The city of Philadelphia is bankrolling tech internships and workshops, using a series of grants to local firms.
“What we wanted to do was really look carefully at the integration of students and universities with the startup community,” said Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for economic development.
The five grants total $124,000. It’s the second round of grants to flow from the mayor’s $500,000 Startup PHL Call for Ideas fund.
City officials say the program is meant to both boost local startups and retain young tech talent with the lure of paid gigs. Greenberger says the renewed focus on college-age workers drew from experience with a similar program funded by the first round of Startup PHL grants.
Two outside observers say this influx of funding is likely to be a worthwhile investment.
“It’s fair to say that attracting talent is going to be vital to growing a healthy tech sector,” said Jennifer Vey, a fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
“I think you have to look at it as an investment in the city as a whole,” she added. “It’s not just trying to support individual companies by subsidizing labor.”
College hackathon PennApps and makerspace NextFab Studio each received $25,000 for their respective internship and fellowship programs.
The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator and a joint effort by Technically Philly and Philly Startup Leaders both received $25,000 for a series of workshops.
IT firm Zivtech received $24,000 for a six-week boot camp for 30 young entrepreneurs.
“We attract a lot of students as a result of our educational and other institutions in Philadelphia, yet have a challenge in having these students stay,” said David Hsu, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton. “This is an excellent first step.”
Startup PHL also features a $6 million venture fund, seeded with $3 million from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. The fund is managed by First Round Capital.
Its first, and so far only, direct investment in a Philly startup was announced last October.
Deputy mayor Greenberger says another investment announcement is coming soon.
“Because there’s public money involved, I think everybody wants to be just a little more careful and wants to feel like the investments made have a higher probability of succeeding,” Greenberger said.
The second round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants was announced Thursday by Mayor Michael Nutter at the new Center City offices of IT firm SevOne.