 50 employees, which is impressive for a company that only launched in early 2010.

Source: Ken Hayward, VCopious
Writer: Sue Spolan
 

Two newcomers among six startups to rake in more than $1M in Ben Franklin Technology funds

Two suburban companies, AssetVUE  in Bucks County and MobileReactor LLC in Chester County, were each approved for $200,000 investments in the latest round of funding announced in a news release on Monday from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

AssetVUE, based in Bristol and led by President Sean Cotter, provides hardware, strategies, support, assembly and upgrades for data centers. The other new investment was for MobileReactor, based in Devon and doing business as OneTwoSee, which develops products and services that allow TV viewers to use mobile devices to play along with their favorite shows and other viewers in entertaining ways that are also meaningful for advertisers.

Also funded were:

Essential Medical, Wayne: $250,000 to aid in developing innovative products for use in cardiac catheterizations in leg arteries.

Novetas Solutions, Philadelphia: $200,000 toward processing and marketing of recycled glass that is crushed through a patent-pending grinding process and used in industrial processes. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $300,000.

Real Time Tomography, Villanova: $150,000 to continue its development of state-of-the-art image processing and image reconstruction for next-generation 2D and 3D medical imaging systems. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $425,000.

TicketLeap
, Philadelphia
: $25,000 for the e-commerce company providing online ticket-selling services for event organizers also provides barcode scanning, instant credit card swiping and design and tracking services. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $500,000.

Source: Jaron Rhodes, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Writer: Joe Petrucci

King of Prussia life sciences Sharepoint provider NextDocs 'hiring nonstop'

NextDocs has probably quadrupled in the last two years, according to CEO and co-founder Zikria Syed, who says the company, a Microsoft SharePoint partner, is now in a period of 60 percent year over year growth. "We have 100 people now. In 12 months we'll employ 160."

As a result, King of Prussia based NextDocs is in a hiring way, and jobs are available throughout the entire organization, from technology and customer support to sales and marketing. NextDocs is also growing geographically, with a new office in Portland, Oregon to cover west coast operations. The company already has a presence in Western Europe and Canada, and in the next few weeks, will open another office in Japan.

When asked how many people NextDocs is hiring, Syed responds, "We're hiring nonstop. It's hard to tell. New people start literally every day. We are only limited by our ability to find people quickly enough."

In the past three years, the company has grown more than 3,000 percent; at the end of fiscal year 2010, it reported $9.8 million in revenue, and it projects 2011 annual figures at $15 million. NextDocs just received $10.3 million in Series A financing from OpenView Venture Partners.

The company, which has garnered best in class status in just five years, was founded by Syed and CTO Matt Walz in 2006. Both had been at Microsoft. "Essentially we are a technology company. We're focused on document quality management." When NextDocs began in the basement of Syed's home, it was in response to a lack of existing solutions for compliance and quality management.

Syed defines NextDoc's relationship with Microsoft as the software giant's go to market partner for life sciences, pharma, medical devices and biotech. He says that the recent $10.3 million injection will go to three areas: first, further investment in solutions and products; second, geographical expansion, and third, a deeper investment in customer support.

Source: Zikria Syed, NextDocs
Writer: Sue Spolan

Secrets of Philly Startup Weekend 2.0 revealed

It's a super awesome Startup Weekend 2.0. Tickets are almost sold out for the Oct. 14 event. On the heels of the first wildly successful Startup Weekend held in January, 2011, the second gathering has a new venue, better food and more caffeine, according to organizer Brad Oyler.

"We sold 95 tickets in two weeks," he says. "The business development tickets are already sold out. We  want to balance it out with developers and designers."


This time, Startup Weekend moves west and will be held at Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law, in a brand new building with a big auditorium and the use of a dozen classrooms, says Oyler, who helped create the first weekend at University of the Arts, which drew national attention for winner Jameson Detweiler and his team's Launchrock.

"This time around, there's a lot more hype," says Oyler. "People have taken notice, and we've got all the biggest venture capital firms supporting Startup Weekend and getting involved."

The biggest change in programming, according to Oyler, is a new collaboration with the newly launched Skillshare, resulting in classes throughout the weekend instead of just speakers all day. Also, the Drexel Law venue provides several private rooms for top secret entrepreneurial exchanges.

Otherwise, says Oyler, the program will follow a similar curriculum to the previous weekend. Friday night pitches will start earlier. Saturday and part of Sunday will be devoted to building in teams comprised of designers, developers and entrepreneurs. The weekend ends with demos, judging, and awarding of prizes, which include 4 to 5 Dell Boomi tablets and computers, plus legal services from Morgan Lewis to each of the top three winning teams.

As far as judges, the well-rounded list keeps getting bigger, says Oyler, and currently includes Gil Beyda, Managing Partner at Genacast Ventures, Basecamp Business founder Mel Baiada, Morgan Lewis attorney Stephen Goodman, Boomi CEO Bob Moul, Tracey Welson-Rossman from Chariot Solutions, and Ellen Weber, executive director of Robin Hood Ventures.

While attendance is currently capped at 120, Oyler says that's a conservative figure and may open up in the coming weeks. Currently, a few limited ticket types are still available and range in price from $40 to $75.

Source: Brad Oyler, Startup Weekend Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Drexel's Baiada Center set for expansion, to add lab for entrepreneurial focus groups

The Laurence A. Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business is about to expand, taking up residence in the soon to be constructed LeBow building at 32nd and Market Streets. Currently tucked away in a former industrial space at 32nd and Arch, the Baiada Center has been physically separate from LeBow, but that's all about to change. The business school's former home, the Mathieson Building, is now in the process of being demolished to make way for a 12 story state of the art structure. The new Baiada Center will have a light-flooded open floor plan, and will add a behavioral lab where entrepreneurs can conduct focus group tests.

A division of LeBow, Baiada has long offered full support for entrepreneurs, from office and conference space to mentoring, training and promotion. "A lot of what we do is built around the presumption that most entrepreneurs know their space, and need help building and selling their companies,' says Mark Loschiavo, Executive Director and Senior Executive in Residence. Startups, which range in specialty from transportation to medical devices, also receive a small amount of seed capital.

The current space is currently home to ten companies, notably CityRyde, which just received $345,000 in funding for its bike share technology, as well as current undergrad Bradley Ericson, whose company 3 Second Receipts earned him the title of Entrepreneur magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2009.

Loschiavo says that the vast majority of Baiada's tenants are Drexel alums, and all have had some affiliation with Drexel. The center chooses two to three companies each year, negotiates a competitive one-year lease, and reviews the startup's performance at the end of the initial contract.

While residence is open ended, Loschiavo says companies must show movement in the right direction to remain in the center. One Baiada business, Drexel Drinks, is something of an incubator within an incubator. The on-campus beverage delivery service has become a model for succession, providing turnover and training as students graduate and move on.

Founder and primary funder Mel Baiada is a Drexel alum and serial entrepreneur who credits a successful exit in the software industry. He also founded Basecamp Business, a networking tool for entrepreneurs. "The Baiada Center established a culture of entrepreneurship at Drexel, and helps the university maintain an entrepreneurial focus," he says. Mel's brother, Mark, who founded Bayada Nurses, is also an investor in the incubator, which is named in honor of their father. The new LeBow building should be complete in 18 months.

Source: Mark Loschiavo, Mel Baiada, The Baiada Center
Writer: Sue Spolan

Cluster-struck: Assessing the future of industry clusters

As America races to maintain standing in the global economy, industry clusters have been touted as a key strategy for technological innovation. While Silicon Valley and North Carolina's Research Triangle are held as bright spots where higher education meets high tech, few innovation clusters are successful. A recent column in the Washington Post dubbed government funded industry clusters "the modern day snake oil," doomed to fail.

At the third annual Regional Affinity Incubation Network (RAIN) meeting, held last week at the University City Science Center, David Finegold, Dean of Rutgers' School of Management and Labor Relations, responded. "A lot of efforts haven't panned out, but industry clusters are not without hope." He explained that early efforts were "real estate plays." What sets the tri-state region apart is the ability to build from that which is distinctive about this area, said Finegold, rather than starting from scratch and hoping that if it's built, innovation will come.

New Jersey, in particular, has nowhere to go but up, having ranked last in 2010 in U.S. job creation. While traditionally the state was a leader in biopharma and telecommunications, these industries made up a large-firm culture, and it's now time to build diverse networks, according to Finegold.

The University City District in Philadelphia is a 2.5 square mile powerhouse of commercial and institutional vitality, employing 70,000 people, according to UCD president Matthew Bergheiser. Forty percent of NIH funding in Pennsylvania is granted to projects within the boundaries of University City, and the Science Center has long been a fertile startup breeding ground that encourages organic growth, rather than superimposing ideas of innovation on an otherwise bereft area.

In Delaware, by contrast, plans are underway to convert Newark's former Chrysler assembly plant into an 250 acre innovation hub complete with living and working space, with an existing rail station to encourage commuters, and the potential to create collaboration across state lines, according to David Weir, PhD, Director of the Office of the Economic Innovation & Partnerships at the University of Delaware.

With a continued soft real estate market, Finegold offers that the way out of the recession is through leveraging human capabilities and university facilities. "We already have a great talent base here," said Finegold of efforts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, which he terms one of the most diverse regions on the planet.

RAIN is a regional network of over 40 research parks, incubators and support organizations located in the tri-state area.

Source: David Finegold, Matthew Bergheiser, David Weir, RAIN
Writer: Sue Spolan

PHOTO:

Former Chrysler Assembly Plant in Newark DE


PhillyMerge aims to connect geeks and suits to nurture startup community

In the game called World of Startup, the main characters are geeks and suits. PhillyMerge was created to help the two tribes meet on common ground, where developers and entrepreneurs can learn some slick moves from one another. It's a long standing and sometimes contentious relationship characterized by the blog Whartonite Seeks Code Monkey, in which MBAs are called to task for asking developers to work for peanuts.

The one day conference, held July 15, drew about 50 business types and coders to Huntsman Hall at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Organized by Steve Rittler and Adam Tuttle, who met at the Philadelphia Cold Fusion User Group (CFUG), the event offered an even split of speakers. Chris Stanchak from TicketLeap told war stories about founding and growing the online event ticketing company, overcoming hiccups and navigating through three successive builds.

Attorney Frank Taney, who practices at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, addressed legal issues confronting emerging businesses. Jim Caruso of the accounting firm Fesnak and Associates explained financial forecasts and projections, and helped one attendee understand why his spreadsheets were flawed.

Rittler and Tuttle said PhillyMerge ran like clockwork, with a running commentary on twitter and feedback boards. "People are really happy," said Rittler. "They like the flavor. It's different from what you usually see, where there's not a lot of crossover."

Total cost of the conference was estimated at $3000, and because Tuttle works at Wharton Learning Lab, space that would have doubled the cost was donated gratis. Sponsors included Adobe, Chariot Solutions and Duck Duck Go.

While Tuttle and Rittler did not ask this year's attendees if they played for the geek or suit side, they estimate it was about 70/30 in favor of techies. "That's a lesson learned," said Tuttle, who garnered a wealth of wisdom for planning and running next year's conference. Like a tenet heard often in entrepreneurial circles, PhillyMerge isn't built for exit. It's built for lifestyle.

Source: Steve Rittler, Adam Tuttle, PhillyMerge
Writer: Sue Spolan

CityRyde hiring developers after winning funding, validation for carbon reduction measurement

CityRyde, the Philadelphia-based startup that makes software to turn bike rides into cash, has become the first company to receive validation for its carbon methodology. "It's software that tracks every bike ride," explains Tim Ericson, CityRyde CEO and co-founder. All those accrued miles can then be sold as carbon credits as part of a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adds co-founder and COO Jason Meinzer.

The company also announced that it will be receiving a total of $345,000, half from Virginia-based New Dominion Angels, and half in matching funds from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA.

CityRyde started as a Philly bicycle sharing concept. While there are no communal bikes on the streets here just yet, in a few years, CityRyde has instead positioned itself as a global software solution provider at the juncture of transportation and energy.

The startup's proprietary Inspire software enables bike sharing programs worldwide to create a new revenue stream. Ericson explains that Inspire "pinpoints the exact amount of carbon emissions saved, so it can be aggregated and sold within the carbon space."

Eight people now work at CityRyde, which is based at Drexel's Baiada Center. "We're hiring. It's part of Ben Franklin's requirement for funding,' says Ericson. "We anticipate having pretty extensive hiring spree in the next year." Developer positions will be advertised first, according to Ericson.

The idea for CityRyde came from a visit to Paris, where Ericson and Meinzer saw Velib' docks everywhere they turned. "Bike sharing has completely transformed the way the city moves, and reduced traffic by 8 percent within a year of implementation in Paris," says Meinzer, who terms biking the fastest growing form of transportation worldwide, with a predicted apex in 2017.

Source: Tim Ericson, Jason Meinzer, CityRyde
Writer: Sue Spolan

Welcome to Quorum, the Science Center's clubhouse for entrepreneurs

"I was a Science Center squatter," says Han Cao, founder of life sciences startup Bionanomatrix, now valued at $40 million. It's success stories like these that inspired the new Quorum at the University City Science Center. Back when Cao was a struggling scientist, he occupied virtual office space at the SciCenter. But when rent money dried up, Cao camped out anywhere he could, hiding behind a column in the lobby or setting up shop by the coffee machine.

The Quorum is a well-appointed series of rooms that can be opened into one big space or divided into smaller areas. With a sweeping view of the city, SciCenter CEO Stephen Tang calls the space a clubhouse. "We acknowledge the universal need to meet people," says Tang, who feels that face time is an essential part of business success. With so many electronic ways to connect, meeting in person is harder when you don't know where to go.

Philadelphia's business and government leaders were present last Thursday to bless the grand opening of the 4,000 square foot Quorum, including Mayor Michael Nutter, Duane Morris attorney Richard Jaffe, who is the outgoing SciCenter Chairman of The Board, Craig Carnaroli, who replaces Jaffe in that role in addition to his day job as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania; Mel Baiada, founder of BaseCamp Business, and State Representative Jim Roebuck.

Upcoming events planned for the Quorum are designed to unite area business leaders with entrepreneurs; on June 20, Smart Talk: Adventures in Entrepreneurialism, Deloitte Fast 50 Secrets of Success features CEOs from some of the region's fastest growing companies giving advice to hopefuls who may one day be able to tell their own mutli-million dollar success stories.

Source: Han Cao, Bionanomatrix; Stephen Tang, University City Science Center
Writer: Sue Spolan

Navy Yard's Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster hiring five

One of the goals of the Philadelphia Navy Yard-based Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) is job creation. And they've got your jobs right here. GPIC, a consortium includes Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA (BFTP/SEP), the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center, has five available positions spread out among these members.

"This is an early wave," says Christine Knapp, Manager of Public and Client Relations at GPIC, her own position falling under the auspices of Penn State. "These are jobs that are really conducting the work of GPIC."

The available positions are a Post-Doctoral Scholar, an Intellectual Property Associate, a Program Director, a Database Analyst, and an Administrative Assistant. Knapp runs down the details. There has not been as much response to the architectural engineering post-doc scholar, as it is a highly specialized position in which the candidate would be assisting in the research and development of building systems.

The Intellectual Property Associate does not need a law degree; rather, says Knapp, the BFTP/SEP based position would take the lead in the commercialization and deployment task area. "One concern is that intellectual property is correctly managed," says Knapp. "Our companies have sensitive proprietary information, and as they are discovering things and getting them to the marketplace, we need to make sure that people get credit."

The Program Director is specifically associated with the Small Business Development Center of The Wharton School at Penn. "Each of the members is required to have a full time GPIC staff member, and this would be their liaison," explains Knapp.

The Database analyst is actually two positions, both at BFTP/SEP. "We are doing a lot of data gathering," says Knapp. "We're researching building energy use, consumption and performance." The analyst would also draw on existing databases, and ultimately the reports would be sent to the Department of Energy. "We want to be sure that the data is getting integrated and all task areas have access," says Knapp.

Finally, the Administrative Assistant will be working closely with Knapp at the Navy Yard, and ideally should be someone who can handle not only clerical tasks but also logistics, planning events and outreach engagement work. "It would be someone who is interested in moving up and taking on more responsibility," says Knapp, who expects hundreds of resumes. The GPIC positions will remain posted until filled, which is expected to happen around mid-July, but each position has its own timeline.

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
Writer: Sue Spolan


FLYING BYTES: SEPTA's TransitView, MAC founder raises $75M, and Phila. Printworks strikes chord

Flying Bytes is a recurring roundup of innovation and quick updates on the people and companies we're covering:

SEPTA launches TransitView

Back in January, we reported that SEPTA was weeks away from launching a real-time, system wide tracking program. The future is finally here. Like SEPTA's TrainView for regional rail, the new TransitView provides live updates on the whereabouts of buses and trolleys throughout the city. Also launched: SMS Transit Schedule Information, allowing customers to receive a text with the next four scheduled trips, and Schedules to Go, a mobile website function that provides information on the next ten scheduled trips.

Shah closes $72 million IPO with Universal Business Payment Solutions

Following a hot tip, we learned that Bipin Shah, creator of the MAC, was seeking $72 million for payments startup Universal Business Payment Solutions. On May 13, UPBS (NASDAQ: UBPSU) got its money. According to Shah's partner Peter Davidson, "we closed on 12 million shares at $6.00 per share. The underwriters have a 45 day option to cover any over-allotments, which they have not exercised to date." Investors include hedge fund magnate J. Kyle Bass, who purchased about 800,000 shares.

Philadelphia Printworks up, running, finding its market

The lovely ladies at the helm of Philadelphia Printworks are going full speed with their new T-shirt business. Co-founder April Pugh reports that most of PPW's customer base has come from custom work, particularly from local indie rock artists. PPW loves its rockers right back and offers a band discount. Pugh says she and partner Ruth Paloma Rivera-Perez are now seeking partnerships with retail outlets and will be selling at upcoming summer festivals.

Specticast expands with EuroArts partnership
Digital entertainment distribution company Specticast continues to widen its reach. The company, which we originally profiled back in April, announced an exclusive partnership with EuroArts, bringing live and pre-recorded events from Berlin's Philharmonie, The Sheldonian Theater at Oxford University, and Madrid's Teatro Real, according to Mark Rupp, SpectiCast president.

Source: Andrew Busch, SEPTA; Peter Davidson, UBPS; April Pugh, PPW; Mark Rupp, Specticast
Writer: Sue Spolan

Business leaders name area's top tech companies at PACT Enterprise Awards

It was like swimming in a sea of money. On May 4, The Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies hosted the 18th Annual Enterprise Awards. About a thousand business leaders and executives attended. Beginning with a VIP reception, the kudos flowed as easily as the cocktails, while down the hall a larger food and drink fest filled with tuxedo and evening gown clad representatives from Philadelphia's top law and finance firms, who networked with the area's best and brightest entrepreneurs and incubators.

Out of 27 nominees, these are the results: the Life Sciences Startup Company award went to CareKinesis, Philly's top Technology Startup Company of 2011 is Monetate, an eCommerce leader that runs websites for Urban Outfitters and QVC; the area's Emerging Life Sciences Company was NuPathe, which works on branded therapeutics for diseases of the central nervous system; SevOne was named Emerging Technology Company, following a 2009 PACT award for Tech Startup, and this year's award for a MedTech Pioneering Company was sewn up by medical device provider Teleflex.

The award for MedTech Product Innovation went to Siemens Healthcare. The venerated Morgan Lewis attorney Stephen M. Goodman received the Legend Award for his many years assisting entrepreneurs; the IT Innovator Award of Excellence went to Lockheed Martin, Information Systems & Global Solutions Defense, based in Maryland but with offices in King of Prussia. The Investment Deal of the Year went to Safeguard Scientifics for the acquisition of Clarient Inc., formerly in Safeguard's portfolio, purchased by GE Healthcare for $144 million. "It was a spectacular dinner," says attorney Michael Heller, one of the evening's presenters and Chair of Business Law at Cozen O'Connor. "It was wonderful to see such a terrific turnout among the venture capital community. The region is more active today than it was a year ago, and there's more excitement in the air regarding the VC community."

PACT judges named James Walker of Octagon Research Solutions Technology CEO of the Year; Life Sciences Company of the Year was Health Advocate, and ICG Commerce beat out HTH Worldwide and Qlik Tech to win Technology Company of the Year.

Prior to the event, three CleanTech Companies to Watch were named: ElectroPetroleum, NovaThermal Energy, and Viridity Energy. Video of the entire event is available here.

Source: Michael Heller, Cozen O'Connor; PACT Enterprise Awards
Writer: Sue Spolan

Photo : Attorney Stephen M. Goodman

Malvern biopharma startup Vicept on fast-track to get the red out

Rosacea is not a life threatening condition, but the facial redness of the disorder can be embarrassing enough to make a sufferer want to die. Rosacea is characterized by a red blush, spidery veins and acne-like pustules on the face. The condition may be intermittent or long term. Malvern-based Vicept is a specialty biopharmaceutical startup that has developed a topical cream that treats the most obvious symptom of the facial condition.

"There's nothing right now on the market that's strictly indicated for the treatment of the redness of rosacea," explains Vicept Director, President and CEO Neal Walker, MD. With $16 million in Investigational New Drug (IND) capital raised during a very tough time for the economy and for life sciences investment in particular, Vicept's prescription cream is an easy fix compared to other rosacea treatments on the market, none of which address the symptom of redness. Laser procedures are considered cosmetic and are not reimbursed by insurance; Oracea, a low dose antibiotic in pill form, affects the whole body and only targets the bumps and pimples, not the redness, according to Walker.

In contrast, Vicept's as-yet unnamed product goes after receptors in facial blood vessels, clamping them down with a vasoconstrictor mechanism and blanching out the redness. Walker is a practicing dermatologist and reports that the active ingredient in the cream has been around since the 1960s, and was originally in Afrin nasal spray.

Vicept has completed Phase 2 clinical studies and is ready to move on to Phase 3 as it continues to move the product along in development, talking with different types of potential partners for distribution both in North America and globally. The fast track company, founded in 2009, has seven full time employees and is nominated for a PACT Enterprise Award this year. Walker says he expects the prescription cream to be available within the next few years.

Source: Neal Walker, MD, Vicept
Writer: Sue Spolan
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