Amplify Philly: SXSW Edition

In 2016 Philadelphia had its first formal presence at SXSW. Led by Philly Startup Leaders and a cadre of community leaders.

We’re planning 2017 already, starting with getting the word out about how to become a speaker at SXSW.

Check out the video with highlights from the SXSW Interactive tradeshow floor and an all-Philly lineup concert.

These 3 companies are coming to the Pennovation Center

The Grays Ferry innovation campus adds a robotics startup and two young healthtech companies.

June 30, 2016 | by Roberto Torres

Didn’t we say to expect more surprises from the Pennovation Center?

Since we told you Hershey Co. was going to be the inaugural corporate tenant at the 200,000-square-foot Grays Ferry space, three additional companies have been announced as upcoming members of the community.


Maryland-based biotech startup gets ready for Philadelphia expansion

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics recently leased space at the University City Science Center.

June 27, 2016 | by Albert Hong

Instead of relying on cancer treatments (like chemotherapy) that often weaken the immune system, a new biotech startup is approaching the problem by making your body’s natural defenses stronger.

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics, founded in May 2015 with an office in Bethesda, Md., is currently working out of lab facilities at D.C.’s Howard University to develop a better treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. The company aims to use the body’s immune system to target a specific type of protein called MAGE-A…

“Our plan is to expand our research collaboration to Philadelphia and NYC universities as well as start building a regulatory team and business development team using talents from the Tri-state area, at which point we will be getting a full office in Philadelphia,” said ImMAGE COO Mahesh Narayanan, who grew up in Delaware County and earned a master’s in biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania.


4 things all women STEM grads should know before an interview

Demand respect, know what you’re worth and more advice that tech industry veteran Yvonne Chen wishes she knew when she was starting out.

June 24, 2016 | by Yvonne Chen

If you’re a recent female graduate in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, I have good news: now is one of the best times for you to get hired.

Yes, women are outnumbered by men in STEM fields. But you’re stepping into a workpool where opportunities and smart conversations about women in technology are happening, more than ever. I’ve seen forward-thinking companies, like Etsy and Slack, that recognize the value of a diverse workforce and that are trying ever harder to correct this imbalance. Meetups and organizations across the spectrum like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code and Women in Tech have sprung into being to help and grow women in technical spaces.


City Council takes a stab at fixing procurement

It’s different than the Nutter administration’s FastFWD approach, but a new Bobby Henon proposal is meant to smooth over some of the same issues.

June 23, 2016 | by Roberto Torres

In 2014, the City of Philadelphia took a million dollars and devoted it to streamlining the procurement process. Why? Because how governments buy goods and services from the private sector can be clunky. …

Well, fast forward to now and city officials are taking another hack at procurement. And this time it’s City Council that’s getting wonky.

Councilman Bobby Henon introduced a bill last week that aims to help Philly small businesses.


Here’s a new $200 million fund Philly healthcare startups should know about

The University City-based 1315 Capital is aiming to make investments of up to $20 million in promising life sciences companies.

June 15, 2016 | by Roberto Torres

As of today, there’s $200 million in fresh investment money looking for a new home. But you have to dream big. The funding is meant for companies that “have the potential to generate $100 million a year in revenue.”

So says University City-based 1315 Capital. The growth-equity firm announced Wednesday the closing of a $200 million fund aimed at commercial-stage pharma, medical and healthcare services companies.


ROAR for Good makes Entrepreneur’s top wearables list

The University City-based company is gearing up for the release of its Athena “high-tech rape whistle.”

June 9, 2016 | by Roberto Torres

ROAR for Good, that wearable tech company we’ve been telling you about, just made Entrepreneur’s Top 10 in Wearable Wellness list.

After raising a $150,000 seed round last year, the company is gearing up for the release of its Athena product, a “high-tech rape whistle” that emits an alarm and alerts loved ones by text message at the touch of a button.

An Indiegogo campaign that closed last November raised an additional $300,000 toward the development of the product.

Original Sauce

This $10,000 Desktop 3-D Printer Makes Human Tissue and Bone

Philadelphia-based BioBots has brought bioprinting to a smaller, more affordable scale.

June 6, 2016 | Inc Magazine by Kevin J. Ryan

Inc.’s 11th annual 30 Under 30 list features the young founders taking on some of the world’s biggest challenges. Here, meet BioBots.

Danny Cabrera has been defying the odds all his life. When he was a 10-year-old living in Cuba, Cabrera’s family had dreams of immigrating to America. His father won a visa lottery to travel to the U.S., and the Cabreras set sail for Miami and soon settled in.

As an 18-year-old at Miami Dade College, he had Ivy League ambitions. So he applied to the University of Pennsylvania and was accepted as a double major in computer science and biology.

At Penn, he wanted to find a way to manipulate biology and build living things from scratch. He soon met Ricardo Solorzano, another biology major from Miami, and the two got to work building a 3-D bioprinter.

Now, Cabrera and Solorzano are the co-founders of BioBots, a startup that creates desktop 3-D printers that can produce living tissue. The entrepreneurs used existing 3-D printing components that were primarily meant for manufacturing plastics and metals and used them to build a bioprinter. The result is a bioprinter far less expensive than most of its competitors: At $10,000, BioBots products are accessible to labs that can’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars 3-D printers usually cost. And while most bioprinters can take up entire rooms and have many moving parts, BioBots builds machines about the size of a microwave.

“Imagine a world where scientists could design living things with their laptops and print them on their desktops,” says Cabrera. “That’s what got us really going.” …

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Here are 4 steps to getting more Philly speakers at SXSW

Philly Startup Leaders’ Shoshanna Israel asks the Austin tech conference’s director, Hugh Forrester, for some advice.

May 26, 2016 | by Shoshanna Israel

Philly made a killer first impression at South by Southwest in 2016.

Our delegation of startups, universities and large companies helped bring recognition to our burgeoning entrepreneurial scene and larger business community. SXSW is an excellent platform to share your organization or business’ story and help to #AmplifyPhilly as a hub for technology and innovation. Speaking at SXSW is also a great way to bring attention to your business or organization and to elevate your profile as a thought leader in an area that interests you.

Ofo Ezeugwu of Whose Your Landlord, who spoke at SXSW in 2016, emphasized the value of the conference’s platform.

“Speaking at SXSW means increased validation,” he said. “The opportunity to speak, on behalf of your company and a city much larger than yourself, is one of the ultimate nods of recognition.”

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg of Zivtech, who also spoke at last year’s conference, emphasized the business ramifications of the SXSW platform.

“Gaining access to the SXSW audience has been invaluable to Zivtech’s business growth,” he said.

Getting an opportunity to speak has some great perks, too. It enables speakers to stay in the SXSW hotel and get a free badge to the Interactive portion of the conference.

So how do you become a speaker? Philly Startup Leaders got on the phone with Hugh Forrester, head of SXSW Interactive, and asked him what it takes to make a great panel application.

1. Choose the right format

SXSW organizers have a strong preference for solo talks, as opposed to panels and debates, which tend to stay surface level and devolve without the assistance of a skilled moderator.

Organizers also encourage those wishing to be chosen to designate their talk “advanced,” which tends to be more popular with attendees looking for a more in-depth look at a particular topic (think: more than could be found with just a cursory Google search). Presentations that tend to be instructional or educational rather than merely entertaining have the best success.

More information about formatting and skill level designations can be found throughout the FAQ, and speakers are strongly encouraged to read this information thoroughly before applying.

2. Keep your talk topical and specific

Speakers should address trends in technology and really drill down to a distinct topic. Talks should be relevant and specific.

“‘How Free Downloads Hurt Radiohead’ would work better than the more general ‘Free Downloads and the Future of Music,’” Forrester said. While the former is more detailed, and therefore more engaging to an audience, it still addresses many of the same big ideas as the latter. Successful topics will be specific, but their underlying themes should relate to larger trends in technology and business.

3. Stay abreast of deadlines

Talks must be submitted several months in advance of the SXSW conference. These deadlines can sneak up on you, and since no late entries are accepted, those who wish to speak should begin to prepare their presentations as soon as possible.

With that said, talks that come in earlier (before the deadline) don’t get preferential treatment, so applicants are encouraged to use all of the time they have to prepare and proofread (there are more typo-laden applications than you’d think). This year, applications open on June 28, 2016, and the window typically closes at the end of July. Conference registration opens opens on Aug. 1, 2016 and SXSW 2017 kicks off March 10-19, 2017.

4. Choose a killer title

While the 50-character, eight-word limit on the title may tempt you to think of the title as an afterthought, a great title is essential to capturing the vote of the staff and the public, which count for a combined 70 percent of your chance of being picked. While pithy or clever titles may seem like a great way to grab attention, SXSW staff encourages speakers to avoid that route, and instead choose detailed, relevant titles that accurately describe your event. Great titles should be brief and descriptive, not punny.


Speakers should also note that, in addition to the interactive track (the business and tech portion of the conference), SXSW offers a speaking platform in other parts of the conference, such as education, film and music. More information about these opportunities can be found in the links below.

Make sure Philly gets heard and check out the application at the links below. We’ll see you in Austin at #SXSW2017.

If you have any questions, feel free to follow up with Yuval Yarden at or Dave Silver at, who are heading up the SXSW Philly initiative or check out the SXSW PanelPicker FAQs.


PCOM starts $5M venture fund

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is getting into the venture capital business.

Through a new venture capital fund, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has committed $5 million in an effort to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of health care, with a specific focus on primary care.

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