Why the Global Startup Accelerator wants startups to get worldly

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the University City Science Center want to help 25 companies tap the European market.

The programming will take place at the Science Center. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

Blandine Chantepie-Kari has seen it happen before: Companies tend to see international expansion as an afterthought.

But her background in international business development and investment attraction has taught her it doesn’t have to be that way, and that tapping global connections can actually save time and accelerate growth when starting a business.

Now, as director of the Global Startup Accelerator, she’s hoping to help Philly companies think global from the outset. The six-month program — a joint undertaking from the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the University City Science Center with backing from the U.S. Department of Commerce — is now on the hunt for for 25 local startups in the life sciences, information tech or eHealth spaces.

“I hope people will start to understand what it means to be a global company,” Chantepie-Kari said. “We don’t want them to simply sell abroad but to understand the value of having partners in other countries.”

The program will connect founders to global biz dev experts and potential funders, specifically by letting them pitch European biotech types at the BIO International Convention, happening in Philly next summer.

The program won’t take equity or invest directly into companies. Its first cohort, which will kick-off in January, will focus on the European market, while a 2020 iteration will take a look at IT opportunities in India. Programming will take place between the Science Center’s new Quorum hub at 3675 Market and the IC@3401 incubator.

Eamon Gallagher, program director at IC@3401, said Philly’s growing population of highly-educated immigrants signals an opportunity for early-stage companies.

“The design of the program lets companies find strategic arbitrage opportunities for startups to plug into international markets leveraging the immigrant community that is here, and doing it in a way that makes sense,” Gallagher said.

Sometimes, it would be easier for companies to deploy their products in other markets to obtain data and then bring it back to the U.S. market, said the Science Center’s Karina Sotnik, Director of Business Incubation and Accelerator Programs.

“International growth always comes as a stepchild,” Sotnik said. “And then it’s very difficult to make your product more global.”

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