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Coworking / Entrepreneurs / Startups

Philadelphia coworking and incubation space shutting down after 10 years

Once the go-to spot for startups in University City, ic@3401 was known as a hub for resources and collaboration.

ic@3401. (Photo via facebook.com/ic3401)
After 10 years fostering entrepreneurship and collaboration, Innovation Center @3401 will close for good this summer. 

The 17,500-sq.-ft. incubator and coworking space opened in 2014 as a partnership between Drexel University and the University City Science Center. The idea was that ic@3401 would not only offer founders office space, but also access to investors and resources. 

It was largely successful, attracting more than 200 hundred companies as members. As the startup world evolved over the past decade, the space adapted with it, according to Sandy Gomberg, strategic advisor to the Science Center — but the pandemic-sparked rise in remote work led to a huge drop in demand.

“The needs of the startup ecosystem were very different in 2014 when we opened ic@3401,” Gomberg told Technical.ly. Recently, there have only been about 10 people in the space at any given time, she said. 

There are now more options for startup space in University City, and both institutions offer more resources for founders — including the Founders Fellowship, Capital Readiness Program, Venture Cafe, Raynier Seed Fund and Drexel Innovation Fund. 

42 companies currently have contracts with ic@3401, and the Science Center is working with CIC Labs and Innovation Campus, just down the road at 3675 Market St., to offer them space at a similar rate. 

Companies will have access to the space until it closes on Aug. 31. Drexel plans to turn both floors into academic and administrative space.  

Lithero, a company developing an AI platform to review drug marketing materials, has been based in the space since 2019. VP of AI Innovation Brandon Morton said he was aware of the space before actually moving there and appreciated its intentional collaboration-focused design.

“The willingness to help one another at ic@3401 was so helpful at the early stages of Lithero,” Morton said. “It’s always tough to lose a community, especially one that contributed so much to me both personally and professionally and I will miss it.” 

When it opened, ic@3401 was one of the few spaces available for startups in University City. Its member companies have included ROAR, Viora Health, and Stel Life

The Science Center regularly offered a year of free space at ic@3401 as part of its now defunct Launch Lane Accelerator. Drexel University also offered membership at the incubator for participants in the Raynier Seed Fund for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs. 

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: Drexel University / University City Science Center
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