The Hershey Co. was announced Wednesday as the first corporate sponsor of the Pennovation Center, a 200,000-square-foot innovation hub developed by the University of Pennsylvania, which will soft-open this August.
The candy company will set up its “Advanced Technology and Foresight Lab” at the Grays Ferry campus.
According to Dawn Bonnell, Penn’s Vice Provost of Research, the announcement of Hershey is the first in a series to come over the next few months. The official opening date is Oct. 28.
"We'll soon be announcing similar alliances. There's no stop to this."
“I think this will be a good model of how industries can work with an academic institution,” Bonnell said. “We’ll soon be announcing similar alliances. There’s no stop to this.”
Various tenants from spaces like microbiology and engineering — standard innovation fare — are already signed on. But Bonnell says corporate partners like Hershey will also feel at home. The pitch to bigger partners: “think outside the box and feed off what’s happening at Pennovation,” Bonnell said.
But just what will Hershey be doing in its Pennovation space?
Although there aren’t specific projects yet, there are a few defined areas of action, including digital gifting, dynamic product packaging, micro-manufacturing and the internet of things.
The company is aiming to come up with product prototypes that fall outside of Hershey’s traditional models, said spokeswoman Jennifer Sniderman.
“Hershey is looking to the future with the Pennovation Campus as a place where we can explore disruptive opportunities and determine solutions for our core business,” she said.