Success Story

PCI Programs and Events of Fiscal Year 2020

Celebrating and honoring Penn innovators, inventors, and partners

PCI hosted its annual Celebration of Innovation last December to recognize patent awardees and significant commercialization achievements made by Penn faculty and innovators over the course of the last fiscal year. The evening featured remarks from special keynote speaker, Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director, and successfully highlighted selected University innovators and startups, including a number of special awards that were presented to recipients across the following categories:

  • Emerging Inventor of the Year: Susan Volk, V.M.D., Ph.D. of Penn Vet, for “A novel method of suppressing the breast cancer metastasis”
  • Biomedical Device of the Year: Mark Yim, Ph.D. of Penn Engineering for “Steerable needle for non-invasive internal medical procedures”
  • Inventors of the Year: William Beltran D.V.M., Ph.D. and Gus Aguirre V.M.D., Ph.D., of the Penn Vet School
  • Startup of the Year: Verix Health
  • Partner of the Year: Kairos Ventures
  • Deal of the Year: Linnaeus Therapeutics

Pennovation moves online: Innovation @ Penn virtual pitch session

Penn’s in-person participation in the annual SXSW festival in March was unfortunately cancelled due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, however PCI was able to pivot to a virtual pitch session held subsequently in partnership with the Wharton Alumni Club of Austin. On Friday, June 5, 2020, seven startups made brief pitches to more than 60 partners and guests at the first Innovation @ Penn virtual pitch session.

The featured companies in order of their pitch:

  1. Alphagora
  2. Lilu
  3. Zero Eyes
  4. Pawsitive
  5. Prohibix
  6. Atlas
  7. Simply Good Jars

JPMorgan Healthcare Conference: Penn Innovation from coast to coast

In January more than 200 investors, corporate partners, alumni, and supporters came together at a PCI-organized showcase held at Wharton San Francisco during the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference to hear from innovative faculty from Penn Medicine and how they are leading the way towards developing novel treatments for challenging diseases.

Group Photo from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference
From Left to Right: Dr. David Brailer, Dr. Christoph Thaiss, Dr. Aimee Payne, Dr. E. John Wherry, Dr. J. Larry Jameson, Dr. Jim Wilson, and Dr. Glen Gaulton

J. Larry Jameson, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, was the stellar program’s featured keynote speaker. Dean Jameson’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion with four Perelman School of Medicine faculty leaders in the innovation and commercialization space at Penn Medicine, including:

  • E. John Wherry, Ph.D., Chair of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics and Director of the Penn Institute of Immunology, who discussed immune system exhaustion and the work of his startup Arsenal Bio.
  • Aimee Payne, MD, Ph.D., Albert M. Kligman Associate Professor of Dermatology, who focused on novel immunological treatments for autoimmune disorders such as pemphigus vulgaris, and her related startup Cabaletta Bio.
  • Christoph Thaiss, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, who talked about microbiomes and how environmental factors can influence diseases and lead to the creation of novel treatments.
  • Glen N. Gaulton, Ph.D., Director of Penn Medicine’s Global Health Program, discussed advancements of Penn Medicine programs internationally, including efforts to open a new training hospital in Vietnam.
Penn innovation from coast to coast A snapshot of the precision medicine landscape (MedCity News)

I-Corps completed two successful cohorts with 21 different teams

Since its inception in 2015, 136 teams and 297 individual team members have been trained by the Penn I-Corps program, an early stage accelerator funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and managed by PCI. Teams participating in Penn I-Corps often go on to participate in other complementary innovation-support programs such as the YCombinator, DreamIt, Wharton Venture Initiation, and the HAX hardware accelerator.

To date, 6 I-Corps company graduates are currently generating positive revenue and 33 have received a cumulative $25 million in external funding support from a variety of different sources including professional VC investors. Overall, 47 jobs have been created in the Philadelphia area by program graduates, and the President’s Innovation Prize was awarded for the past three years to teams who participated in the Penn I-Corps program. In addition, seven teams have gone on to participate in the National I-Corps program and eight teams have subsequently been awarded SBIR/STTR grants.

Spring 2020 Penn I-Corps celebrates graduates and launch of a virtual program Penn I-Corps

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