Business development / Roundups

These 5 Philly corporations have innovation centers to incubate future products and processes

Here’s a look at how some local companies are applying new solutions to old challenges via place-based hubs.

Based within Pennovation, JPOD Philadelphia looks to offer mentorship to local entrepreneurs. (Rendering courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)

This editorial article is a part of's Corporate Innovation Month of our editorial calendar.

Call it a new trend or the next iteration of R&D, but corporations are taking “innovation” seriously, putting their dollars toward hosting, marketing and building in its name.

Now, as we find ourselves in the last third of Corporate Innovation Month, we’re continuing to check in with Philadelphia’s biggest companies about how they’re impacting local communities and leading the way for upcoming entrepreneurs.

Some are doing it via place-based hubs: Here are the local corporations and large organizations that are standing up innovation centers to work on future products and processes.

Comcast NBCUniversal

On the 14th floor of the year-old Comcast Technology Center at 1800 Arch St., the media giant houses the 13-week LIFT Labs Accelerator for about a dozen companies in partnership with Techstars’ global network of entrepreneurs and advisors. The accelerator supports media, entertainment and connectivity startups from around the world by providing a workspace, tools for product development and mentorship.

The LIFT Labs space also plays host to public, entrepreneurship-focused programming throughout the year. Psst: It’s a nominee for Corporate Innovation of the Year in the 2019 Awards.

Independence Blue Cross

The weeks-old, two-story Center for Innovation within 1901 Market St. is outfitted with open lounge areas, meeting rooms, standing desks, a cafe, a pitch room and a game room.

The first floor of the coworking-like space, on the 13th floor of the building, is for community and business partners, IBX customers and employees, and health care professionals to host events and meetings. IBX’s innovation team will also host design-thinking workshops and human-centered innovation training. The 14th floor is meant for internal use.

Cornhole at IBX’s Center for Innovation. (Photo by Hector Dávila)


Located at 2300 Chestnut St., the Vanguard Innovation Studio is the Malvern-based financial services corporation’s strategy for incubating new ideas, including Pygg, an interactive digital product that teaches 8- to 10-year-olds basic financial concepts. The studio opened two years ago with an open office layout across two floors decorated with startup-y decor.

The studio just promoted 22-year company veteran Amy Cribbs to lead it following Lisha Davis’ departure in July; more details on what’s changing to come. Psst: It’s also a nominee for Corporate Innovation of the Year in the 2019 Awards.

Johnson & Johnson

JPOD @ Philadelphia, located at Pennovation in Southwest Philly, is the New Brunswick, New Jersey-headquarted corporation’s way to keep an eye on innovations coming out of the University of Pennsylvania. The year-old resource center for entrepreneurship combines regular networking events with mentorship for budding life-sciences entrepreneurs.

The first JPOD was launched in Alberta, Canada, as a way to connect the Western Canada province to the company’s 40,000-square-foot life sciences incubator, JLABS, in Toronto. This one is bitty by comparison — a 400-square-foot conference room of sorts, using a secure telecommunications conferencing system to connect regional innovators to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation network.


The Wawa Innovation Center in Media encourages experimentation of the regional chain’s menu and company processes and hosts the Future Food Scientist Program for local middle schoolers to tour and test out food development.

No word on whether it’s where Wally Goose calls home. Psst: It, too, is a nominee for Corporate Innovation of the Year in the 2019 Awards.

Bonus: Inglis House

The social services nonprofit serving people with disabilities — which, though no corporation, did have more than 600 employees and a $50+ million budget as of 2017 — has tied itself to the local tech community before, including via a NextFab-hosted accessibility hackathon held during Philly Tech Week in 2018. Now, it’s following corporate cues and opening its own innovation center at 2562 Belmont Ave. in December.

The Inglis Innovation Center will house the 142-year-old org’s Community Support Services via adapted technology, a day program, employment programs and more.

“The Innovation Center is pretty much the future of what independence is,” says Charles Horton, Inglis’ senior director of advocacy and inclusion, in the below promo video. We’ll be following its development.


P.S. In our digging, we also found mention of some out-of-town innovation centers run by local bigwigs: Center City-headquartered Aramark opened the Healthcare Technology & Innovation Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2014, and Camden-based food giant Campbell Soup Company opened an innovation center located at Pepperidge Farm HQ in Norwalk, Connecticut, in 2012.

Did we miss any? Let us know:

Companies: Aramark / Campbell Soup / Comcast / Johnson & Johnson / Johnson & Johnson
Series: Corporate Innovation Month 2019

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