Science Center Joins Forces with BCK Group, Mogulette and Thom Webster to Establish Philadelphia-based Tech Accelerator
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- (September 10, 2019) -- On the heels of an impact report highlighting the University City Science Center’s role in facilitating the growth of minority, immigrant and female-founded companies, the 55+ year-old nonprofit is doubling down on its commitment to a more inclusive tech ecosystem. With support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Science Center is introducing Launch Lane, a new Philadelphia-based accelerator focused on identifying the most promising tech-enabled startups and helping them grow.
The leadership team for this new initiative, all whom have a longstanding history of cultivating underestimated entrepreneurs, includes Liz Brown, Nestor Canales and Allen King of BCK Group; Brigitte Daniel, Founder of Mogulette and Executive Vice President of Wilco Electronic Systems; Thom Webster, advisor to Black & Brown Founders and Backstage Capital; and Aron Starosta, director of the Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator.
Launch Lane will leverage the group’s collective expertise to identify high-potential startups, address problems, and identify solutions that grow businesses. Implementing the double-blind selection process developed for the Digital Health Accelerator (DHA) and capitalizing on the depth of connectivity across all partners, Launch Lane will build on and expand the momentum of the DHA and other Science Center commercialization programs.
“We are at a tipping point in the US of building inclusive cities that are supportive of underestimated founders and tech entrepreneurs. With its legacy of supporting early-stage companies matched with its commitment to inclusive growth, the University City Science Center is uniquely positioned to bridge and grow Philadelphia’s tech sectors. Launch Lane will embolden founders who not only build great companies, products and services but expand the global economy,” says Founder of Mogulette and EVP of Wilco, Brigitte Daniel Corbin.
Since its launch in 2015 the DHA has:
- Invested $900,000 in 20 companies transitioning prototypes to market.
- Helped participants leveraged $67M in follow-on funding
- Helped participants generated $27M in revenue
- 17 of the 20 companies are still in operation.
- More than 50% of the cohort has been female or minority-led.
Over the last year, the Science Center has:
- Supported 150 research projects and businesses including
- 48% of founders being minority
- 42% being female founders
- 40% of companies with a foreign-born founder
- Invested $1.82M in promising research and companies
- Helped companies leverage $49M in follow-on funds
The leadership team behind Launch Lane will share more information about the new accelerator and answer questions on September 12, 6 p.m. at Venture Café Philadelphia, 3675 Market Street, 3rd Floor. More information here. For updates, visit LaunchLanePHL.org.
About the leadership team:
Liz Brown is Partner and Chief Experience Officer at BCK Group and serves as Managing Director of Backstage Philadelphia. Over the past 15 years, Liz has worked on a wide range of projects ranging from web and app development to research regarding motivation, cognitive learning, and design theory. Her passion for User Experience was ignited by her work as an Urban Planner who assisted communities in making human-centered design decisions for neighborhood revitalization projects in both Western New York and Philadelphia. Due to her passion for coding and design, Liz took on a second Master’s degree in Information Design and Technology while working as a Neighborhood Planner for the City of Philadelphia. In 2014, she co-founded Webjunto, a community and user experience focused web and mobile development company, and the awards and recognition followed including: Technologist of the Year, Rad Awards 2018; Best Tech Workplace for Diversity, Timmy Awards, 2017; and honored as one of Philly’s 12 Young Leaders in “Who’s Next in STEM”, to name a few.
Nestor Canales is the C in BCK, an immigrant from Lima, Peru, Nestor holds a Bachelors’ of Science degree in Computer and Information Systems and is the Chief Technology Officer at BCK Group. Nestor a true entrepreneur, a founding member of the Philadelphia based software startup Webjunto and founder of Clevermask Inc. a software development consulting firm established in 2007. Nestor has a passion for solving problems through technology and working with founders to create better solutions for their businesses.
Allen King is Co-Founder of BCK Group, Director of Backstage Philadelphia, founder of AI consulting company Allagi.ai, and past CMO and Principal of JetSense.AI. As an investor and serial entrepreneur, he understands the issues surrounding the lack of diversity and inclusion in tech, both personally and professionally. Allen has a passion for innovation and education, building the artificial intelligence-driven chatbot most notably used in the UCLA-led research study “Text Me: The Promise of Strategic Nudging to Increase Student Awareness and Access to Financial Aid”, which measured the effectiveness of text messaging and student matriculation outcomes. Allen is always working on ways to improve user experience outcomes through digital communications, data analysis, and artificial intelligence as he continues to create a roadmap to improve underrepresented founder success rates and bring value to the tech ecosystem as a whole.
Thom is an experienced business leader and entrepreneur in the creation and development of for-profit and non-profit organizations in both the private and public sectors. He has over thirty-five years of experience with assisting organizations as a senior advisor in the planning and development of business strategy; the launching and expansion of new divisions; and the financing and capitalization of programs. Thom currently serves as a Management Advisor to BASE Architecture, Planning, & Engineering, one of the most successful and experienced nationally owned and operated African-American Architectural and Engineering Firms; and to The Alpha Enterprise Group, ranked by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the top 100 largest African American owned businesses in America.
Mogulette and Wilco
As an award-winning ‘telecom visionary’ and vocal advocate for gender and cultural diversity in the tech industry, Brigitte Daniel is the Executive Vice President of Wilco Electronic Systems, her family’s private cable and telecommunications company. For over 40 years, Wilco has specialized in providing affordable cable and telecom services to underserved communities as well as platform integration solutions for security access technologies, within the Greater Philadelphia region.
Driven by her mission to address diversity and inclusion inequities within innovation sectors, Brigitte has emerged as a national thought leader and founder of Mogulette, an organization that assists cities and anchor institutions in building inclusive and impactful innovation ecosystems. As a 2019 Mayoral appointed member of the SMARTCityPHL advisory committee, through her leadership with Wilco and Mogulette, she will provide strategy and vision as the City of Philadelphia implements its roadmap to implement smart and inclusive solutions that improve resident and business services. Currently, Brigitte is also an appointed advisor to the Federal Communication Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment. In 2011, Brigitte was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship and traveled to India and Sri Lanka examining emerging technologies beneficial to urban low income communities in the United States. She has received numerous citations and commendations from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for her longstanding commitment to building a robust and diverse Philadelphia innovation region.
University City Science Center
Aron Starosta designed, built and currently directs the Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator. Aron has been involved in both healthcare-related and venture-capital-related investment endeavors since 1992. Moreover, during the past 25+ years, he has provided services as an independent due diligence expert for VCs, reviewing the technical and commercial investment viability of numerous start-ups. In addition to the DHA, Aron has consulted on several healthcare accelerators in the U.S. and across four continents. Over the last decade, he has been consulted on or run 25+ accelerators worldwide. His clients include large university systems, nonprofit research entities, and multiple $1B+ corporations with a focus on commercialization and diversity.
About the Science Center
Located in the heart of uCity Square, the Science Center is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that catalyzes and connects innovation to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. For 56 years, the Science Center has supported startups, research, and economic development in the life sciences, healthcare, physical sciences, and emerging technology sectors. As a result, Science Center-supported companies account for one out of every 100 jobs in the Greater Philadelphia region and drive $13 billion in economic activity in the region annually. By providing resources and programming for any stage of a business’s lifecycle, the Science Center helps scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators take their concepts from idea to IPO – and beyond. For more information about the Science Center, visit www.sciencecenter.org