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At the Intersection of Philadelphia Startup Ecosystem and Academic Innovation

Accelerate your entrepreneurial endeavors at ic@3401

November 8, 2018

You are a Drexel University academic innovator. You have a technology that can change the world. The idea is based on years of research and expertise. And you are about to embark on a journey to do a startup to put the idea in motion. ic@3401 aims to help you every step of the way.

ic@3401, located on the second floor of 3401 Market St., is a community of Philadelphia startups, investors and academic innovators formed through a partnership between Drexel University and the University City Science Center. The 17,000-square-foot space houses 35–40 startups in the fields of digital health, fintech, edtech, agtech and "deep tech," such as advanced materials and medical devices. "In addition to being the premier startup incubator in the Greater Philadelphia region, we wanted ic@3401 to be a place where academic innovators from any institution can kick-start their entrepreneurial pursuits," said Shintaro Kaido, Managing Director of Venture Commercialization at Drexel Ventures.

Unlike typical university-affiliated incubators which restrict access to members only from its campus community, ic@3401 is open to the public so that all members can take advantage of accumulated experience in the Philadelphia metro and maximize peer learning. Startup founders face hundreds of challenges that they must solve quickly and concurrently," said Eamon Gallagher, program director at ic@3401. "Chances are good that you'll find someone in this community who has gone through the same problem."

Case in point, Sage Smart Garden, a University of Delaware spinout developing an IoT (Internet of Things) solution for landscapers and home gardeners, joined ic@3401 in June 2018 and immediately experienced the benefits of peer learning after connecting with GrowFlux, an agtech startup founded by two Drexel alumni. "We were able to significantly cut down our product-development time," said Trevor Stephens, co-founder of Sage Smart Garden, after switching some of his company's product development over to an IoT platform used by GrowFlux. ACE, a Drexel edtech startup, also gained a competitive edge as it prepared for the NSF I-Corps Team program, a premier program to help academic innovators with their ventures through a $50,000 award. "We are better prepared for what to expect in the program —connecting with a past I-Corps participants at ic@3401 provided us with valuable information and insights to the program," said Assistant Professor Lori Severino of Drexel University's School of Education.

Since its launch in 2014, ic@3401 has posted impressive statistics, with member startups raising $18 million in 2016 and $15 million in 2017. "Our startups are raising locally, regionally and nationally," said Gallagher. While Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA has invested in 13 of ic@3401 startups, outside capital is also present at ic@3401. Mission Bay Capital (Bay Area), BioInnovation Capital (Boston), Arizona Tech Investors and Delaware Crossing have invested in ic@3401 startups. In June 2018, Heavy Water, which combines mortgage processing services with artificial intelligence, was acquired by Black Knight Inc., a Russel 1000 component company based in Jacksonville, Florida.

ic@3401 hosts a happy hour on the third Thursday of every month starting at 5 p.m. Drexel academic innovators are welcome to come and see how ic@3401 can help them identify their appropriate market segment and develop a value proposition for their ideas or startups. And even if you don't yet have an idea, watching others exchanging ideas can be very valuable, said Gallagher: "You don't have to have a startup to be part of the ic@3401 community."

For more information, please contact ic3401@sciencecenter.org.