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Our Top 7 of 2020

For our final Flying Slippers blog post of 2020, we wanted to do things a bit differently and share with you some of our favorite stories of the year.

This is a time capsule of a moment during our 57-year history that challenged much of our conventional thinking; lab experiments took place on kitchen tables, high school students grasped how the internet was sustaining our remote work better than we did, and startups actively sought out and participated in our (mostly virtual) commercialization programs when the concept was still unfamiliar.

Less surprisingly however, we honored three visionaries in our community for their foresight, welcomed seven incredible innovators to our new Launch Lane Accelerator and saw numerous uCity Square companies drop regular operations to shift their focus to a pandemic response.

Read on for our Top 7, but we encourage you to check out all of our past posts about ordinary people rising to the moment at an extraordinary time.


Blind Applications, Impartiality and De-biasing a Selection Process

Back in January, we employed a “blind” application process for our Launch Lane Accelerator, stripping founders of key identifiers. It was then reviewed by an anonymous selection team that is reflective of the diversity we want to see represented in the companies we support. A look at our data will show why it remains a tried-and-true strategy for fostering inclusivity and fairness among the tech-enabled startups vying for a spot in our cohort.

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The Front Lines of COVID-19

Our central and original mission of bringing life changing technology from bench to bedside is now more essential than ever, and significantly accelerated in times of crisis. To that end, there have been several companies and researchers working tirelessly on developing solutions for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can be traced back to the Science Center. Find out who they are and learn about their contributions to the global effort.

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A Lesson in Connectivity

When a group of students from Paul Robeson High School began learning about wireless communication, they had no idea they were weeks away from a global event that would see us rely on the internet like never before. In collaboration with telecommunications infrastructure giant Crown Castle, this FirstHand industry curriculum explored what really goes into keeping us connected while apart.

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MAY 28

Philadelphia and the Growth Mindset

If you look past our scrappy reputation, you’ll see that we are a city of innovation, research and forward progress. And to transition to a mindset of growth and potential, we need to embrace all that we already possess: a burgeoning startup scene, a wealth of resources to help it flourish and clusters of industry leaders accounting for billions in revenue.

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The Visionaries Behind the Awards

No one really sets out to become a visionary, they just do when possessed with foresight that many of us missed early on. Benjamin Doranz, Aurora Archer and Sylvester Mobley have been working relentlessly for years on deep, societal issues ranging from infectious diseases to systemic racial injustice and inequity. Learn more about their unique journeys and the impressive achievements that solidified their place as our Nucleus 2020 Honorees.

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More Than Ever, Incubation Proves Valuable for Startups

You’d think 2020 would spell the end of coworking spaces, but it just wasn’t so. In fact, our ic@3401 community actually grew; not just in membership but in the amount of money these startups raised. What could be behind this? For starters, community support and intersectional incubation between resident companies remains invaluable, and probably will for the long haul.

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An Application, an Internship and an Opportunity

Our Workforce Development program launched this past summer with the goal of training Philadelphia residents without a traditional college degree for careers in our city’s vibrant life sciences sector. And even after pivoting to remote learning, we witnessed successes. For one participant in particular, her journey of exploring lab basics from home would eventually lead to an internship at uCity Square’s Integral Molecular.

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