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Science Center CEO Stephen Tang: Startups are necessary but not enough

Stephen Tang, the CEO of the University City Science Center, says the center gives Philadelphia a unique strength: neutral ground for startups and larger companies and institutions to exchange ideas and collaborate.

This kind of meeting place can do everything from provide greater interaction between groups within the life sciences community to provide a forum where the serious problems of health care quality and access can be solved.

Tang discussed health care reform, the Science Center’s history and its future.

On Philadelphia

“Creating startup companies is necessary, but it’s not sufficient for economic development. We have to have small, medium and large sized companies to scale innovation. That’s where this region has a distinct advantage. We’re small enough to be nimble and big enough to matter. As long as we have interplay between medical center, universities and the life science industry, we have a recipe for an ecosystem few regions enjoy.”

On the medical device tax

“If you tax innovation, you’re not going to encourage innovation. We can’t legislate our way through healthcare reform,” Tang said. “Clearly we can’t have policies that are regressive to innovation. A common misunderstanding is that the source of healthcare costs is from pharmaceutical companies and medical devices.”

On healthcare reform

“We’re a technology hungry nation and demand the best healthcare we can afford. The dilemma is everyone wants affordable healthcare until they’re sick, then they want the best.

“In order to improve affordability, access and quality, you need to bring stakeholders together. As a country if we’re addressing those issues, I would argue it is about creating pilots for healthcare reform…And with the resources we have in this region, shame on us if we can’t pull that together.”

On the Science Center

As the country’s oldest urban industrial park, the Center has many accomplishments:

  • An incubator program that currently hosts 29 companies, including pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology firms
  • A focus on economic development in medical education, including the Monell Center, the only institute in the world dedicated to the multidiscplinary study of taste and smell, and Exponent, a scientific research and analysis group with a remit that includes medical devices and pharmaceuticals
  • The growing QED Proof of Concept program that supports life science projects including funding 12 projects and licensing five
  • The Global Soft Landing program that help international companies gain firmer footing in the region’s life science market
  • The Quorum unit that hosts a variety of seminars including ones focused on startups and investors as well as serving as the inspiration for the Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s Innovation Cafe earlier this year

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Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing