Startups / Technology / Universities

Penn Med leads school’s tech transfer startup growth

The UPstart program, which works with faculty members to build companies around technology developed at the University of Pennsylvania, currently has 56 active companies, which have raised more than $10 million. 75 percent of participating faculty come from Penn's Perelman School of Medicine.

(Photo courtesy of Perelman School of Medicine)
Full disclosure: Penn's UPstart program was a sponsor of Philly Tech Week 2013.
Correction: The previous headline of this article incorrectly characterized the data. (11/4/13, 12:57 p.m.)

Over the last three years, the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school has produced the most spinout companies of any Penn school, according to data from Penn’s UPstart program, which works with faculty members to build companies around technology developed at Penn. It’s one type of a process called tech transfer.

Seventy-five percent of the 82 Penn faculty members that are part of UPstart companies work in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. That shows a kind of healthcare strength that is at the foundation of the old ‘eds and meds’ saw about the region’s business community.

The UPstart program currently has 56 active companies, which have collectively raised more than $10 million, according to a recent UPstart newsletter. These companies include the following:

Check out our infographic with the data below or here.

penn startups upstart

Click on the image for the full, interactive infographic.

penn upstart infographic

Click on the image for the full, interactive infographic.

Penn’s School of Nursing has the second highest number of faculty members (five) in UPstart companies. There are also three entrepreneurs who are part of UPstart companies that do not work at Penn.

The data doesn’t account for Penn spinout companies that are not part of UPstart, which was founded in 2010 by John Swartley, now the head of Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer. More than 100 companies have spun out of Penn in the last 20 years, Swartley told the Penn Current. The Center for Technology Transfer did not have data on these non-UPstart companies, but UPstart director Mike Poisel said there haven’t been that many over the years.

“Before UPstart, Penn simply wasn’t a great engine for large numbers of startups,” Poisel said in an email, referring to the fact that traditionally, technology transfer involved licensing technologies to corporate partners, rather that creating faculty spinout companies.

UPStart has also created 40 jobs and saved 30 at Penn, Poisel said at the recent IMPACT Venture Summit.

Below, find a more detailed breakdown of which departments the faculty members come from.

School of Arts and Sciences (two faculty members): Physics and Astronomy (2)

School of Engineering (four faculty members): Nanotechnology, Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering (2)

School of Design (one faculty member): Architecture

Companies: Graphene Frontiers / RightCare Solutions / University of Pennsylvania

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