The Penn Center for Innovation recently named 1983 College graduate Mark Turco, who built his career as a cardiologist before working in industry, as its inaugural Chief Innovation and Corporate Outreach Officer.
The creation of the position comes as an extension of the Center’s aim to connect Penn faculty and students with external corporations in order to "translate Penn discoveries and ideas into new products and businesses for the benefit of society."
Turco said he is eager to come back to the university where he completed his undergraduate work to continue developing Penn’s innate “innovative spirit.”
“The opportunity to work in the field of innovation is very exciting,” Turco said. “To be innovative you have to be able to reform, transform and truly disrupt areas.”
He said he looks forward to being a resource for both faculty and students across the university so the “great ideas” coming out of Penn are given a place to develop.
“My task is to really be a resource for University faculty and students,” Turco said. “My background as a practicing physician, running a clinical research center and spending a number of years in large industry helped build the relationships needed for some of the corporate outreach I will be responsible for doing.”
Associate Vice Provost for Research and Managing Director John Swartley said Turco is a strong addition to PCI.
“It’s a pretty significant expansion of our capabilities in terms of helping to connect our faculty inventors and entrepreneurs with their counterparts on the industrial side,” Swartley said. “We want to be more proactive and identify opportunities [for our inventors].”
The university launched the Penn Center for Innovation nearly 3 years ago and functions as a “one-stop shop” for innovative faculty and students to form partnerships with the private sector, Laurie Actman, Chief Marketing, Communications and Programs Officer for PCI said.
“[Turco] brings a unique skill set, since he’s a former surgeon…and a lot of Penn discoveries are in the sciences,” Actman said.
Swartley echoed these sentiments and said he believes that Turco offers “a unique perspective” since he was “recently a highly placed executive on the industrial side.”
“He brings to us not only senior level executive experience, but also the perspective of the [private sector],” Swartley said. “He’s spent many years as the guy on the other side of the table from us.”
“We want to continue to expand our ability to bring new partners to Penn,” Actman said. “[Turco] is kind of a big piece of the puzzle for us as we start to go in that direction.”
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