Civic News
Municipal government

Tech entrepreneurs want more help from Gov. Wolf

Also: an update on the tech tax, which seems to be kaput (for now).

Gov. Wolf heard from Science Center tech entrepreneurs. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

For a quick, speed-dating-like hour, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf sat down with a dozen entrepreneurs and tech execs at the University City Science Center.

The premise of the chat was simple enough: How can state government better back Philadelphia’s tech growth? The feedback can be summed up in three large buckets: cash, connections and talent retention.

“Continue to offer access to early stage funds from the estate,” was the straight up pitch from Dreamit Ventures’ Karen Griffith Gryga. “We need more strength in earlier-stage funds.”

Telesis founder Maurice Hampton doubled down on the ask. “There’s a dearth of the kinds of funds that could help us,” the executive said.

“I’d be cautious of putting that in the door of government,” Wolf pushed back. “I agree that that’s a requirement to grow but I wouldn’t rely on us too much. You need people who are willing to take that risk.”

Connection to the tech ecosystem, one founder said, was also a way the state could support tech growth. Christina Lopes, a Brazilian immigrant and founder of The One Health Company, gave a summary of her startup and explained how the Science Center ecosystem was key to the company’s access to clients and opportunities.

Of course, the state is already backing the Science Center through a $2.5 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), which will go towards the development of 3675 Market St. Part of the UCity Square complex, the new building will house the Science Center in 2018.

Talent retention, the third pillar of the ecosystem, starts with cities like Philadelphia being a welcoming environment for tech talent. Harry Du, cofounder of and a Penn alum, said creating a range of job opportunities for grads is key.

That starts with an anchor institution, said Spark Therapeutics CEO Jeffrey Marrazzo, whose company is on tap to become the first company to receive FDA approval for its gene therapy.

“It’s important to see what companies can become an anchor that other companies follow,” Marrazo said.

Before jetting out to respond to an emergency situation in Western Pennsylvania, Wolf gave a quick update on the tech tax situation that local foundersPACT and Philly politicians had rallied against is, at least for now, kaput.

“As you can see that was not included in the revenue package that came out from the Senate,” said Wolf. “I think that’s not an issue anymore.”

We have an email out to PACT for an update on the org’s campaign to strike the proposal down.

Companies: University City Science Center

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


A local meetup group is using Amazon’s cybersecurity conference in Philly to raise money for tech nonprofits

Philly is ranked one of the world’s best places to found a startup, climbing to No. 25 globally

Coded by Kids drops ‘kids’ but keeps the focus on young people

This Week in Jobs: The kernel of a new career is in these 20 tech opportunities

Technically Media