The National Business Incubation Association has awarded its coveted Soft Landings designation to the University City Science Center’s incubation program.
The science center’s nonprofit incubation program aims to promote the University City neighborhood and the Philadelphia region as an attractive destination for new companies. The program caters to technology and life sciences startups that are based in the United States and abroad.
Incubation programs are meant to assist small and new companies, while promoting the areas where they are located. Christopher Laing, the University City Science Center’s vice president of science and technology, explained that companies often view University City as an attractive destination. “We are located in University City and location matters. These companies, and not just the international companies but all the companies in our incubation program, the largest reason that they give for engaging in our program is because of our close connection to University City institutions like Penn, Children’s Hospital, Drexel and University of the Sciences. They connect very closely with those organizations.”
The National Business Incubation Association’s Soft Landings designation is extremely coveted by incubation programs. Only 23 incubation programs in the world have received the designation since 2005, when the NBIA began giving the designations.
The science center’s incubation program was given particularly high praise for helping foreign startups enter the Philadelphia region. The program provided translation services, technological resources and market capital research to many non-domestic firms. The science center also offers wet labs, state-of-the-art conference rooms and access to business support programs.
The basis for the incubation program’s efforts lie in the hope that once its participating companies get a foothold on the local markets, they will want to stay in the Philadelphia region long term. The incubation program’s ultimate goal is to help the local economy. “The big thing that we’re interested in is job creation. We measure a lot of our activities ultimately on the basis of ‘are we sustaining and creating jobs in the region,’” Laing explained.
The University City Science Center began the incubation program in 2006. Since then the program claims to have created more than 15,000 jobs and contributed more than $9 billion to Philadelphia’s regional economy. The program has assisted more than 20 companies from 10 different countries, and all have stayed in the region to develop and grow their operations.
News of this designation has brought the recognition that University City is home to one of the most respected and successful incubation programs in the world.