Pennovation Takes on SXSW

The UPenn and Philadelphia startup communities were well represented in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference in March.  Members of the Pennovation Works leadership team, PCI Ventures and Penn Center for Innovation were in attendance to help promote their startup portfolios and support Amplify Philly’s goal of attracting the best talent, clients and consumers to live, work and play in Philadelphia. 

Michael Poisel, MS, MBA, Executive Director of PCI Ventures, moderated at the Amplify Philly House entitled “Philly Made: Entrepreneur Round Table”.  He guided the discussion with panelists Charisse McGill, Founder & Owner of Lokal Artisan Foods, Jos Duncan Asé,  Founder, Executive Producer & Publisher of Love Now Media and Ahmed Nimale, Founder and CEO of Kyd Labs sharing about their startup journeys.  The conversation touched on topics like how the Philadelphia ecosystem helped shape and support their ventures, challenges founders faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they’re looking forward to accomplishing in 2023 and beyond.  
Additionally, the Penn-Wharton Austin Alumni Club hosted a networking and pitch event, which included two recent graduates from UPenn’s I-Corps accelerator. Wharton student Noah Levi pitched Percussion, a medical device that utilizes novel non-invasive therapy to treat sinusitis, and IPD Graduate student Nika Koda pitched Blossom, a rehabilitation tool for stroke patients that reduces shame and promotes creativity.
PCI Ventures portfolio managers, Bhavana Mohanraj and Yi-Yen Chen shared their experiences as first time SXSW attendees.  Yi Yen explained, “SXSW provides attendees the opportunity to network with and learn from people of different backgrounds. Unlike other events that are specific to certain industries or verticals, such as JP Morgan and BIO, SXSW attracts professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives from a wide range of industries, including technology, media, music, film, etc. This diversity of attendees creates a unique opportunity to gain insights from people outside of my industry or expertise.”  Bhavana noted, “SXSW highlights emerging trends and innovations across sectors, including the life sciences. Within panels and speakers this year, ML/AI applications was a recurring theme, as well as women's health tech, future of food, and sustainability. We had the opportunity to connect with stakeholders within these areas, and understanding the landscape will help position PCI Ventures portfolio companies for success.”

SXSW 2023 Recap Collage