Apply for second round of city’s Startup PHL grants, with brain drain focus

November 15, 2013 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

If you had $25,000, how would you fight brain drain in Philadelphia?

Now’s your chance to put that idea into action. The city is looking to fund projects that will connect students with the local startup scene as part of its second round of Startup PHL grants. It’ll accept other types of projects, according to a release, but will have an eye toward those that aim to keep students in the city by exposing them to the tech scene.

Apply here by Dec. 13.

The city will choose four to eight projects and award them grants of under $25,000. It’ll come from $500,000 that was dedicated to the Startup PHL “Call for Ideas” program.


PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Nutter Announces Second Startup PHL Call for Ideas

Second Startup PHL Call for Ideas focuses on connections between Higher Education and Philadelphia’s tech community.

Philadelphia, November 14, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Startup PHL is now accepting applications for the second round of Call for Ideas, a grant program to fund innovative proposals that support Philadelphia’s startup ecosystem. Full application details are available here.

“Over the last year, the City has welcomed many growing companies to Philadelphia; Fiberlink, Bentley Systems,, SevOne, Bulogics, and Real Food Works are just a few. Each company has cited a robust startup community and access to talent as key drivers in their decisions,” said Mayor Nutter. “To continue this momentum, we need to connect the talent from our top-ranked universities to the growing companies, which need a well-educated workforce to flourish.”

The Call for Ideas program provides small grants to organizations with ideas or initiatives that best meet the objectives of Startup PHL. These objectives are:

  • Increasing business and job creation in Philadelphia;
  • Enhancing collaboration between organizations that support entrepreneurs;
  • Fostering networks and creating space for entrepreneurs to develop businesses and connect with mentors, advisors, talent and capital;
  • Continuing integration between Philadelphia’s higher education institutions, students and startup community; and
  • Creating an environment that attracts new entrepreneurs and encourages graduates from Philadelphia’s higher education institutions to remain in the city.

While all submissions are welcome, this second round of Call for Ideas is focused on creating more connections between students and the startup community that will ultimately lead to more people staying in Philadelphia after they graduate.

Creating better connections between Philadelphia’s university and startup communities is also a priority for Philly Startup Leaders, the largest and most active community of startup entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia Region. The group recently convened a session between local startup leaders and the leaders of student-led entrepreneur groups.

“Not only are our members continually looking for top talent, but just as important is the infusion of energy that comes from student startups to the startup community. We want students to look at the resources that exist here and see Philadelphia as a place where their company can thrive. That’s why we’re working closely with student groups like nvigor, which is connecting students across schools,” said Philly Startup Leaders Board Chair Bob Moul.

Mayor Nutter launched the first Startup PHL Call for Ideas in October 2012 as part of the larger Startup PHL initiative. Six Call for Ideas grants were awarded in March 2013.

“In the past year, the City has worked closely with a number of organizations who are working to support the growth of startup companies and entrepreneurs across the city and across diverse industries,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger. “This program allows us to bolster the great work that is already happening here, which ultimately leads to more business and job creation in Philadelphia.”

2013 Call for Ideas Grantee Update:

  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners/Campus Philly received $25,000 to create a Targeted Internship Matching Program and placed 10 Philadelphia-area university students at BFTP portfolio companies in Philadelphia in the summer of 2013. The program provided Philadelphia startups with talent while connecting college students to startups/mentors, increasing the likelihood that the students will stay in Philadelphia post-graduation.
  • Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce received $18,400 to develop an online Entrepreneur’s Resource Directory. The directory provides a centralized online resource for entrepreneurs to find information on funding sources, professional and technical expertise, specialized facilities and professional services.
  • The Enterprise Center, Center for Culinary Enterprises, Philly Food Innovation Program received $15,000 to develop a technical workshop series for early to middle-stage food entrepreneurs. Topics included culinary math, food safety and labeling, and hospitality law. These workshops, which occurred in the summer 2013, were filmed and will be posted to The Enterprise Center website as well as available publically.
  • PhillyCORE Leaders received $15,000 to support the Supporting Entrepreneurship in Education (SEED) program, which included a pitch event for education entrepreneurs to compete for funding held in October 2013. The winning teams will participate in the Fels Institute Social Innovations Lab in 2014 to further develop their ideas.
  • Startup Corps received $20,000 to support the expansion of a high school entrepreneur program that provides programming to a diverse range of teenagers looking to develop entrepreneurial skills and build businesses. Startup Corps is on-track to serve 200 students in 2013.
  • VentureF0rth was awarded $25,000 to create a “community commons” space at the existing VentureF0rth co-working facility that will provide an increased range of services to the startup community, including daytime programming, job training for individuals looking for work in the technology sector and an increase in the number of entry-level low-cost spots available to entrepreneurs.

Startup PHL also includes the Startup PHL Seed Fund, a $6 million seed stage investment fund, in which both the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and First Round Capital have invested $3 million. The Seed Fund announced its first investment in Real Food Works in October 2013; the company moved to Philadelphia because of the award.

PIDC President John Grady said, “Real Food Works is a great demonstration of how the Startup PHL Seed Fund is increasing the availability of seed-stage capital to help make the City an attractive place for entrepreneurs. Call for Ideas is the perfect complement to the Seed Fund. Together they make Startup PHL a powerful program and Philadelphia an attractive and supportive environment to launch and grow a business.”

Full application details for the second Call for Ideas can be found at Applications are due by December 13, 2013. Applications are reviewed by a selection committee comprised of representatives from the City of Philadelphia, PIDC, and members of the entrepreneurial community.

Startup PHL:
Startup PHL is a collaborative effort between the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). The Startup PHL Seed Fund is an effort by the City of Philadelphia and PIDC to increase the availability of investment capital for Philadelphia-based startups. The Startup PHL Call for Ideas is a grant program to support innovative proposals for ideas that support business creation and entrepreneurs of all stripes in Philadelphia. More information about the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce can be found at

Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation:
Beginning in 1958 as a non-profit joint venture between the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, PIDC is Philadelphia’s economic development corporation. In the past 55 years, PIDC has invested more than $11.4 billion in Philadelphia supporting $21 billion of total project costs. Currently managing a diverse loan portfolio in excess of $600 million, PIDC brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to structuring real estate and financing transactions that attract investment and create and retain jobs in the City of Philadelphia. PIDC has partnered with First Round Capital to create a $6 million public/private venture fund, the Startup PHL Seed Fund. Both PIDC and First Round Capital have invested $3 million and First Round Capital manages the fund increase the availability of investment capital for Philadelphia-based entrepreneurs.