Innovation America Innovation America Accelerating the growth of the GLOBAL entrepreneurial innovation economy
Founded by Rich Bendis

Best Practice Example: Innovation Philadelphia 

Leaders in Greater Philadelphia saw the need for an innovation intermediary when they created Innovation Philadelphia in 2001. Philadelphia had several organizations involved in technology-based ED, including the Science Center, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeast Pennsylvania and BioAdvance. The primary advocates of the intermediary concept were Dr Judith Rodin, President of the University of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia’s Mayor, John Street, who understood that efforts needed to be aligned around common goals for the effective implementation of the regional strategy.

As the founder and CEO of Innovation Philadelphia, Richard Bendis focused efforts on connectivity and programmes or tools that would to catalyse innovation. As a result of having four technology-based intermediaries, each with pre-seed investment capital and entrepreneurial support services, the Greater Philadelphia Region was promoted as the ‘World’s Best Technology Network’ in supporting entrepreneurial innovation and commercialization. We have not identified any other region in the country or the world that has four technology-based ED intermediaries which all have high-risk, pre-seed capital to invest in companies.

An early task of Innovation Philadelphia was to retain Richard Seline to develop a roadmap for Greater Philadelphia’s innovation economy, which resulted in new perspectives on Philadelphia’s future economic opportunities and on how talent could be connected for economic growth (NES, 2003). The Knowledge Industry Partnership and Greater Philadelphia Creative Economy were also formed through Innovation Philadelphia’s leadership, and the Seline cluster report helped to create cluster strategies in the medical/life sciences, chemicals, nanotechnology and the business process/software industries. The Knowledge Industry Partnership is a coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s civic, business, government and higher education leaders, who work together to maximize the impact of the region’s colleges and universities on Philadelphia’s overall competitive position. The Greater Philadelphia Creative Economy articulates the convergence of technology industries and professionals with the arts and media industries, and promotes Philadelphia as a hub for this activity.

Bendis and Innovation Philadelphia created further programmes to fill the gaps in the regional innovation economy. The Economic Stimulus Fund was created to make equity investments in companies. The Mid-Atlantic Angel Fund brought together 89 investors in the Greater Philadelphia Region. These programmes are explained further in the next section. Although Innovation Philadelphia today has shifted its focus to address other regional concerns, all the programmes that were created to sustain the innovation-based economy continue to operate in the Greater Philadelphia region: their management has simply been assumed by other entities. This is the true legacy of an innovation intermediary. Institutions and programmes are assembled to address market demands, and when the institution has achieved its mission other regional entities will act to sustain the programmes.