Penn Wharton Commercialization Workshop Guides Invention to Entrepreneurship

For three days in early May, faculty, clinicians, and scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and CHOP accessed some of the most successful teaching offerings on innovation and entrepreneurship from across Penn’s campus — all in one classroom.

They attended the fourth annual Penn Wharton Commercialization Workshop, a program offered by the Wharton School and the Mack Institute for Innovation Management, along with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Penn, to find out how they might commercialize their work at Penn and launch a new venture.

Commercialization Workshop 2019 class

According to a survey of the group, participants wanted to learn more about commercializing ideas they have connected to nanomanufacturing, cancer immunotherapy, veterinary medicine, medical devices, artificial intelligence, big data, bioinformatics, and more.

As the group explored the process of evaluating and creating business opportunities, they heard about fundraising and financing, developing a business model, and the legalities of entrepreneurship. Mack Institute Co-director Christian Terwiesch spoke about disruptive innovation, and participants also heard about all the university resources available to support new ventures.

“This was an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. The topics discussed were relevant and very useful to both novice and experienced entrepreneurs and innovators. The faculty were incredibly engaging and clearly experts,” said Kirsten Hickerson, vice chair of Penn’s Department of Family and Community Health Nursing. “I know I speak on behalf of all the attendants — we felt energized and inspired by this workshop!”

When Terwiesch put together the first Commercialization Workshop in 2016, he recognized that while universities are places of invention and commercialization of proven technologies, there was a challenge worth addressing: transforming an idea in a lab into a proven technology.

“Though we teach entrepreneurship and innovation to our students, this content is not easily accessible to faculty, post-docs, scientists, and clinicians,” Terwiesch said three years ago. “This is notable because it is especially this group, and the research produced by this group, that is a critical resource for creating new ventures or intellectual property on campus.”

Commercialization Workshop 2019 group

Since then, about 150 scientists, researchers, post-docs, and faculty — from CHOP, Penn Medicine, the Institute for Biomedical Informatics, and more — have participated in the program, taking away applicable advice. This year’s Commercialization Workshop had the highest attendance yet, and those who completed all three days were named Mack Technology Fellows. The interdisciplinary approach continues to garner fans.

“I walked away with tons of advice on commercializing research and IP issues, and learnt about developing business models,” said Indiwari Gopallawa, postdoctoral researcher, Perelman School of Medicine and Department of Otorhinolaryngology. “I also enjoyed the networking sessions and had the pleasure of meeting like-minded scientists at Penn. I highly recommend this workshop series for postdoctoral researchers and faculty members who want to commercialize their research.”

If you are interested in participating in a future workshop, please contact us directly.

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