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Local bipartisan effort to boost life sciences aims to maintain region's edge

Concerns about money are raising the legislative roof at the federal level. Meanwhile, jobs and innovation are flowing out of the US and into China, India and the EU. The US biopharmaceutical industry is undergoing major changes. Hundreds of small and medium sized firms require intensive capital to conduct research. Major players in the industry, including Sanofi-Aventis,Merck, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have cut more than 43,000 jobs nationwide as of September 2010. Health care reform adds more uncertainty to the industry at large.

Rather than attempt to allocate nonexistent federal money for life sciences research and development, Representatives Chakah Fattah, Allyson Schwartz, and Pat Meehan, along with Senator Robert Casey Jr., have a plan to provide money on a national level for the life sciences industry though tax incentives. On July 25, the bipartisan group introduced The Life Sciences Jobs and Investment Act of 2011 at the University City Science Center, a locus of life science research.

"This legislation is about inventing the future," says Casey. "In Pennsylvania, we don't wait for events to overtake us."

Southeastern Pennsylvania's political leaders have a vested interest in life sciences, according to Schwartz, who pointed to the concentration of teaching hospitals, medical research and life science entrepreneurs here.

"It's one of the aspects of the American economy where we are still leading, but we won't continue if we can't compete," said Meehan, who stressed that the bipartisan effort will have a much better chance of passing. Schwartz added, "It's not an easy time to get anything done in Washington."

The legislation, introduced on July 25, doubles the credit from 20 to 40 percent for the first $150 million of life sciences research and development. Also, to encourage domestic productivity, companies that bring foreign profits back to the United States will enjoy a reduced tax rate, as long as those funds that are used to hire domestic scientists and researchers and make new investments in American research and development.

Source: Robert Casey Jr., Allyson Schwartz, Pat Meehan, US Congress
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly science program going national

A partnership between the Franklin Institute and the Free Library of Philadelphia designed to grow young scientists is going national. LEAP into Science began as an offshoot of the library's afterschool homework help program. This year, 10 sites in urban centers nationwide will adopt LEAP, which encourages science and literacy learning among children and their families.

"We received National Science Foundation funding to pilot and develop the program," says Dale McCreedy, Director of Gender and Family Learning Programs at the Franklin Institute. LEAP has used the four year, $1.1 million grant for programs in 33 library branches across the city, taking advantage of the library's vast trove of science books for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The two originating institutions, which sit across the Parkway from one another, have overlapping missions, says McCreedy, in trying to reach multiple age levels and supporting lifelong learning, combining the library's resources with the Franklin Institute's strengths in informal science education.

While the original model was set up in a library, nationally, the program may look different, according to McCreedy, with workshops and enrichment sessions held in museums and schools in addition to libraries. A recent expansion conference held in Philadelphia brought together stakeholders from across the country to consider curriculum and goals as they design and launch their own programs. The national expansion program received 30 applications for the 10 available spots in the first phase of the NSF funded initiative.

LEAP into Science now employs around 54 people in Philadelphia, with a dozen teens who serve as leadership assistants, some of whom have moved up the ranks to become associate leaders.

This is the third locally launched program out of the Franklin Institute that's gone nationwide, says McCreedy, who cites two initiatives in collaboration with the Girl Scouts that have expanded to 90 sites around the country.

Source: Dale McCreedy, Franklin Institute
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


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

New Campus Philly program looks to extend the summer job to full-time

A college internship can be the first step to landing a full time job. Tonight, Campus Philly launches My Philly Summer, a new program to convert the city's summer talent into full time employees. The initiative is a kind of career alchemy that mixes equal parts fun and networking in the city's coolest neighborhoods.

Deborah Diamond, President of Campus Philly, says, "It seemed like a lost opportunity to have interns living and working here and no one to show them all the fun." My Philly Summer provides a place to make great contacts and even land a full time job.

My Philly Summer 2011 is a trio of events designed to thrill and captivate the newest members of the city's workforce. WHYY, Deloitte, Independence Blue Cross, TD Bank, the Mayor's Office and NFL Films are supplying a total of 125 interns.

Tonight, June 28, My Philly Summer kicks off at North Bowl Lounge & Lanes on Second Street in Northern Liberties. In attendance will be local luminaries to share their career experiences. The roster includes Tayyib Smith, publisher of two.one.five magazine and founder of ad agency Little Giant Media; Alex Hillman, co-founder of Indy Hall and an accomplished developer behind the blog Dangerously Awesome; and Alan Joinville from the professional network Young Involved Philadelphia.

The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Campus Philly is running a free shuttle starting at 5 from 15th and JFK Boulevard. Guests are required to RSVP. Free food and soft drinks will be on offer.

In July, My Philly Summer goes south to The Navy Yard for a tour and party featuring special guest Mayor Michael Nutter, and in August, party people take over Eastern State Penitentiary for a tour and talk about the city's arts and culture.

The only similar program in the United States is in Memphis, says Diamond, where young professionals are treated to The Summer Experience. Campus Philly was in touch with that program's organizers to shape Philadelphia's series.

Funding for My Philly Summer 2011 comes from Campus Philly's general operating budget, which is supported by its 26 college partners and the City of Philadelphia. The events are completely free for both interns and employers.

Source: Deborah Diamond, My Campus Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Student business plans out of North Philly, Bustleton take NFTE honors

It's never too soon to start your own business. Two Philadelphia high school students have won a business plan competition hosted by the Philadelphia chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Bianca Nieves, a senior at Esperanza Academy in North Philadelphia, won for a business based on her grandmother's Hispanic spice recipe, called Grandma's Secret.

Viktor Vabishevich, a junior at George Washington High School was the runner-up for Vito Lawns, a landscaping business that's already quite successful. Based in the Somerton section of Northeast Philadelphia, Viktor reports he takes care of around 40 neighbors' lawns after school and has made enough money to purchase two cars, while saving up for college.

Philadelphia NFTE serves over 1,500 students in 20 area schools. "These kids are coming from environments where they don't have the luxury of spending time with video games," says Sylvia Watts McKinney, Executive Director of NFTE Philadelphia. "These are kids with innately good business acumen, and they're put before a group of people who encourage them to take advantage of that talent."

NFTE's mentoring program runs throughout the entire school year, bringing dozens of area business leaders to high school students. McKinney reports that over 60 volunteers and judges participate. "Not only do we go to schools and teach them, but there are also opportunities throughout the year to meet entrepreneurs at Drexel and Community College of Philadelphia, helping students to build a resume, and teaching them how to get a job. We have coaches at Wharton and Temple." By bringing students to college campuses, says McKinney, the NFTE program demystifies the academic experience for kids who may be the first in their families to go to college.

McKinney reports that this year's business plan presentations were quite sophisticated, and in many cases could go head to head in competitions with adults. Vabishevich, who received a check for $1,000, and Nieves, who was awarded $1,500, will now advance to the national competition, held this fall in New York City.

Source: Sylvia Watts McKinney, NFTE; Viktor Vabishevich, Vito Lawns
Writer: Sue Spolan

Science Center welcomes five early stage companies in lifesci, investment, and medical devices

Days before longtime tenant BioNanomatrix announced its move to San Diego, the University City Science Center recently welcomed five new companies, and continues to be an incubator for both startups as well as international companies wishing to establish a U.S. base and national companies hoping to move into the Philadelphia market.

The new tenants include life science companies Longevity Biotech, Claremont, and Epitek, Inc.; investment firm Karlin Asset Management; and Parsortix, Inc. a French company that specializes in the transportation and medical equipment sectors.

Scott Shandler is co-founder of Longevity along with Dr. Sam Gellman of the University of Wisconsin. "Longevity develops market leading, novel therapeutics for both rare and widespread diseases," explains Shandler, who has a dual background in finance and biochemistry.

Longevity's primary product is the proprietary Hybridtide platform, developed at Gellman's academic lab in Wisconsin, enables the development of new therapies to treat a range of diseases including primary arterial hypertension, small cell lung cancer, type II diabetes and HIV, according to Shandler. Longevity currently has a contract with Fox Chase Cancer Center. "The exciting science in Dr. Gellman's labs together with the increasing lack of products within the Big Pharma pipelines led me to commercialize this line of work," says Shandler.

Claremont's sole employee is Blandine Chantepie, the U.S. director of sales and business development. Chantepie fell in love with Philadelphia in general and the University City incubator in particular, having already occupied space at SciCenter while working for Claremont parent company Ballina Capital group.

Claremont's two divisions have quite different client bases. Its medical device division manufactures a laser for dental use. "They have been selling around the world, and are strong in Europe and Korea," says Chantepie. Now the company wants to make inroads into the U.S market. Already past the hurdle of FDA approval, it's just a matter of setting up a sales and distribution network, which is already showing early success. Chantepie cites the proximity of Penn Dental School as a selling point for the company's location.

Calremont's train parts division looks to Amtrak and SEPTA for major contracts, and Chantepie says that Philadelphia's central spot along the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor is ideal. Many of Amtrak's corporate offices are right here in Philadelphia in the floors above 30th Street Station. Chantepie anticipates hiring employees within the next six to twelve months.

The remaining three companies moving into the SciCenter are early stage investor Karlin Asset Management, a Los Angeles based firm with $1 billion in equity capital; life sciences firm Epitek develops treatments for radiation exposure and methods of radiation prevention, and Parsortix is a particle separation company founded in 2006 that is developing applications for stem cells, oncology, pre-natal diagnostics and bacteria.

Source: Blandine Chantepie, Claremont; Scott Shandler, Longevity
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

Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel announce historic partnership

Sixteen tons of dinosaur bones. Let's start in a lab somewhere in the vast reaches of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Drexel University paleontology professor Kenneth Lacovara has been using the Academy's research facilities for over a decade.

The Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University have announced that they are joining forces. Pending approval of both boards, the Parkway stalwart will henceforth be known as The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Drexel will take over management of the Academy's $61 million endowment. It is an innovative strategy that could set a standard for institutional partnerships nationwide, says Gary Steuer, head of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy for the City of Philadelphia. Compared to its West Philadelphia neighbor Penn, Drexel has not had signature cultural facilities, adds Steuer.

In what Lacovara terms a win all around, leveraging scientific assets at both institutions, students and faculty at Drexel will have access to one of the greatest science collections, rated top-10 worldwide, and the museum will have access to Drexel's growing Media Arts and Design school to enhance exhibit design. Lacovara points to grad student Evan Boucher who digitally reconstructed and animated a 65 million year-old crocodile whose bones were discovered right across the Delaware in Sewell, N.J.

The Academy is "much more than a place for school trips," says Steuer, who views the Drexel/ANSP partnership as marrying a 19th century museum with forward thinking technological creativity.

Source: Ken Lacovara, PhD, Drexel University; Gary Steuer, City of Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Success is the main dish at Philly Side Arts

Some creative types are great with ideas, but not so great with promotion. That's where Philly Side Arts steps in to offer career building marketing and promotional services for individuals and businesses in the world of art. It's run by C. Todd Hestand, who is also a part time instructor at The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at The University of The Arts.

"About five years ago, a group of friends and I would get together to talk about our artwork. None of us had a website or representation," says Hestand.

Hestand put up the starting capital to build a site in which every artist had his or her own page with images and contact information. "We found opportunities at a better pace as a network than being frustrated individually," reports Hestand, who has just relaunched the Philly Side Arts site with tiered membership levels. Basic membership is still free. For individuals, the initial entry level allows you to upload five images, contribute to the blog, write your own profile and identify yourself as a Philly Side Artist. Businesses, such as galleries and collectives, can post basic information and a logo. A Premium level upgrade, which is just $5 a month for artists and $10 for businesses, greatly increases the amount of information on member pages.

Growth since the tiered launch surprises even Hestand, who reported that during our short interview, two new premium members signed up.

"Membership doubled in April 2011," says Hestand, who counted at the time of the interview 500 artists and 100 businesses on the roster, with about 25 percent at the premium tier. "The point is that the economy is changing. We have to accept what the new economy is going to look like, and where the growth potential really is," says Hestand. "The easiest thing for people to approach as a new source of revenue or employment is to be creative and just make something. It's a huge emerging section of our economy."

Side Arts allows people to spend time creating, not looking for opportunities. As for the name, Hestand drew inspiration from Tony Hawk's skateboarding video game series. One of the skate parks in the game is based on Philadelphia's JFK Park, but for legal reasons, was renamed Phillyside Park. Hestand separated the word because he envisions a future where there will be a multitude of cities in the Side Arts franchise. Watch out, Chicago Side.

Source: C. Todd Hestand, Philly Side Arts
Writer: Sue Spolan

Shorter books, longer life: Wharton Publishing goes digital

With ebooks on the rise, The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania has launched Wharton Digital Press. Under the direction of Professor Stephen J. Kobrin, who is also an international economics expert at the school, Wharton is going full speed into the digital world in a partnership with Constellation, a division of the Perseus Books Group, which will handle distribution as well as print on demand requests for hard copies of books.

"I took over Wharton School publications 3 years ago," says Kobrin. "A year ago, a depression hit the market. Given our size, having published 81 books in a seven-year period, we got every excited about digital and ebooks and see it as a tremendous market opportunity which can bring a lot to the school in terms of understanding and participation."

Kobrin says that going electronic allows for the addition of graphics, video and animation.

"We think there is a lot of potential for ebooks, and demand will build over the next few years."

He adds that in addition to the multimedia aspect of electronic publishing, there's a lot of flexibility with book length, and does not think the typical 250 page book is the way to go. "We want authors' ideas expressed exactly in the way they should be." Shorter titles may be ten thousand words; longer books can approach sixty thousand. You might think that authors are all from the Wharton faculty. Not so, says Kobrin, who reports that 60-70 percent of writers will be unaffiliated with the school, but the editorial board is made up of Wharton faculty. Kobrin points to the demise of brick and mortar bookstores, and says that the Digital Press will use all the Wharton name has to offer regarding marketing and promotion, responding to the rapidly changing world of book sales.

Wharton Digital Press will launch three business titles in June, from authors Michael Useem, Peter Fader, and Mauro F. Guillem.

Source: Stephen J. Kobrin, The Wharton School
Writer: Sue Spolan

Temple uses tech to partner with Liverpool school and dance across the Atlantic

A Temple University professor is teaching a dance class in England from his office in Philadelphia. Two dance instructors have teamed up for an international dance collaboration between students at Temple here in Philadelphia, and Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. Using the internet, dancers on both sides of the Atlantic learn and perform together. Earlier this month, Temple participated in the LJMU Spring Dance Festival without leaving Philadelphia. The performance is part of a four year project, culminating this fall, to push the boundaries of dance instruction and performance using technology.

Professor Luke Kahlich, Director of Temple's Center for Research in Dance Education, connected with Pauline Brooks of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK at an international dance conference in 2006. "What happens if we try to challenge the creative process over the internet?" Adapting existing teleconferencing tools, the two schools set up cameras in dance studios in Philly and Liverpool, allowing dancers to practice and eventually perform together.

Students added their own spin with Skype, Facebook, YouTube and online chat.

"Dancers are so used to having their bodies next to another human body," says Kahlich.

Over time, that sense of distance faded. A field trip to Liverpool helped, but Kahlich also remarked that his students are way ahead of him technology wise, and are used to remote communications in so many other areas of their lives. Dance pieces were choreographed through video. Kahlich says that every Friday morning for three hours, he sat at his desk in Philadelphia and worked via the internet with the group in Liverpool, where students were divided into two practice studios.

"I would see both groups in different spaces on my computer," he says. "At the end of the session, they would come into one space, and I would be a giant head on a screen in Liverpool. At the same time we archived sessions from different angles. I could access all of those to send notes for the next rehearsal."

The resulting dual performances in front of an audience took place in both locations simultaneously, with remote dancers projected life size on a screen in the theater of the corresponding event.

The Liverpool-Philly dance collaboration follows a larger trend in higher education, says Kahlich. More and more job postings require teachers to be tech savvy. And students add that dance needs to keep up with the technological world as well.

Source: Luke Kahlich, Temple University
Writer: Sue Spolan

Viridity teams with Jefferson on smart grid, big battery

Thomas Jefferson University takes up a pretty big footprint in Center City, with a 13 acre campus just west of Washington Square. This week, Viridity Energy announced that it's partnering with Jefferson to provide an innovative energy storage program to optimize the University power grid.

On the heels of a smart grid project for SEPTA, Conshohocken-based Viridity approached Jefferson to gauge interest in a two-part program aimed at achieving optimal value from the school's wind power purchase. Audrey Zibelman, President and CEO of Viridity, notes that Jefferson is very forward looking in terms of how to manage energy, citing the university's recent acquisition of one-third of the electricity supply from Iberdrola Renewables' 102 megawatt Locust Ridge II wind power project located in Schuylkill County.

"Hospital demand is pretty flat. It doesn't peak. It's round the clock," explains Zibelman. But wind power is intermittent, and tends to be strongest at night. Sometimes the transmission system between the wind farm and the hospital is unavailable due to congestion. The environmentally-friendly solution is a giant battery to be installed on-site, which will store wind power when it's cheapest and most abundant, coupled with Viridity's dynamic load control optimization system. Viridity's proprietary VPower smart grid platform combines software with hardware to balance system loads, so that Jefferson can get the most cost efficient combination of wind power and traditional electric. When there is a surplus, VPower is set up to sell the energy back to the grid for a profit.

Zibelman says right now the project is in the planning stages. The company is in the market for a 1 to 1.5 megawatt battery, ranging in price from $750,000 to $3 million depending on vendor, chemistry, capacity and peripherals.

 "The battery will not always be providing physical reliability," says Zibelman, "but it will always provide economic reliability. It's a revenue source that pays for itself." Jefferson's combination of Viridity's VPower technology coupled with the giant battery will create a micro energy community in the heart of Center City.

Source: Audrey Zibelman, Viridity Energy
Writer: Sue Spolan

Gift of $20M in rare manuscripts allows Penn to boost pages, pageviews, hire curator

University of Pennsylvania alum Larry Schoenberg has been collecting manuscripts for decades, and over the past twenty years has been sharing parts of his collection with scholars at his alma mater. This week, Penn Libraries announced the acquisition of 280 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts from Schoenberg, valued at $20 million, and part of the agreement is the creation of The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies.

Philadelphia is an international mecca for rare books, with world class collections at The Free Library of Philadelphia (the largest with over 2,000 manuscripts), The Library Company of Philadelphia, The Rosenbach Museum, and Bryn Mawr College. The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries lists 35 members.

Back at Penn, the goal with the Schoenberg Collection is to digitize the whole thing so that anyone in the world can access these historic documents without having to come to Philadelphia. Right now, the online collection is scattered among several sites, and with the exception of the recently launched Penn in Hand, many of the manuscript indexing pages are difficult to navigate.

"What we've done is made a commitment to the Schoenbergs to recatalog all the manuscripts according to the library standard," says Joe Zucca, Director for Planning and Communication for Penn Libraries.

The goal is to have all items scanned by 2012 to meld with Schoenberg's philosophy of combining rare and unique material with digital technology. Meanwhile, says David McKnight, the Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the 6th floor of Penn's Van Pelt is now undergoing an estimated $18 million renovation of the 6th floor, the Special Collections Center, to serve as home for the new institute, which will include classrooms and a digital media lab. McKnight is actively looking to hire a curator for The Schoenberg Institute, and is optimistic that the library can fill the position by the beginning of the new academic year. McKnight says that in addition to digital access, the Institute and its holdings will also be open to the public.

Source: Joe Zucca, David McKnight, Penn Libraries
Writer: Sue Spolan

CHOP Idol: Seacrest creates multimedia center at Children's Hospital

Ryan Seacrest! Is awesome! The media mogul has chosen Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to build The Voice, a state of the art multimedia studio. The Voice, a freestanding broadcast center funded by The Ryan Seacrest Foundation, is being built in the main lobby of CHOP, in the Colket Atrium. It will be accessible from the hospital's 34th street entrance and will serve CHOP patients and their visitors and families as a much-needed distraction.

Elana Brewer, CHOP's Director of Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy, explains the setup: "Within the actual physical studio, there is a space designed for a DJ, as well as tabletop space for up to five patients, family members, siblings, celebrity visitors or guests to interact with the DJ."

Off mic, there will be additional seating for children who want to come to the studio but may be less inclined to jump on the mic. Two video cameras will capture the action in the studio, and the entire audio and video feed will be available throughout the internal TV system in the hospital buildings. Due to legal and privacy issues, Brewer says The Voice broadcasts will be strictly in-house, aimed exclusively at patients, families, friends and staff.

The Voice is designed so that passers by in the lobby can peer in through the curved glass partition, and its location in the atrium means that rooms and balconies overlooking the vast open space will have a direct line of sight into the broadcast center.

Brewer explains that tween, teen and young adult patients are the target audience for participation. It's a bit of a forgotten age, because younger children use playrooms, but there's not a lot to keep the older set happily occupied. "It's a great distraction," says Brewer. "The chance to use a state of the art studio will have a normalizing effect, and will give patients a sense of control often lost in the hospital environment." Brewer looks to The Voice as a creative outlet and a great opportunity for socialization, which is especially important for the adolescent population. Kids who are unable to leave their rooms will still be able to participate through on-air trivia quizzes and giveaways.
Seacrest selected CHOP as the second children's hospital in the country to be outfitted with The Voice. The flagship is at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Hospital. The Philadelphia location is scheduled to go live this summer.

Source: Elana Brewer, CHOP
Writer: Sue Spolan
141 Higher Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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