Company Culture

3 ways the Pennovation Center helps its women entrepreneurs accomplish their goals

Member companies have access to coworking spaces, affordable offices, global networks and expansive laboratories. Three founders give us a tour.

Pennovation Center Lab.

(Photo by James Ewing)

Nestled inside the 23-acre entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pennovation Works, positioned along the southern bank of the Schuylkill River, lies the Pennovation Center.

This central business incubator houses approximately 40 companies — 60 percent of which have at least one female founder — working to develop solutions to pressing world problems. spoke with some of these founders about the center’s research and startup facilities. From spaces such as “Inventor Garages” and shared laboratories to programming supporting company growth, here’s what they said.

Pennovation Center’s Pitch Bleacher. (Photo by Michael Moran OTTO)

A blueprint for cross-industry collaboration

Biotech, robotics and software entrepreneurs can thrive in the 58,000-square-foot, three-story facility’s industrial design. A pitch bleacher, floor-to-ceiling windows, functional garage doors and an open floor plan are designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Even though the companies here are in different industries, we have found ourselves sharing knowledge and access to resources,” said Rui Jing Jiang, cofounder and CEO of Avisi Technologies. “In the shared lab spaces, everyone is open to meeting new people and starting new dialogues. It sparks creativity.”

Rui Jing Jiang and Brandon Kao of Avisi. (Photo courtesy of University City District)

Mentorship opportunities

Between the close-knit members and the frequent networking events in the gallery, the center aims to support diverse gender representation in the tech field.

Sue Dillon, cofounder and CEO of Aro Biotherapeutics, acknowledged this about mentorship: “The best catalyst for change is by example, so every woman who has worked hard and landed in a position of visibility and seniority should reach out and see what they can do to help younger people.”


Room to grow

Karen Hogan and Orkan Telhan of Biorealize. (Photo courtesy of Oak Leaf Media)

The Pennovation Center understands its members are expanding. For Karen Hogan, cofounder and CEO of Biorealize, this flexibility keeps her company’s operations budget on track while satisfying her workplace needs.

“When we first moved in and were doing a lot of machine prototyping and R&D, we were in an Inventor Garage,” Hogan said. “We moved into doing some contract manufacturing, so now we have lab space. We’ll use the coworking spaces this summer as we continue growing.”

Ready to get involved?

Pennovation Works Meadow with Philadelphia Mini Maker Faire (Courtesy photo)

Book a tour to learn more about available spaces and membership options to join this vibrant network of entrepreneurs or participate in one of the center’s upcoming programs and events that are open to the community. Check out Pennovation’s Year in Review, Year in Pics, and innovators in action to learn more about this dynamic ecosystem where ideas go to work.

Follow Pennovation Works on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Facebook.

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