We were surprised to see three staffers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on a list of local South by Southwest attendees.
We saw many of the usual suspects on SXsocial, the social network for attendees of the annual Austin conference: agencies like Bluecadet and O3 World, accelerator DreamIt Ventures and Comcast, which is sending at least 10 staffers, including director of entrepreneurial engagement Danielle Cohn.
But CHOP stood out to us — VP of entrepreneurship and innovation Patrick FitzGerald, formerly of DreamIt, is one exec who’s going, as well as Kamilah Weems and Paul Dehel from his team. (Dehel followed FitzGerald from DreamIt.)
They’re all part of a concerted effort to showcase Philadelphia at SXSW this month. (We’ll be there too!) CHOP’s sponsoring the SXSW Philly effort, alongside the likes of Comcast and Penn’s Pennovation project.
By the way, there’s an SXSW send-off party this Thursday at 6 p.m. at Coda Nightclub at 1712 Walnut St.
So why is CHOP doubling down on SXSW this year?
Two reasons, according to FitzGerald.
For one, CHOP partnered with other children’s hospitals around the country to sponsor a startup competition focused on pediatric health. It’s CHOP’s second year participating in the competition.
But more broadly, under FitzGerald’s leadership, CHOP has been partnering with local tech companies — like CloudMine, design firm Likuma Labs and Think Brownstone — to commercialize its technologies. CHOP wants to further those partnerships by joining the SXSW Philly project, FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald’s role reminds us of Cohn’s role at Comcast and Archna Sahay’s role at the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department: someone at a large, traditional institution who’s responsible for engaging smaller tech companies, a liaison of sorts. We bet that those roles are going to get increasingly popular at traditional companies like Jefferson, Penn and fellow SXSW Philly sponsor Independence Blue Cross, especially as the health IT sector continues to evolve. They’ll likely recruit from inside the tech scene, the way that CHOP, Comcast and the Commerce Department did.
It’s also good that Philly’s burgeoning health IT scene is represented within the SXSW Philly project. BioBots CEO Danny Cabrera will be there (the bioprinting startup won “Most Innovative” at SXSW last year, landing $1,000 in prize money), as will digital media staffers from GlaxoSmithKline and professors from Jefferson like design thinking professor Bon Ku, according to the SXsocial list, which isn’t exhaustive.