Philly collaboration aims to accelerate business

January 19, 2017
By: Ellen Marrison

Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking on a new building in Philadelphia marks the foundation of a new collaboration between a number of players that are hoping to accelerate the innovation community in the city. University City Science Center (UCSC), an SSTI member that has operated in Philadelphia for 54 years, is partnering with the Boston-area Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) as well as Wexford Science and Technology on a new space that will create a stronger group of serial entrepreneurs and increase the level of investment in the community, said UCSC President and CEO Stephen Tang. The new building allows the Science Center to expand its headquarters and triple the size of its “entrepreneur’s clubhouse”, the Quorum.

In an interview with SSTI, Tang said he is very excited about expanding the entrepreneurial space and called the new endeavor “a great mixing bowl.” It will put the serial entrepreneur in touch with people that are thinking about a startup, and expand meeting and programming space. CIC, which will occupy 127,000 square feet in the new building at 3675 Market Street in University City, brings its formula for proven success that it has demonstrated in Boston and in other cities, including Miami, St. Louis and Rotterdam, Netherlands, where it has expanded. When that formula is combined with UCSC’s local knowledge and expertise, “you bring the best of both worlds together,” Tang said. “What we are looking for is something slightly different than what we have today.” CIC, being a for-profit enterprise, has an interest in growing companies rapidly and provides a high-touch, high-tech approach for companies that are ready for those kinds of amenities and are looking to expand, he said.

The response thus far has been very good. UCSC received $2.5 million from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help finance the building. The new, 14-story building will total 345,000 square feet and is 50 percent pre-leased. It is the latest development at uCity Square, a planned 6.5 million square foot mixed-use community. The Quorum will be situated on the first two floors and Tang said it will be “more approachable and inclusive to the surrounding community.” He noted that it will be a unique approach to invite the community into the Science Center space.

Tang said the timing was right for the project and he has seen the entrepreneurial community grow in his time at UCSC. The demand for space and services was increasing, and he believes other communities can grow like Philadelphia did. He would advise other cities to “be very aware of your market and where innovation is scalable in your community. Target growth in that area. And be curious about what’s going on in other communities.” That was what led the Science Center to CIC, he said.

Tang envisions a convening place for companies big and small in the new building. He sees it being accessible and inclusive to the surrounding communities, with a “massive economic impact on the innovation and entrepreneurial community.”

The building is to be completed by the second quarter of 2018. 

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