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Amada means green: Heat recovery system lowers costs, kitchen temps for Garces

Jose Garces' Amada in Old City is known as the Iron Chef's flagship restaurant. With new heat recovery equipment in its basement that saves energy and money, the Spanish tapas restaurant has also become a green machine.

The system, installed by Scot Ziskind of Philly-based Zipco Wine Cellars, is a remarkably simple addition to the restaurant's kitchen. A closed heat transfer system unit siphons the heat from the restaurant's walk-in refrigerators straight to their water heaters and preheats the water for service. This recycled heat reduces fossil fuel consumption, saving energy and money, and as an added bonus, cools off notoriously sweltering restaurant kitchens to much more workable conditions.

Heat Recovery equipment is in no way new--dairy farms in the Midwest have been utilizing similar systems for ages. Ziskind discovered the heat recovery systems, manufactured by Mueller Industries of Nashville, and began installing them nearly two decades ago but demand was not high enough to make the service sustainable. The new emphasis on conservation and green energy however, has brought this kind of innovation back into the spotlight. Center City's Oyster House on Sansom Street and University City's White Dog Cafe use the heat recovery equipment and the now retired Philadeli had the system for years; one summer they reported saving nearly 80 percent of their energy costs.

Of course this statistic is not unusual; the beauty of the heat recovery equipment is in its simplicity and unobtrusive nature. Ziskind maintains that due to energy savings, the equipment will end up paying itself off in less than two years.

"The people that put it in were looking for a way to cut back on expenses without changing the quality of what the did," says Ziskind.

Source: Scot Ziskind, Zipco Wine Cellars
Writer: Nina Rosenberg


Entrepreneurial mom/lawyer makes business out of beauty in the gritty city

It's a gritty city, and someone's got to pretty it up. Sarah Holmes' Gritty City Beauty Company began as a personal quest for simple skin care products. "It started when I was pregnant," recalls Holmes, who had to give up tubes of topical ointment and needed a healthier alternative. She started making her own scrubs and masks, and it wasn't long before the full-time product liability lawyer saw a business idea in her afterwork potion making.

"It seemed like the more I cut out the prescription creams, the better my skin got," says Holmes, and Gritty City Beauty Company was born at the end of last summer. Holmes is also a wife and mother of a 15 month old toddler, yet she somehow finds time evenings and weekends to create and grow her line of organic beauty products.

Gritty City now carries soaps, scrubs and toners as well as all natural makeup. While the former can be cooked up in Holmes' Port Richmond kitchen, the makeup is created in a lab. While this type of product is not mandated by law, "You do have to adhere to certain manufacturing practices," says Holmes. "Ultimately you have to put out a product that is safe and can hold up to consumer use. I am very careful about that sort of thing."

Gritty City is primarily an online operation, and Holmes sets up tables at local outdoor events, where people are able to smell and test the items. Holmes was surprised to discover that she has a strong older customer base. If she had to guess, she would have placed her target customer in the 18 to 35 age range, but she actually gets a lot of buyers in their 50s and 60s.

Gritty City is also beginning to get placement in Philadelphia boutiques and has met or exceeded all its benchmarks so far. With no outside financing, Holmes relies on social media marketing, and Facebook and Twitter are driving traffic to the online shop. You can find Gritty City at Nice Things Handmade on Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia, and Vix Emporium in West Philly. Or head down to Headhouse Square on July 2, when Gritty City sets up shop at the Craft and Fine Arts Fair.

Source: Sarah Holmes, Gritty City Beauty Company
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

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

AlumiFuel maintains its power while seeking capital, government grants

A very common element forms the basis for a breakthrough portable power source. Philadelphia's AlumiFuel Power Inc. has developed a portable power system based on the chemical reaction of aluminum powder and water, according to CEO David Cade.

Using proprietary technology to strip the oxides from aluminum particles, the hydrogen generated is five times the density of a lithium battery, says Cade. "Our particular focus is portable, mobile and remote applications. We do on site, on demand power." The Alumifuel container is prefilled with aluminum powder. "The canister can be stored for years," says Cade. "You don't get hydrogen until you get water." A perfect application of the new fuel source is for the U.S Navy, which will pilot the hydrogen battery to propel unmanned undersea vehicles. Alumifuel is partnering with Ingenium Technologies for the project.

Cade is also excited by PBIS-1000, Alumifuel-powered weather balloons created in partnership with Kaymont Weather Balloons.

While Alumifuel is still "under the radar screen," and taking on a 100 year-old battery industry, Cade looks to continuing partnerships with major players like Ingenium and Kaymont to get the word out about a power source that provides 5-10 times the power of a lithium battery, is in no danger of exploding, and does not rely upon overseas oil and gas supplies.

"No one has ever commercialized this technology," says Cade. "There have been patents for years, but they have all been laboratory curiosities." The early stage company, based at the University City Science Center, is currently valued at under $100,000 and is in late development, early production stage. Cade says his partner, Henry Fong, is currently out raising capital, and if Alumifuel is awarded government grants, Cade and Fong's company could see serious growth.

Source: David Cade, Alumifuel Power Inc.
Writer: Sue Spolan

New hive for all things local and literary, Apiary, launches next week

Heard of slow food? In the age of instant communication, there is a slow words movement at hand. The Philadelphia based literary magazine Apiary is set to release its second issue on June 3 with a First Friday launch party at The Painted Bride Art Center, which includes a screening of Apiary's public access show, The Apiary Mixtape.

The 150 plus page illustrated semiannual, brought to life by a $4,000 Kickstarter campaign, has quickly attracted top names in the city's literary community, including Jim Cory, Lamont Steptoe, Nina 'Lyrispect' Ball and Janet Mason, but even more impressive are Apiary's young contributors, who represent the great diversity of culture to be found in Philadelphia.

Lillian Dunn is one of the founders of Apiary and serves on the editorial team, which, she says, reflects the diversity of Apiary's content. "Two of us live in South Philly, one in North Philly, and one in West Philly." Apiary was partially inspired by a multicultural reading series run by co-editor Tamara Oakman.

"We started out of a desire to read something exciting," says recent Swarthmore College graduate Dunn, who considers Apirary a much needed central location for writing not seen elsewhere. "Literature is one way to access other people's reality. It makes your brain light up in a way that statistics don't."

The Apiary website has a comprehensive local literary calendar that will have your head spinning, listing multiple events nearly every day of the month.

Apiary's upcoming launch party at the Painted Bride promises a cross section of Philly literary scenes, a mission the magazine takes to heart, with MC J Mase III, members of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, readings from Apiary authors, plus live music from Kuf Knotz and jazz trio Peace Love Power The Unity. Issues of Apiary will be available at the event or at these local outlets: Bindlestiff Books, Penn Book Center, Brickbat Books and Wooden Shoe.

Source: Lillian Dunn, Apiary Magazine
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

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

Port 127 game designers create an engaging ride in Hipster City

There's a new smartphone game in town, literally. If you've had enough of the aggravated avians, get on your virtual two wheeler and pedal over to Hipster City Cycle. And unlike Angry Birds, Hipster City has a narrative. "You start out living in Center City with a job as a paralegal," explains Port 127's design and coding team leader Michael Highland. "The goal is to blow all of your savings partying with friends and buying bike parts. As you move from neighborhood to neighborhood, the rent gets cheaper. We're turning the normal game progression around so that in Hipster City, you do something and get less." The final goal is to turn Binky McKee into a penniless cycling legend.

Highland sees Hipster City as more of an art piece, with an original throwback 16 bit soundtrack and very basic graphics that do a remarkably good job depicting the details of Philly neighborhoods. Graphic designer Keith McKnight faithfully recreated the orange tables at Pat's King of Steaks in South Philly, and in West Philly, you ride past hipster/student landmarks Koch's Deli, Allegro Pizza and Clark Park. At one point in the Northern Liberties map, you get to ride right on the El tracks, which Highland admits he's done in real life.

Highland says the game will officially launch for iPhone on May 19, and will take the average user about 10 hours to get to the end of the game, which also allows for competition with other players if you get lonely on the open road. Hipster City is simple to pick up, and meant to be played a few minutes at a time, taking the play through four Philadelphia neighborhoods in the process.

Highland, Kevin Jenkins and Keith McKnight all met at the University of Pennsylvania, and Alex Alsup went to Skidmore but is from this area. "Biking is nice, but harrowing at times," explains Highland when asked why the team chose cycling as a focus. "When I bike in Philly, my adrenaline is really high and I am in fight or flight mode."

Hipster City, which is entirely self-funded, also touched on a great marketing initiative which has brought them a lot of buzz without a lot of cash. Last fall, the group set up photo booths at events around the city, includings First Friday, and captured images of hundreds of local hipsters vying to become pixelated characters. There's a contest right now on the website: Visitors vote for their favorite three real people, and the top vote getters get to live forever in Hipster City. And, says Highland, cyclists from all over the world are spreading the buzz on biking forums.

"We're getting a lot of attention on international cycling boards and we're hearing that people in Taiwan and Dubai are excited to have the game."

Hipster City is unique among iPhone games in that it features a real world location, and Highland hints that other cities may soon be hipsterized as well.

Source: Michael Highland, Hipster City Cycle
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

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

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicks off this week with giant squid

Dan Schimmel's head might be in augmented reality, but the picture is pretty clear to him.

"Right now there's a giant, 100 foot squid hovering over the falls at Boat House Row," says the director of Breadboard, the art and technology program at Science Center that oversees the Esther Klein Gallery. Breadboard is participating in the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) with the free citywide [email protected], the Virtual Public Art Project. Granted, explains Schimmel, you need a smartphone or other mobile device to see the Augmented Reality squid. "That's somewhat foreign to people, but this is where society's headed."

PIFA is about to overtake the city like a giant encornet (that's French for squid) with over 135 events, running from April 7 to May 1. If bright lights in the big city get you going, check out the 81 foot Eiffel Tower replica at the Kimmel Center, which serves as festival headquarters, with a light show daily at 7 and 10 p.m. The theme of PIFA is Paris 1911, tying in with the recent French-flavored Philadelphia International Flower Show. All over the city, you can catch performances, lectures, dance parties, installations, readings, a fashion show and eleven French chefs in residence at area restaurants.

The $10 million extravaganza showcases local and international talent. Visit a day-long free Parisian street fair April 30 on Broad Street where you can ride a giant Ferris Wheel and enjoy a multitude of acts including Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. PIFA is also sponsoring daily wine tastings, crepe samples, free concerts, and French lessons.

Philly-Paris Lockdown, on April 17 at 8 PM at the Kimmel, features Philly's own ?uestlove of The Roots along with singer-songwriter Keren Ann, followed by an underground afterparty. Fourth Wall Arts hosts a special Salon on April 23 at the newly opened National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, featuring Ursula Rucker, Mimi Stillman and muralist David Guinn.

JJ Tiziou's How Philly Moves, which just raised $26,000 in a Kickstarter Campaign, will be projecting massive images of Philadelphia's dancers on the side of the Kimmel throughout the festival. Hope: An Oratorio, is a work PIFA commissioned by composer Jonathan Leshnoff, to be performed April 24, performed by The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, along with four soloists, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.

The Painted Bride, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Slought Foundation, the African-American Museum in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, WXPN, Philadelphia's Magic Garden, and the Independence Seaport Museum are just a few of the many PIFA sponsors and event hosts. Get detailed program information, tickets, and download a festival brochure at the PIFA website. PIFA, along with the GPTMC, is also offering hotel and ticket packages for the festival.

Source: Dan Schimmel, Breadboard; PIFA; GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan

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