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Temple leans into the startup game with new innovation center in North Philly

Dubbed iNest, the space will provide a one stop shop for university researchers and partners to spin out new companies.

Temple University student fellow Ritika Malik works with Cathy Bedenbaugh, the manager of finance and operations at the Innovation Nest on North Broad Street (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

This story is a part of Technical.ly’s Future Research Month. See the full 2024 editorial calendar.

Philadelphia has a new center for research-based startups.

Today marks the grand opening of Temple University’s Innovation Nest. Known as iNest — in homage to the school’s owl mascot, which is represented on a lenticular wall at the entrance — the facility will support innovators in the Temple community, serving as an event and meeting space and incubating startups

The idea is that when Temple researchers are ready to spin out their own company, all the resources they need will be accessible within iNest, said Stephen Nappi, the university’s associate VP for technology commercialization and business development. The space is also a home for student innovations under the Blackstone LaunchPad.

Consolidating office and lab space for research and development in one location not only “makes it easier for researchers to engage, but also easier for our partners to to engage,” Nappi told Technical.ly.

Injection molding company Muse Engine was the first company to secure space at iNest, and has been operating an R&D lab there since last November.

Modern office break room with tables, chairs, and bar-style seating by the windows.

The Innovation Nest is home for the Temple technology commercialization team that identifies and protects new innovations from university researchers (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

The 8,000-square-foot facility, which takes up the fourth floor of 3223 N. Broad St. on Temple’s Health Sciences Campus, is also looking to build partnerships with outside companies, investors and resource organizations, such as global tech transfer consortium Bio Strategy Partners.

“When it comes to innovation commercialization, we need partners.” Nappi said. “We need to partner with entrepreneurs, investors, existing companies, and so on.”

The university is trying to create more opportunities to turn research into real businesses, said Josh Gladden, Temple’s VP for research, and iNest is just one of the initiatives to make that happen. Temple’s Small Business Development Center and Innovation Entrepreneurship Institute also offer resources for startups, and iNest hopes to collaborate with these other centers to consolidate resources, Nappi said.

Modern office lounge and meeting room with glass doors, furniture, and a mounted tv.

A conference room and lounge area at Temple’s Innovation Nest (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

Gladden acknowledged other universities have similar centers, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), which has been around since 2014. Over the past five years, PCI has spun out more than 100 startups. Last year alone, Penn-affiliated startups raised over $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, Temple spinout companies raised roughly $180 million in funding over the last three years, according to Nappi.

The nonprofit Sbarro Health Research Organization, one of Temple’s longstanding research partners, was one of the first to contribute funding to iNest. The state’s PA CURE program and Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program also contributed funding.

iNest facilites, according to the center’s website, include:

  • Wet labs
  • Cell culture rooms
  • Clean room
  • Gene sequencing facility
  • High thoroughput computing space
  • Coworking space
  • Equipped meeting rooms
  • Pitch presentation zone
  • Flex space
  • Large event space for 100+ attendees
  • Cafe
  • Parking

In terms of programming, the plan is to host showcases for emerging technologies and existing startups, as well as training and education programs for entrepreneurs.

“What we want to see is certainly how we can accelerate and build efficiency into the process for how we spin out companies,” Nappi said. “But we also want to make sure the pipeline of new opportunities has a platform that will enable us to spin up the next generation of companies.”

Scroll down for more pics of the new space.

A modern wall design with the word "innovationnest" and abstract bird shapes at an office lobby.

A lenticular wall titled “Discover Takes Flight” welcomes people to the Temple iNest, with a design that mimics a bird in flight (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

 

Modern conference room seen through glass doors with a long table and chairs, equipped with a presentation screen.

Temple University’s iNest features multiple private conference rooms (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

 

A large, multi-story classical building with canadian flags flying, viewed on a clear day.

The Temple University space at 3223 N. Broad St. houses the Innovation Nest (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

 

Modern office space with open seating and glass partitions.

Temple’s iNest has space for wet labs (Erin Blewett for Technical.ly)

 

Modern conference room with a sign labeled "the roost" next to the door.

A conference room name follows the theme in Temple University’s Innovation Nest on North Broad Street (Erin Blewett for 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: Temple University
Series: Future Research Month 2024
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