In the center of Philadelphia, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, sits an institution that enhances Greater Philadelphia’s growing reputation for scientific and technological innovation. At the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), Penn’s inventors are connected with the resources they need to translate discoveries into products and businesses that can have a societal impact. Penn faculty members and researchers, companies seeking strategic alliances, entrepreneurs, and many other types of Penn innovators – PCI serves them all, as it works to bring promising technologies and start-up ideas to light. In its recent PCI Year in Review FY2022, PCI highlights another record-breaking year for commercialization activity at Penn across multiple different technology sectors. By encouraging, protecting, and seeking development partners for early stage technologies, PCI and the region are playing a critically important role in the overall continuum of technology development.

PCI Year in Review report

In FY2022, the report announced, Penn realized more than $1B in revenue from the commercialization of intellectual property – the largest amount in Penn history – and featured 739 executed commercial agreements. A total of $560 million in funds were raised or received by PCI-affiliated spinouts and start-ups. In addition, 929 patents were filed by Penn in support of faculty inventions in one year and 110 U.S. patents were issued, along with 363 new invention disclosures.

Penn expertise and IP, the report also states, directly impacts more than twenty currently approved drugs, providing life-changing benefits to billions of patients worldwide. Among them are the two most widely deployed COVID vaccines currently available (Comirnaty® and Spikevax®), which rely on foundational mRNA technology discovered at Penn by Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Kariko. Further noting Penn’s far-reaching impact, the report documents more than 2.5 billion Penn-licensed mRNA vaccine doses administered globally.

“The innovation continues to move forward in different ways across many different technology sectors. Take for example the transformative cell and gene therapy ecosystem that has emerged from Penn,” said John Swartley, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Research and Managing Director at PCI. “At this point we can count over 40 cell and gene therapy companies that have come out of Penn and/or which rely on Penn technologies, which is a huge stimulus to the growing ecosystem. And that momentum helps Philadelphia attract other stakeholders such as corporate partners, experienced entrepreneurs and company leaders, as well as investors to the region. We want to continue building on our success by facilitating even more of these types of activities across many different areas,” Dr. Swartley said.

This is just a taste of the material to be found in the report and its accompanying FY22 Stats Poster. The PCI Year in Review FY2022 also includes data and rankings for the region’s life sciences and cell and gene therapy ecosystem, and links to press stories about commercializing and accelerating innovation.

The PCI team has shared the data and success stories in a user-friendly format, as it wants others to leverage the information and statistics as much as possible in their own work, whether that means businesses looking to expand or locate in the region; talent looking to live, work; and study here; investors looking for examples of innovation emanating from the region; or ambassadors looking to share Greater Philadelphia’s story.

Among the articles of interest are stories on the accomplishments of Carisma Therapeutics, a Penn start-up developing engineered monocytes and macrophages for the treatment of cancer, and updates on the Pennovation Works campus, where Penn and Longfellow Real Estate Partners, LLC will be developing a 455,000-square-foot life sciences facility. (The development was also highlighted in the September 2022 edition of this newsletter.)

Innovation@Penn: The Future of mRNA Technology

Another resource PCI is sharing is a link to a recording of Innovation@Penn: The Future of mRNA Technology, a program presented in January at the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus in parallel with the 2023 J.P. Morgan Conference updating on what’s new with mRNA technology. The Penn panel included Dr. Kariko, Co-Inventor of Breakthrough mRNA Technologies; Michael Mitchell, PhD, J. Peter and Geri Skirkanich Professor of Innovation at Penn Engineering; and Laura Shawver, PhD, CEO of Capstan Therapeutics. Capstan is a startup that launched last year and some of the most prominent scientists at Penn are the founders. Read more about Capstan Therapeutics here.

Please connect with these PCI resources and share with your networks.