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The ‘Amazon of science stores’ and 30 other vendors strut their stuff for Philly biotech

Companies showed up at the UC Science Center because of the "booming CGT industry in Philadelphia."

The second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase took place at the UC Science Center on March 20, 2024. (Sarah Huffman/Technical.ly)

How acclaimed is Philly’s biotech sector? A walk through the first floor of Quorum on Wednesday gave a hint of its thriving stature.

The University City Science Center venue was packed to the brim with more than 30 major life sciences companies and organizations at the second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase. They were displaying all the new technologies and services their companies have to offer to support the local industry ecosystem.

One booth featured Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Massachusetts-based business that’s basically the “Amazon of science stores,” according to senior technical sales specialist Kristen Hightower. At the fair, Hightower was displaying quantitative PCR and flow cytometry instruments.

“With the biotech industry just blowing up, especially here in the Philadelphia area, it’s really important for us to be able to introduce ourselves to the new companies, the new people moving in,” Hightower told Technical.ly. “We really want to be at the forefront of this cutting edge technology.”

As one of the founding sponsors of CIC Philadelphia, which cohosted the showcase event with the UC Science Center and uCity Square, Thermo Fisher already provides some instruments for the shared lab space, and comes to the Science Center monthly for workshops, Hightower said.

MSD at the second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase at the UC Science Center. (Sarah Huffman/Technical.ly)

 

A building ‘known’ for life sciences networking

Philadelphia is considered the sixth best life sciences market in the country, according to a 2023 ranking from real estate services firm CBRE. The industry has seen a lot of local growth over the last 10 years, especially in cell and gene therapy.

One of the cell and gene therapy researchers strolling the showcase was Mark Gervasi, whose company Tevogen Bio has been based out of CIC for two years. He wasn’t looking for anything specific, he said, but ended up finding some multichannel pipettes that would be helpful for his work.

Also checking out the offerings was Emanuel Ortiz, senior scientific operations coordinator at Carisma Therapeutics. He’s always on the lookout for tools to track and manage inventory — and found a few companies at the showcase that fit his exact need.

Promega at the second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase at the UC Science Center. (Sarah Huffman/Technical.ly)

Opportunities to meet and work with outside vendors or other companies is one reason he’s a big fan of the Science Center.

“It’s important for people to get to know each other and network and build relationships,” Ortiz said. “This building is known for that.”

A big portion of the energy at 3675 Market St. comes from CIC, an international life sciences organization offering resources and work space. The Philadelphia location launched at the Science Center in 2018. It currently has 115 clients and works with 13 local medical and educational organizations, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

‘Here to focus on the booming CGT industry in Philadelphia’

Another CIC sponsor at the showcase was Promega, a Wisconsin-based biotech company that manufactures enzymes and other products.

“We’re here today to really focus on the booming cell and gene therapy industry in Philadelphia,” Chris Dashiell, account manager at Promega, told Technical.ly. “Promega definitely likes to support the forefront and the frontiers of biotech and pharma.”

Vancouver-based STEMCELL Technologies has been working with CIC since it opened in 2018. The company is focused on sourcing, culturing and differentiating primary cells.

Stemcell Technologies at the second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase at the UC Science Center. (Sarah Huffman/Technical.ly)

The annual vendor showcase allows it to connect with current clients face to face and meet new clients, said account manager Rachel Temple.

“New companies are always coming in and sometimes they’re in stealth mode, and so it can be hard to get information on them,” Temple said. “It’s also really nice to have a personal connection with people and not just communicate with them through email, but actually talk to them in person.”

Also at the showcase was GxP Authority, which provides information technology and regulatory compliance consulting for life sciences companies, including some at CIC.

“A lot of startup companies, most companies, don’t have an IT leader. They don’t have internal IT support,” said firm partner Lawrence Rich “We’re interested in trying to support the biotech and pharmaceutical community here in Philadelphia.”

Integra at the second annual Life Science Vendor Showcase at the UC Science Center. (Sarah Huffman/Technical.ly)

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: University City Science Center

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