Optofluidics, a biotech company that moved to Philly in early 2011, explained its relocation with the usual reasons, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported: low cost of living, accessibility to other East Coast cities.
But there was another major draw: the University City Science Center.
“The Science Center played a big part,” said [Bernardo] Cordovez, cofounder and chief executive of Optofluidics.
The center had labs and other physical facilities the fledgling company needed, but there was another element that was just as important, he said: “It was the community.”
Shortly after Optofluidics arrived there in February 2011, staff at the Science Center offered to help the company write proposals for funding. It worked: BioAdvance, a life-sciences investment fund backed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, put $50,000 into the company.
Cordovez started in Ithaca as a spin out of his work at Cornell University.
Optofluidics is just one of the 50 companies in the Science Center’s Port Business Incubator. The Science Center has a track record for bringing companies from other cities to Philly, like Russian wind power company Optiflame, which relocated to Philly this summer.
Where the growth will happen is something to be looking toward with the incubator program: if companies like Optofluidics and Optiflame extend beyond their initial offices and take larger space at the Science Center and beyond, creating a larger footprint in the region or if they mostly remain a tenant for a large University City landlord.