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Philadelphia Amplified: A Recap of our Time at SXSW

SXSW is an exercise in endurance, an education on the future, and for those of us from Philadelphia, a pep rally for the people who make our city tick.

For three days last week Philadelphia was represented in full force in Austin, TX as the Amplify Philly House took over a two-story restaurant and bar on 6th and Trinity Streets. It was the fourth consecutive year of Amplify Philly’s presence at SXSW and the second year we had a home base – our own Philadelphia Embassy if you will.

The Amplify Philly house wasn’t designed just as a familiar spot for those who call Philadelphia home, it was intended to showcase all that’s happening in the City of Brotherly Love for those who may not yet know what we're made of.

Two members of the Science Center team had the opportunity to participate in Amplify programming.

Immigration Strategies for Entering the US Market

Spoiler: Philadelphia is an ideal place for a soft landing.

Karina Sotnik, Director of Business Incubation and Accelerator Programs helped kick off the first panel on the first day with a conversation that explored immigration strategies for businesses looking to get a foothold in the US market. Karina was joined by Lauren Swartz, Senior Director, International Business for the City of Philadelphia and Jonathan Grode, U.S. Practice Director at Green and Spiegel LLC.

The three shared insights into the benefits of locating a business in Philadelphia. To name a few, there are over 100 colleges and universities, $10.5 billion is spent annually on R&D, your money goes twice as far as New York and recent news about Spark Therapeutics and Invisible Sentinel acquisitions from Swiss and France-based companies mean increased international presence in Philadelphia and a significant vote of confidence for our city.

Programs like the Science Center’s Global Soft Landing helps international companies get a foothold in the US. The programs provide the tools, while leveraging the Science Center's partnerships with universities, healthcare institutions, government agencies, and industries in the science and technology sectors.

Immigration is a hot topic across the country, but beyond the southern border, we don’t hear a lot about how policy impacts the way businesses act. As Jonathan put it, the combination of an understanding of US immigration policies, resources offered by Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and Science Center programs, help international businesses create a roadmap for expansion.

Catch a glimpse of the panel on YouTube.

A Healthy Diagnosis

On Day 3 of Amplify Philly, Tracy Brala, Vice President of Ecosystem Development joined Laurie Actman, Chief Marketing, Communications & Program Officer at Penn Center for Innovation; Robert Pugliese, Director of Innovation Design at Jefferson; and Kiera Smalls, Executive Director of Philly Startup Leaders for a panel focused on the heart & infrastructure of cities.

The panelists laid the foundation of what makes up a healthy city. Most notably, the infrastructure is critical to a healthy city. This includes its walkability, well-funded rec centers, libraries and parks. Healthy cities prioritize access, inclusion, representation and diversity.

Rob shared information on CoLabPHL via the Jefferson Health Design Lab designed to bring health beyond hospital walls and directly into neighborhoods. Piloted in a converted Airstream trailer, the multi-use platform is used to activate public spaces and bring health programming directly to Kensington.

Laurie Actman highlighted programs offered by Penn designed to educate young mothers on healthy eating and lifestyles. “If you don't see healthy lifestyle choices growing up, it is really difficult to change that as an adult. But there are great programs out there to educate people on how to make that change."

The conversation went beyond physical health and touched on mental health. Tracy highlighted an often-overlooked cause of mental health challenges – care-givers to their aging parents. Companies like ic@3401 member and Digital Health Accelerator grad, repisodic are addressing the needs of patients and their families with a platform to help them make smarter, faster decisions at hospital discharge. Panelists also emphasized the importance of resources for students, employees and citizens to be able to access the help they need without the barriers of cost or stigma.

Also included in the discussion was Venture Café as a platform for existing organizations to amplify their message to a wider community. Through weekly programming and the engagement of community groups, Venture Café is attracting and connecting diverse audiences each week.

As Tracy put it, "Philadelphia is a city of many communities. But there is work to be done to connect those communities and make it easier to bridge the gap."

Watch a video of the full panel here.

For more on access to healthcare and education, check out CIC Philadelphia’s SIte Director, Sally Guzik’s (very inspiring) lightning talk at the Amplify Philly House.

Philadelphia Came, Philadelphia Amplified

Amplify Philly represents the collective impact of what everyone has started, grown and nurtured. It’s bigger than any one organization, company or partner. It represents what happens when people from multiple entities work together to tell a story about something they have in common.

We were there to remind the world that Philadelphia hasn’t lost the same creative spirit and desire to push beyond the status quo as those whose shoulders we stand on. And remind we did. During the Heart and Infrastructure panel alone, there were attendees from DC, Baltimore, St. Louis, New York, Sweden, France and Norway.

In short, Amplify Philly is case study in the hard work, creativity and determination that represent everything that makes Philadelphia special and we were proud to have been part of it.