Spark Therapeutics Goes Public

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, whose research the company is based on, owns more than half of the company’s shares.

January 30th, 2015 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

Spark Therapeutics went public on NASDAQ today, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one big winner.

The startup, based on a decade’s worth of research at CHOP, raised $161 million with its initial public offering, pricing 7 million shares at $23 each. But then, the share price ballooned to $43, raising the company’s value to nearly $1 billion,according to an Inquirer report. That made the 4.9 million shares owned by CHOP — that’s 53.44 percent of the Spark shares — worth as much as $220 million. (Obviously, this could fluctuate.) CHOP committed $50 million in the fall of 2013 when the company was formed. CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler is chairman of Spark’s board.

Spark Therapeutics is a pre-revenue company that aims to cure rare genetic diseases like types of hemophilia and blindness. Its ticker symbol is “ONCE,” referring to the company’s aim of curing, not just treating, these diseases, the Inquirer reported.

Spark raised a $72.8 million Series B led by Silicon Valley investors Sofinnova Ventures last year, and its 50 employees work out of a 28,000-square-foot office at the University City Science Center’s new 3737 Market Street building.

“Our foundation as a company has been born of the work done in West Philadelphia,” CEO Jeff Marrazzo said last fall at the 3737 Market Street ribbon-cutting. “We want to be an example of a company that can not only have its past here but also its future.”

Marrazzo (the son of WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo) owns 380,000 shares of the company, now worth around $16 million, the Inquirer reported.

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How 4 Strangers Met at a Local Event and Launched a Startup 6 Months Later

Staffluent is the first company to emerge from last fall’s PSLU Bootcamp. The company aims to disrupt existing staffing systems in the healthcare space.

January 30th, 2015 | Technical.ly guest post by Michael Riley

Last fall, 75 people attended the PSLU Bootcamp to learn how to build a successful startup. Out of the 14 teams that were formed through the program, Staffluent is the first to incorporate as a company and build a working product.

Staffluent is a service that connects available workers to open shifts with an initial focus on hospitals. Its goal is to solve problems companies have scheduling shifts and communicating with staff. Kronos is a big player in this space, with a current valuation of $4.5 billion.

Staffluent’s plan is to disrupt the industry, however, like Uber is doing to taxis, by using new logistics and communications technology.

The four founders met for the first time at the Bootcamp in September, entering the program without an idea. Over the course of the 90-day bootcamp, while working side by side, they sowed the seeds of Staffluent and formed their team of cofounders.

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PurpleCloud Technologies Helps the Hotel Industry Rest Easier

The Baiada Institute company is making hospitality management more efficient — starting with a five-star hotel in their own backyard.

January 23, 2015 | Drexel University, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship Blog

“I’ve always been fascinated by psychology,” says Adria Bagdonavicius, a 2012 Drexel LeBow grad. “Color has a very interesting affect on people. The color purple is said to affect people in a wonderful way physically. It is known to be a very calming, uplifting color.”

The effect is similar to the one produced by arriving at a five-star hotel, she says.

“You walk into a luxurious lobby and you instantly feel calm and relaxed,” Bagdonavicius says. “However, behind the scenes of a hotel is a chaotic, scrambling mess.”

That’s where the aptly named PurpleCloud Technologies comes in. The company, founded by Bagdonavicius in 2011, aims to use cloud-based software to make the back-end of hotel operations look more like the customer’s experience.

We caught up with the Shamong, N.J., native to talk about her eye-opening co-op, appearance at the first annual Drexel Startup Day, and PurpleCloud’s string of recent success.

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Twenty Philadelphia-Based Life Science and IT Startups Awarded $1.7 Million in KIZ Tax Credits

January 15, 2015 | via PR Web, University City Science Center 

Twenty startup companies in University City and Center City received a collective $1.7 million in tax credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2014 as part of the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) Tax Credit Program. All 20 companies are located in the University City Keystone Innovation Zone.

Pennsylvania’s Keystone Innovation Zone Tax Credit is a key component of the KIZ program. Up to $25 million of credits are available each year to eligible companies. Companies that do not have any tax liabilities can sell their tax credits themselves or secure a third-party, independent broker to sell the tax credit on their behalf.

Since 2006, over $6.2 million in KIZ Tax Credits have been awarded to 39 companies in the University City KIZ. “Securing non-dedicated funds through the sale of KIZ Tax Credits can be a major boost for early-stage companies operating in the life science and tech sectors” says Robert McGrath, Chair of the University City KIZ Executive Committee and Senior Associate Vice Provost at Drexel University. “The KIZ Tax Credit Program is incentive for companies to move into and stay in the City of Philadelphia and a major economic asset to our entrepreneurial community.”

Eligible companies can access up to $100,000 in tradable credits each year, and many of the awardees will invest those funds in new employees while others will purchase equipment to further develop and commercialize products and technologies. As awardee Robert Moore, Co-founder and CEO of RJMetrics, put it, “Jobs, jobs, jobs! We will use the KIZ Tax Credit to help fund our aggressive team growth. We grew from 40 to 90 people in 2014 and are planning for further growth in 2015.” …

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