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Pennovation opens today. Here’s what you can find inside Penn’s research hub

The long-awaited launch of Penn's research hub in Grays Ferry is happening. Here's a look at what you'll find (and what's coming next).

The Pennovation Center. (Photo by Michael Moran/OTTO)

Seems like just yesterday the Pennovation Center was just a thought, a press release and an aerial rendering.
And yet the 58,000-square-foot Grays Ferry-based research hub of the University of Pennsylvania, on which we’ve consistently been reporting on since 2014, is officially opening this Friday.

The 23-acre lot where the research center sits formerly housed DuPont’s Marshall Research Labs. The Schuylkill River and the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail Park wrap around the place where Penn is hoping to break science barriers and raise the national profile of its research initiatives by setting up worthy partnerships.

And to a certain extent, the center has already made strides in that direction:

  • Merck donated, earlier this month, 110 pieces of assorted lab equipment. Though the company declined to comment on the equipment’s valuation, was able to confirm most of the equipment was used, but in good condition.
  • Comcast, Philly’s flagship tech company, also announced earlier this week that it was jumping on the Pennovation bandwagon with an undisclosed monetary sponsorship. The telecommunications giant will also be “participating in many of the events and programs organized by Pennovation and offering up thought leaders and mentors to its resident entrepreneurs,” said PR director Jennifer Bilotta.

As the site got itself ready, we got a sneak preview of the center’s sights and sounds. It was simply a flurry of Philly tech happenings, like this leapin’, poppin’ robot from Ghost Robotics:

Or the massive coworking space powered by Benjamin’s Desk:

And a very cool research space for robotics and more dubbed the Perch:

Opportunities for the tech scene? There are plenty. Like access to mentorship from the on-site incubator PCI Ventures or funding from Brett Topche’s new(ish) venture firm. Challenges? The need for reliable public transportation to the location.

On balance, though, Grays Ferry is now firmly on Philly’s innovation map.

Join the Center’s opening ceremony today. The keynote is at 1:30 p.m.

Companies: Ghost Robotics / Pennovation Center / Qualcomm / Merck / University of Pennsylvania

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