The Microsoft Reactor, Philly’s newest innovation space, officially launched last week and it’s already proving to be in a league of its own.
That’s according to Tiffanie Stanard, founder and CEO of the web-based grants search engine Stimulus, the Microsoft Reactor’s only “startup in residence.”
The Reactor has been home base for the Stimulus team since the facility’s soft launch during the Democratic National Convention last July. The team has used the space to grow its online search engine that connects community organizations with companies looking to offer grants and sponsorships.
But in addition to providing a work space, Stanard says that Microsoft as a company brings so much more to the region. “Sometimes when you think of a company like Microsoft, you forget that it has so many offerings besides office software like Windows,” she said. Programs and tools like the community solutions initiative Microsoft CityNext, health monitor Microsoft Band and Microsoft’s mixed reality system the Hololens are resources available to the community through the Reactor.
Here are three more reasons why Stanard thinks the Reactor is one of a kind:
1. The Reactor isn’t just about tech.
The reactor isn’t just for technologists and entrepreneurs or people with a tech business. “Your work doesn’t have to focus on technology, but the tech will be there if you need it,” said Stanard. Non-profit organizations are welcome and so are small businesses, anyone looking to collaborate and learn.
2. Microsoft is committed to creating an ongoing dialogue with the community.
The city is in an ever-growing co-working bubble, but according to Stanard, the Reactor stands apart from most other spaces because of its mission to involve the surrounding community and narrow the digital divide. Co-working spaces can be exclusive and closed to members and spaces for innovation at local schools tend to be for students, Standard said. “At the Reactor, it’s not about Microsoft. It’s really about the community and what we are building together.”
3. The Reactor will focus on everyone coming into the space.
That the new space can work to close the digital divide and address Philly’s tech diversity gap is a prospect that’s been raised. At the launch, Mayor Kenney said the space goes hand-in-hand with the city’s efforts to level the playing field in all neighborhoods. The city’s underserved students can access training and resources and be a part of the city’s entrepreneurial growth. To Stanard, the Reactor’s open space is already an open invitation to youth, women, immigrants and people of color to the table.
Philly’s Microsoft Reactor, a dream brought to life by leaders at SeventySix Capital, the University City Science Center and Wexford & Technology Partners, is only the third to open across the country, behind San Francisco’s and New York’s. According to Microsoft, it’s here because Philly has the right amount of talent, desire to innovate and grow and more and more access to capital for entrepreneurs.