PCI Annual Celebration: Recognizing Faculty Trailblazers

The Penn Center for Innovation (PCI) hosted its third annual Celebration of Innovation last week to honor over 100 patent awardees and honored individuals with the most impressive startups, inventions, devices and deals.

Since Penn’s founding, innovation has been at its core, especially when it comes to the University’s game-changing faculty members. But it’s not every day that these trailblazers are recognized for their revolutionary work.

The event honored faculty members who have worked with PCI—Penn’s very own hub for innovation, venture creation and commercialization—to obtain 107 patents on their creations this past year. 

“Faculty provide the input for everything we do,” said John Swartley, PCI’s associate vice provost for research and managing director. “Without their innovations, we would have no gas for our engine. This is our ‘feel good’ moment and our time to thank everyone.”

Patent awardees received personalized “patent cubes” to mark their achievements, a commemorative gift meant to accumulate in inventors’ offices as the years go on.

The event included a keynote from Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, a steering committee member of PCI. It  also celebrated various Penn spinout companies and leading innovators for their impressive commercialization activities—from devices to deals—during fiscal year 2018. 

Deal of the Year went to Amicus Therapeutics, a biotechnology company working to create therapies to treat orphan diseases; Startup of the Year went to Tmunity Therapeutics, which is developing genetically engineered T-cells; Partner of the Year went to Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which recently opened JPOD @ Philadelphia at the Pennovation Center; Device of the Year went to Michael Kahana, who is working to develop next-generation technologies to improve memory function; Emerging Inventor of the Year went to Boon Thau Loo, whose research focuses on distributed data management systems, internet-scale query processing, and the application of database technologies to networked systems; and Inventor of the Year went to Amos Smith—“a world-renowned synthetic organic chemist who is long past due for PCI to recognize,” said Dr. Swartley.