In less than a year, CIC Philly will open its doors at the new (or soon to be new) 3675 Market Street, in the heart of University City. For those of us based in Cambridge, MA, this opening is the culmination of ideas that began in 2012, when we first began exploring the Philadelphia market. What we saw in Philly in 2012 was impressive, but in the years since, it’s been the combination of new innovations and an established core, that really set this city apart. I’ve been coming to Philadelphia regularly from Boston for more than 18 months now and I’m excited about what Philly has to offer.
My sense is that this city has been hitting above its weight for a long time and the positive growth that’s come from this is real and well earned. Yet, I’ve also seen first-hand that famed modesty that sometimes keeps Philly from claiming the respect it deserves. We think the timing of the launch of CIC Philly couldn’t be better; there’s tenacity throughout the city in all the right and meaningful ways.
CIC has expanded only a handful of times in its near 20-year history. Most U.S. cities now recognize the value of a healthy early-stage business community. But very few have a plan that’s serious and thoughtful, realistic about the cost and complexity -- and led by folks who are committed for the long haul. We think Philly’s got all that and is primed for an exciting future.
Here are some of the reasons why CIC chose Philly for its next location.
1. Great universities and strong tech transfer. The universities in Philly are showing to be real leaders across academia in the U.S. for their support of commercializing campus-based ideas and discoveries. I’m a fan of Penn Center for Innovation’s website that breaks down their philosophies and processes, as well as their results over the past several years. And Penn is only one example. Drexel and Temple, among others, are showing similar commitments.
2. Issues of inclusivity and equity in the Philly startup community have moved increasingly front and center. There’s determination to move beyond rhetoric and simple goodwill. Add to it the individuals and organizations focused on meaningful change and there’s reason to be optimistic. There’s no way Philly can increase its standing as a nationally or internationally recognized city for innovation if it doesn’t move the needle significantly.
3. The startup community is legit! Bigger, well organized, and the folks involved appear to be incredibly supportive of one another. It’s a sign not only of Philly’s ability to attract and retain talented people, but it also highlights the collective belief that Philly has more to offer. There’s a movement going on and the energy behind it feels real.
4. The life science and biotech cluster in Philly is world class. There’s a diverse ecosystem of established pharma firms and new startups supported and incubated by research institutions and economic development organizations like the Science Center.
5. Partners like the Science Center, an economic development powerhouse with a 50+ year history of supporting early-stage companies, made the decision to come to Philly an easy one. We believe that combining CIC's model of highly serviced small office space with the dynamic programming and resources of the Science Center will create a strategic nexus within Philly’s innovation ecosystem
6. Carson Wentz. Being from New England, we recognize great quarterbacking when we see it….See you in Super Bowl LII?
Dougan Sherwood is Managing Director at CIC, the anchor tenant in 3675 Market Street, the first new building in uCity Square. The Science Center and CIC announced details of their new partnership to catalyze and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in Greater Philadelphia on November 29, 2017. Read the press release here.