Penn Center for Innovation

The Pennovation Center is an innovation hub, business incubator, and laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania that stimulates entrepreneurial activity and promotes the commercialization of research discoveries. This 58,000 square-foot facility, anchors the 23-acre Pennovation Works, located at 3401 Grays Ferry Avenue, adjacent to Penn’s campus and the Health System complex.


The Pennovation Center’s mission is to facilitate the creation and growth of technology-based startup companies in a dynamic community that provides value-added University of Pennsylvania and local tech community resources necessary for start-ups to be successful.  The Center features a shared coworking space operated by Philadelphia’s premier innovation management company, Benjamin’s Desk, including both Penn and private sector funded startups as well as a shared bio-laboratory incubator. The Center also has multiple community spaces reserved for events, programs and other activities that foster collaboration among faculty, students, entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate and economic development partners.

Comcast Pennovation Challenge: Internet of Things

Comcast is seeking 5 to 7 faculty and student teams of up to 5 people to invent and create innovative solutions for the Internet of Things (IOT) on the machineQ™ platform.


By all accounts, the Internet of Things (IOT) opportunity is vast and will continue to grow, with up to 30-50 billion devices coming online by 2020.  IOT has the potential to create new products and services that foster social impact through increased communications and efficiency.  Smart homes and smart buildings connected and communicating are some of the outcomes that are becoming real-world possibilities.  Building out a robust, carrier-grade network will open up this market to a large number of potential users, developers and businesses who have not been able to gain access to IoT opportunities through a combination of prohibitive cost, lack of network and development complexity.

Download the Power Point Presentation here: Comcast Pennovation Challenge


On October 5th, 2016 Comcast announced machineQTM, a new business trial venture focused on business-to-business solutions and a platform for the Internet of Things. ( Initial trial markets will cover the large metropolitan areas in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Comcast is invested in finding solutions that enable partners to gather, transmit, analyze,and control data among connected devices with the goal of creating new solutions and applications. Key opportunity areas include:



Benefits for teams:

Comcast will provide development kits and gateways to accepted teams of up to 5 people along with coaching and technical assistance/office hours during the development process.  All teams will get the opportunity to pitch to key Executives and Investors at a Demo Day.

Two winning teams will receive:

  • 1st Prize: $3k plus 6 month memberships to the Pennovation Center to further develop ideas into start ups
  • 2nd Prize: $1.5k plus 6 month memberships to the Pennovation Center to further develop ideas into start ups
  • BOTH teams win: Automatic acceptance into Penn’s I-Corps program which provides training on customer discovery and business plan creation


  • January – ongoing recruitment of teams
  • FEBRUARY 6– Proposals due
  • Week of Feb 6th – machineQ 101 & Training Session
  • Week of Feb 13th – Office Hours
  • Week of Feb 27th – Office Hours
  • Week of March 13th – Office Hours
  • Week of March 27th – Demo Day

Intellectual Property and Ownership for Penn affiliated teams

In the event that an idea relies on or produces Penn-owned Intellectual Property, it will be treated in accordance with Penn’s policies (see With respect to any idea that (a) does not contain Penn-owned IP according to the Penn Patent Policy and (b) is not chosen for prototype development, the participant(s) will be free to pursue the development of the idea on their own time and at their own expense with no further obligation to the Innovation Challenge.


(After completing your application: Please email your team members’ resumes as a single file to, subject line: Comcast Challenge Resumes)


Pennovation In the News





Specific to the laboratory, the Pennovation Center has multiple shared labs and private customized leasable space options for tenants.  The Center leases lab benches, offices and desk space to small companies with approximately 1 to 12 employees. Lab bench space includes access to shared facility usage and lab equipment, instruments, amenities, and services at no additional charge, which minimizes the capital expenses for early stage companies as a cost effective choice.  The all-inclusive monthly rate eliminates unexpected expenses allowing owners to focus on the business. Our flexible space and lease terms also make expansion easy and quick as company success leads to growth needs.

Benefits for laboratory tenants include:

  • Flexible space and lease terms
  • BSL-1 labs that are ready to convert to BSL-2 labs with custom offices built to the user’s specifications
  • Coworking space with 50+ dedicated desks
  • Established safety program
  • Expand as you grow
  • Vibrant scientific entrepreneur ecosystem
  • Access to key scientific instruments
  • Lab services including glass wash and autoclaving
  • 24 hours and 7 days access
  • Conference and meeting rooms
  • Multimedia technology support
  • Furnished lockable offices, cubicles and desks
  • Kitchen and break room
  • Internet and phone access
  • Key vendors on site for convenience
  • Innovative entrepreneurial programing
  • Investors – Entrepreneur networking events
  • Easy parking on site
  • Mail service, FedEx, UPS and USPS deliveries
  • And more



pennovation 2

Pennovation Works is a unique blend of offices, labs, and production space being developed by The University of Pennsylvania to bridge the intellectual and entrepreneurial initiatives for advancing knowledge and generating economic development.  The 23-acre property adjacent to Penn’s campus will accommodate Penn affiliates in state-of-the-art facilities, including researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry partners solving real world problems and translating inventiveness into viable ventures. By grouping facilities for innovation, technological development, and artistic production/exhibition, Penn envisions a multifaceted workshop for harnessing and commercializing the tremendous creative potential in the region.

pennovation 3

The master plan articulates a phased approach, with the initial development activity focused on constructing light industrial and flex-use buildings easily scaled to fit the needs for practical commercialization and business opportunities.  Pennovation Works will be anchored by the Pennovation Center, a new business incubator and accelerator that will provide lab space and a hub for collaboration, creativity and the exchange of ideas for innovators from all disciplines. Such facilities are key components in the success of research parks as they combine the technically advanced facilities, expert workforce and researchers that a university can supply with the professional development and venture capital that entrepreneurs provide.  This property is strategically situated in a valued location within the Lower Schuylkill Innovation District, and is envisioned to become a keystone securing University City, Center City and the emerging Innovation District, as three engines of Philadelphia’s economy.

Pennovation Works has been attracting tenants to the space since 2010, including such innovators as the Penn Vet Working Dog Center,  the Penn Dental Research Greenhouse, the Penn School of Arts & Sciences Bio Garden, KMel Robotics, Novapeutics, PERCH, Edible Philly, and The Free Library.

Additional information about Pennovation Works is available at

For more information or questions regarding leasing, contact Paul Sehnert, Director of Real Estate Development Management in Penn Facilities & Real Estate Services at 215.573.6845 or