In conjunction with the TEDxPhiladelphia conference last week, PlanPhilly and Penn Facilities & Real Estate Services teamed up to lead a TEDx field trip to Penn’s South Bank campus to see how Penn is helping Philadelphia become a “New Workshop of the World,” by transforming an ex-industrial campus into a new hub of research and development. In case you missed it, here are some tour photos and highlights.
The TEDxPhiladelphia conference didn’t end last Friday. The next morning PlanPhilly and Penn Facilities & Real Estate Services organized a TEDx extension tour of Penn’s South Bank campus – a 23-acre former industrial complex that Penn has acquired, but is in some ways still deciding what to do with. Penn envisions developing South Bank as a hub for business innovation and an incubator for research with groundbreaking, commercial potential. To get there, the university realizes that incremental change and targeted investment are necessary to realize the site’s transformation.
The South Bank tour brought attendees to three sites where the campus is being used as a workshop for unique, innovative programs – the types of programs that Penn officials hope to attract and foster.
Attendees stopped by the Penn Vet Working Dog Center to see how researchers, led by Dr. Cindy Otto from Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, are training dogs to perform search-and-rescue missions, assist in disease detection, and serve as bomb or bioterrorism detection working dogs.
From the gym-like space where the dogs train, the tour group swung over to the Penn Dental Research Greenhouse, a purpose-built greenhouse where Dr. Henry Daniell and his team are growing genetically modified plants with the capability to not only treat, prevent or cure illnesses like cancer, hemophilia, diabetes and polio but to do so in a way that is more cost effective and feasible than current treatments.
KMel Robotics co-founder Alex Kushleyev then caught the group’s attention with a demonstration of KMel’s quadrotors – programmable drone robots that use four rotors to fly to impressive heights. KMel’s demonstration was in a building that Penn will soon transform into the Pennovation Center, an incubator space for startups.
Kushleyev and his partner Dan Mellinger, who have been working at their South Bank space, were recently named ‘Top 10 Innovators Who Changed the World in 2013’ by Popular Mechanics, and the quadrotors themselves have caught the attention of companies like Lexus, which used them in a recent commercial.
After the tour, attendees heard from Edible Philly, a new local food culture magazine, and Jin+Ja, a startup company making waves with its eponymous product that serves as a chilled cocktail mixer, meat marinade, or cold-season combatant. Like the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, Penn Dental Research Greenhouse and KMel Robotics, Edible Philly and Jin+Ja have found a home at Penn’s South Bank.