Also new this year: RAIN will segue into Venture Café where we'll continue the conversation with sessions focused on unconsiouc bias, the stigma of mental health and more.
But what is RAIN? Why did it start and how has it evolved? Read on for a brief history of our annual conference.
In conjunction with the 2009 Association of University Research Parks (AURP) Regional Meeting in Philadelphia the Science Center decided to develop a half-day of content focused on best practices of research parks and innovation districts. About 40 attendees convened in a (pre-Quorum!) conference room in our previous location at 3711 Market Street. Over the next few years we expanded that group to include incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces. From there we evolved our target audience to include more generally, the people and organizations that support entrepreneurship across the region. We’ve been laser-focused on ensuring we’re inclusive of the 11-county region that makes up Greater Philadelphia, with speakers representing not only institutions in Philadelphia but its suburbs, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware.
Today our RAIN credo is to convene the community that supports innovation and entrepreneurship in Greater Philadelphia and explore ways to make the startup community more vibrant, connected and accessible.
If you’ve attended RAIN in the last few years, you’ll see that the network and the community of people who support entrepreneurship in the region has grown tremendously. And that’s something to celebrate.
Here’s a look at some of the speakers, organizations and topics covered over the last few years.
Christopher Wink of Technical.ly Media gave keynote remarks at the RAIN 2014 Conference, PHL 2.0: Developing a Next-Generation Innovation Hub. The remarks were followed by a panel focused on Best Practices in Developing & Sustaining an Entrepreneurial Hub that featured representatives from the Venture Café Foundation in Boston, Harlem Biospace, 1776 in D.C. and the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) in Baltimore.
The panel was followed by flash presentations on startup paths to growth, highlighting support they received and resources that would have helped. Among those flash presenters were familiar names like Morgan Berman of MilkCrate, Chris Cera of Arcweb, and Bob Moore who, at the time, was heading up RJMetrics.
Ron Rock of Point.io gave the keynote remarks at the 2015 RAIN Conference focused on Entrepreneurship & Industry: Bridging the Gaps & Creating Opportunity. His remarks were followed by a panel on Connecting Entrepreneurs with Industry, featuring entrepreneurial community staples like Elissa Bloom of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, Danielle Cohn of Comcast and Tom Olenzak of IBX.
Following the panel, we heard from Charlie Horn, who created the Horn Program In Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware. Lastly, we listened to flash presentations from early-stage companies who had successfully developed partnerships and strategic alliances with corporations and industries.
In 2016 we welcomed our future partner, Tim Rowe of CIC who keynoted the Conference Size Matters: How Large Enterprises Are Leveraging the Startup Community.
We were also honored to be joined by Mayor Jim Kenney for a discussion on how the City of Philadelphia supports the innovation ecosystem.
A panel exploring Paths & Pitfalls in Developing Relationships Across the Business Spectrum included the likes of Rick Nucci of Guru and Douglas Baldasare of ChargeItSpot. We closed out the day with reverse pitches from Philly-based corporations like Saint Gobain, Microsoft, Jefferson and JPMorgan Chase, who were seeking innovative ideas from startup community.
The 2017 RAIN program was all about how innovation communities are engaging a diverse and inclusive population with entrepreneurship.
Kicking off with a keynote from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Director of Entrepreneurial Communities, Philip Gaskin, the conference looked at existing successful programs that promote diversity, investors focused on making an impact, and resources that expand opportunity beyond the status quo.
A panel titled Leveling the Playing Field featured representatives from the Roxbury Innovation Center, Zipcode Wilmington, Hopeworks ‘N Camden and The Enterprise Center. Flash presentations followed, featuring Bunker Labs, EvoXLabs, GoodCompany Ventures, Impact PHL and the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub.
The 2018 RAIN Conference was focused on Fueling the Talent Pipeline: Preparing for the 21st Century Economy. There was no better person to keynote the topic than Amy Nelson, CEO of Venture for America.
Following Amy’s remarks we explored case studies in filling the talent pipeline with panelists representing the Science Center’s own FirstHand program, Small but Mighty Arts, Coded by Kids, Waterfront Ventures and Campus Philly.