Startup ecosystem has a new Silicon Valley: Philadelphia

Startup ecosystem has a new Silicon Valley: Philadelphia

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read July 2020The term “startup” may bring to mind a group of motivated mid-20-year-olds huddled together in a high-tech office somewhere in Silicon Valley. However, the southern part of San Francisco Bay is no longer the only hotspot for young, ambitious people. The Philadelphia Business Journal recently reported that Philadelphia has one of the top emerging startup ecosystems in the United States, according to a new study from the Startup Genome. Although startups are often small enterprises, the role they play in economic growth is extensive. With new entrepreneurs come new ideas, new innovations and new competition for bigger corporations. 


While all startups have the ability to transform into a big business, there are many differences between the two. Along with having different visions for growth and sustainability, startups also tend to have a unique relationship with funding. Unlike a traditional business, startups often rely on capital from outside investors or venture capital firms. Running out of money is the second-most common reason for a startup’s failure. An estimated 29% of startups fold because they ran out of cash, according to CB Insights. With that being said, more and more entrepreneurs are opening up shop in Philadelphia because it has a diverse population, an urban atmosphere and most importantly affordable rents. 

“People who do tech startups in Philly still feel that giddy sense of wonder and magic that comes from starting something totally new. We don’t take it for granted. We still feel lucky and grateful to be doing what we’re doing. We’re scrappy. Philly tech is the way I imagine Silicon Valley must have been before the personal computer boom, the first internet boom, and the second internet boom made startup success feel like a foregone conclusion. In the Valley, most employees don’t remember those days. In America, we’re used to thinking of the East as the past and the West as the future. But when it comes to tech, the tables are turned. The Valley is experienced and satisfied. Philly is young and hungry,” Michael Idinopulos, a social business pioneer, wrote in a blog originally for PeopleLinx, now FRONTLINE Selling, and reposted on Robin Hood Ventures

Startups and small businesses are also a crucial part of Philadelphia’s economy. Startups have been proven to boost employment patterns, which leads to more job opportunities. In 2019, small businesses created 57,377 net jobs. Firms employing fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest gains, adding 34,585 jobs, according to Pennsylvania Small Business Economic Profile. Other than economic growth, startups also tend to revolutionize technology. Exyn Technologies, founded in 2014 by Nader Elm, is just one of the many startups using research to create technology designed to keep more people out of harm’s way. Exyn Technologies pioneers autonomous aerial robot systems to improve operational efficiencies and safety for data gathering in underground mining. 

“I think it is interesting as we are watching the use of drones following the emergence of COVID-19. A lot of companies have started testing and demonstrating the capability of using drones to disinfect public areas. I think that is super relevant and very important not only for this pandemic, but it also shows how the industry at large is adopting autonomous tech in all kinds of environments. Also, it is fascinating to think about autonomous inspections and data collection for heavy industry,” Joe Snodgrass, field engineer at Exyn Technologies, told My Dear Drone. 


Spotlight On: Andrew Duffell, President, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

Spotlight On: Andrew Duffell, President, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Research Park at Florida Atlantic University is a public-private partnership that serves as a hub for translating new technologies into the marketplace. Over 32 companies are based there, working on discoveries and technology innovation for the medical and healthcare sectors among others, said President Andrew Duffell. Many of the companies at Research Park are growing past the startup stage, while at the same time the park places a keen focus on attracting established international, tech-based companies to the Palm Beach region, Duffell told Invest:. 





What were some major developments for Research Park at Florida Atlantic University in 2019?

In 2019, we had over 800 people working at the Research Park among the 32 companies that are based here. The really important metric that we saw emerge last year was the number of discoveries that were patented and the quality of collaborations that are happening between the various companies and FAU, which continues to improve year over year. A number of our companies are progressing through their life cycles from startups to second stage, benefiting from our economic gardening initiatives. We have seen an uptick in the budgets for research and development over the years that we expect to start yielding results this year and next.


What sectors are set to benefit from the discoveries made at Research Park?

The majority of the discoveries that were made are in the medical and healthcare space. We have companies working on mental health, medical devices, therapeutics and healthcare IT. We are excited to see a real concentration in the healthcare space, with an emphasis on the interface between healthcare technologies and how healthcare is delivered to patients, which synchronizes well with how we see Florida Atlantic University growing, particularly in the southern Palm Beach County and northern Broward County region. The healthcare industry as a whole is really ripe for innovation, and this is where we are starting to see commercial activity developing, which is very gratifying. While we are affiliated with the university, we are a separate organization: our focus is on economic development and the translation of new technologies into the marketplace. 


In what ways is the Palm Beach region advancing workforce development efforts?

In terms of workforce development, I think Florida is ahead of the pack. We have had a strong workforce development system for a number of years. Research Park at FAU companies and their employees can take advantage of continuing education courses at FAU that are flexible in terms of schedule and pricing: some are for credit, some are for certificates. These have been really valuable. Palm Beach State College also has some fantastic courses in degree and non-degree fields. I think we have held our own in that regard and the employers have seen the value in upgrading the skill set of their employees as a way to retain them. Many employers are investing more in their employees, using flexible work schedules, more work from home and more team-building activities.


What is the focus for Research Park heading into the future?

We’ve made a determination to follow FAU’s significant expertise in its strategic pillars. We want to work with technology companies that will complement those areas, which are the life sciences, sensors and embedded networks and A.I. We are looking for companies that are working in those spaces that will be able to add to work already being developed at FAU, or contribute new ideas to their research. We are seeing a lot of this activity and we think there is potential overseas as well, and would like to bring those companies to Palm Beach County and to scale up their business here. We are looking for companies that are in the second stage, beyond the startup phase, in their home countries and have their concepts developed, are seeing revenues and have investors. We want to find those really promising companies and bring them to Palm Beach County. That is what we are embarking on this year and we are seeing a lot of activity in the sensor and A.I. space in places like Brazil, Canada and Israel.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:



Miami A Bridge for US-Latam Tech Investment

Miami A Bridge for US-Latam Tech Investment

Writer: Sara Warden

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 — It seems that more and more US cities are being labeled tech hubs every day, but Miami-based companies see a unique opportunity in the state that cannot be provided elsewhere. Instead of locking themselves into one market, Miami can provide startups a launch pad into the vast untapped Latin American market, and tech startups are flocking to the city in droves to take advantage of these opportunities.

Possibly the most famous is SoftBank Group, a Japanese investment firm that has set up roots in Miami to gain access to Latin America’s infant venture capital market. SoftBank has pledged $5 billion to the Latin American market, with some of that amount already invested to date. In fact, by the first half of 2019, these kinds of investments in Latin America have almost reached the $2.4 billion invested in all of 2018 – and it could not be done without Miami.

“This is the kind of capital that has never been seen before in Latin America,” Andre Maciel, a managing partner at SoftBank Group told Bloomberg.

About 70% of Miami’s population is composed of Latinos, providing the city with a unique workforce that can capture the attention of untapped Latin American entrepreneurs from a US base. “Part of our secret sauce is that we’re a city built by immigrants. Miami is a very young city, but we have the grit and resiliency of those people. Miami is a startup in and of itself. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, you can make it here,” Felice Gorordo, the CEO of eMerge Americas told Forbes.

But Miami is not just a base for investment in other regions. It also has the credentials that make it one of the best places to invest in the US. It comes seventh nationally for venture capital investments and in the first half of 2019 alone, around $1.54 billion was invested in South Florida tech companies.

SoftBank also made a multimillion-dollar investment at the end of 2018 in ParkJockey, making the company Miami’s first unicorn and one of the most valuable parking companies in the world. Building on the sharing economy model, ParkJockey allows landlords to rent parking spaces to large-scale companies like Uber and Lyft. The reception to this technology says “a lot about the ability to build a business in Miami and take it to significant size,” founder Ari Ojalvo told the Miami Herald.

“Miami has a tremendous tech talent pool, and we’re fortunate to be located in this burgeoning tech market,” said Taunia Kipp, says Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing & Communications at Kaseya, an IT management software company, on Refresh Miami.

Kaseya is one of the most recent success stories for a Miami-based tech firm. Last month, the company attracted a $500 million investment from San Francisco-based investment firm TPG. Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola said in a press conference that the Miami growth will not stop as the company heads for an IPO within the year. “We want to open up people’s eyes to the talent that is here—and that it can be scaled,” Voccola said.

Another IPO that’s on the cards could be Buenos Aires-headquartered firm Technisys. In May, it closed a $50 million funding round. And when it wanted to establish a footprint in the United States, Miguel Santos, one of the three founders told Forbes that there was no question that Miami should be the location. “We are here to stay and the plans are big. The next stage is probably a public offering in say, three to four years,” he said.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Spotlight On: Bret Perkins, Vice President, External & Government Affairs, Comcast Corporation

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 — The Comcast Technology Center just received one of the development industry’s biggest awards: the 2019 Urban Land Institute’s annual Global Awards for Excellence. The Philadelphia building won the recognition along with 11 other projects from around the world. The $1.5 billion development was designed for namesake tenant Comcast, which has 4,000 employees in the tower. The American telecoms company has had an enormous impact on Philadelphia’s economy and the Invest: Philadelphia team sat down with Comcast Corporation Vice President of External & Government Affairs Bret Perkins to explore the company’s impact and future plans for the Philadelphia region.

What impact will the Comcast Technology Center have on Philadelphia’s economy over the long term?

Comcast has had an unwavering commitment to the city of Philadelphia for over 55 years, and the addition of the Comcast Technology Center to our campus is the latest example. We have approximately 4,000 engineers, software developers, and technologists developing next-gen products in the Comcast Technology Center, and we are recruiting and trying to retain world-class technology talent here in Philadelphia. The fact that we have invested and built this campus in Philadelphia is a statement unto itself and gives a sense of what we think about this city, which is our home. This is a space where we can recruit, retain and grow a talent base to build world-class products. 

The Comcast Technology Center is also the new home of NBC10 and Telemundo62, providing them a state-of-the-art studio to deliver the best news to the Philadelphia community.  The top floors are occupied by Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, which will offer five-star accommodations with magnificent views, fantastic restaurants, and will deliver an unparalleled experience…all contributing to and supporting the success of Philadelphia.


How does Comcast support the local startup community?

LIFT Labs and our team that does entrepreneurial engagement is our front door to the startup community around the country. LIFT Labs in Philadelphia is particularly unique because we have a space that is really intended to be a convening spot for the startup and entrepreneurial community. It’s about us working with the startup community and entrepreneurs to help them build their businesses, but also for us to learn from them. We also have the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars, which is designed to support connectivity, media and entertainment startups. Our inaugural Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator took place in summer 2018, and eight out of the 10 companies that participated ended up with some sort of proof of concept partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal. The participants get to meet with mentors and coaches who are world-class in everything they do. This a way for us to help build this ecosystem and partner with startups. 


What impact will the 3,500-seat esports arena have on the city? 

Comcast Spectacor and The Cordish Companies recently announced they will build the first purpose-built facility of its kind in the country dedicated to esports. It will also be the home of the Philadelphia Fusion, our Overwatch League esports team. This is a great development for the city. It will bring additional energy and become a hub for esports. There are a number of businesses that have built up around esports, such as N3rd Street Gamers, an amateur and semi-pro esports network. Our dedicated esports arena is part of a huge investment we are making in the Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes the $250 million renovation of the Wells Fargo Center; the creation of Pattison Place, an $80 million, Class-A office tower; and Fusion Arena, which is a $50 million investment. That is a significant amount of investment in Philadelphia and another vote of confidence in our home city.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Comcast Corporation: 

LIFT Labs: 

Comcast Spectacor:  

Fusion Arena: