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2021 Themes: A Roadmap for Discovery

The subtle noise that reverberated around the globe this past New Year’s Eve, in the absence of fireworks, fanfare and celebration, was the collective sigh of a weary world, all too ready to put last year in the rear view and usher in a new one filled with hope.

The subtle noise that reverberated around the globe this past New Year’s Eve, in the absence of fireworks, fanfare and celebration, was the collective sigh of a weary world, all too ready to put last year in the rear view and usher in a new one filled with hope. For those of us atavistic enough to still enjoy a good, old-fashioned calendar, admit it: you probably flipped the page to January a little bit more enthusiastically this time around. Despite all this, we are not naïve enough to believe that all the problems facing us magically disappeared at the stroke of midnight; we understand our situation is a bit more fluid than that.

Similarly, as we zero-in on a set of themes that will set the tone for much of the Science Center’s discourse in 2021, we recognize that they have already served as leitmotifs, traversing man-made parameters of time and on some occasions, the different buildings and spaces we have occupied. To be clear, we do not compartmentalize our work by these topics. These themes are part of the air we breathe as an organization and the very DNA of our mission; around us, within us and constantly guiding us.

Rather, our goal is to highlight and present their importance through our various programs and in concert with an accompanying technology each month.

Let’s take a brief look into what you can expect from these pairings throughout the year.


January: Reboot

Technology: eSports and Gaming

With the rapid virality of COVID-19 related information, it’s vital we reset our expectations and knowledge of the facts by listening to the scientists; in our case, none other than virologist Ben Doranz, CEO and President of Integral Molecular.

Lunchtime Lessons also centered on how to stick to your goals by employing your own psychology. We plugged back in for speakers who are charting a course in the frontier of competitive gaming: SweetScience eSports marketing agency, Futures First Gaming, Adam Nelson of Philly Esports and an interactive game of Among Us.

February: Equitable Recovery

Technology: Capital

Recovery in a post-pandemic world is going to hinge on whether we include all founders and bring previously underrepresented groups into the fold.

Expect more on our newest initiative for first-time founders, OnRamp, which will deliver programming through Venture Café. We’ll also be publishing our 2020 Impact Report, which paints a comprehensive picture of our activities to support diverse groups of founders, future founders and a workforce that supports a 21st century economy. Included, Launch Lane’s blind application process that directly leads to more support for female, immigrant and minority founders, as well as cultivation initiatives like BULB and FirstHand which diversity the STEM talent pipeline.

Our monthly Coffee & Capital sessions offer aspiring or current founders an informal Q&A setting and exposure to a member of the investment community. Weekly, at Venture Café, the startup roundtable helps startups refine and perfect their pitch to prospective funders.

March: Reimagine

Technology: Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Last year reshaped the way we learn, work, make large purchases, connect and virtually (pun intended) everything else. How many of these shifts offer an opportunity to do things better or more easily in the future? And if we don’t go back to our pre-pandemic ways, have we fully understood or explored what is possible?

Design to Disrupt and Reimagine Education, our monthly “Edupreneur” Roundtable, seeks to answer these questions and propose alternatives every month, in the world of learning.

April: Sustainable Growth

Technology: The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Establishing growth is one thing; ensuring it self-perpetuates is quite another. Which decisions and practices do early-stage companies need to set-up early on, to achieve this? Also, ways that the business community can act as stewards of the environment and our planet, through practices that benefit and reduce harm to populations, cities and biomes.

May: Recreate

Technology: Cell & Gene Therapy

Sound business ideas often build off of what has already been created and improve it.

Through weekly Artist Studio Tours we get a glimpse into the spaces where artists convert naturally occurring materials and phenomena into compelling artwork. In the life sciences, our own body’s systems can sometimes be utilized to recreate or mimic defenses to both serious and rare diseases. The Science Center sources promising innovation and helps guide researchers along the R&D path, through our QED-Proof-of-Concept program, and our partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

June: Restore

Technology: MedTech

Pivoting during an uncertain economic climate or personal challenges to find new opportunities. Quorum’s signature programs and special events curate restorative vendors and activities to promote overall wellbeing.

July: Goodwill

Technology: Fintech

Why it’s important for businesses to give back to their employees and communities.

The Science Center’s volunteer opportunities are a chance to use your own skills, whether it’s STEM knowledge, business acumen or even bartending, to help others and support our mission.

Our annual RAIN Conference assembles the people and organizations that support our innovation ecosystem for a conversation on emergent and timely trends.

August: Mindfulness

Technology: Data Analytics

Training your mind to focus on the present, rather than ruminating on the past or being anxious over the future. Making decisions and acting conscientiously in business and our personal development.

September: Authentic Leadership

Technology: Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Future of Work

The characteristics that leaders possess, how they inspire others to action and how they steer businesses towards success.

With a new class of Nucleus Honorees to be recognized this same month, we’ll discuss how they are an embodiment of these traits, in their respective arenas.

October: Resources

Technology: BioDesign & Materials

A thriving ecosystem is only helpful to the extent that people are made aware of its existence.

Through forums like Quorum and Venture Café, we connect our community to resources and support, whether financial or in the form of expert advice and guidance, that’s currently available in our city. This month we will have a Retrospective of the BioDesign Challenge in our Venture Café lineup.

November: Gratitude

Technology: Robotics

Gratitude is the psychology of giving thanks and being thankful. We know that just like our other themes this theme needs to be active. It needs to not merely exist internally but requires behavior and action. As we close in on our 3rd year at our home 3675 Market and of building our Venture Café community, we will celebrate and thank you for helping us to build the largest most inclusive entrepreneurial community in the Region.

December: Respect

Technology: Digital Health

Respect for cultural differences, individuality and the environment.

Our Launch Lane Digital Health accelerator cohort will “graduate” and we will be focusing on a whole new cohort of tech and health focused startups looking to scale.