Dragging a laser pointer across a screen image of a ribbon, Philadelphia Mayor John Street and University City Science Center President Jill Felix opened a new high-tech incubator on Market Street yesterday. The Port of Technology, an eight-story, 145,000-square-foot facility located at 3701 Market Street, has been touted as the "most wired" building in Philadelphia. It houses high-tech companies and technology support services. "We are broad fiber, we have broad band, we can do everything," Felix told the crowd gathered in the building's lobby. The building's space is already 95 percent leased. The building is part of the University City Science Center, which was founded in 1963 as the world's first business incubator. The facility is overseen by a consortium of 30 academic and scientific institutions, including Penn. The Port of Technology building is located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, meaning tenants of the building are exempt from most city and state taxes until 2011. Both the state and the city provided millions in funding toward the building's construction. The facility is wired with an advanced high-bandwidth fiber-optic network and is served by two separate electrical substations to help ensure the building never loses power. The opening was attended by several hundred people, including employees of affiliated companies, members of community groups, city officials and various other VIPs. Felix and Street were joined onstage by City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who represents the area. Street praised the center, comparing it to this summer's Republican National Convention in terms of its importance to the city's image and economy. He also stressed that technology development is vital for Philadelphia. "The future of the city, of this region, and the future of jobs, the future of wealth creation is with the use of technology," Street said. The president of Kyoto Research Park in Japan, which has worked with the Science Center, spoke at the opening and presented Felix with a bowl featuring the Port of Technology logo. After the ribbon cutting, the building's tenants offered food and tours of their spaces. Women in bright wigs, white makeup and short skirts were stationed in the lobby during the ribbon cutting, handing out business cards for one tenant, InterMedia Interactive Services, an Internet software firm. The company had turned its conference room into the "Love Lounge" for the opening, featuring low lights and lots of food. Two floors of the building are occupied by the Port of Technology incubator. The incubator, run by the Science Center, is designed to help launch new biotechnology and information-technology companies. The incubator provides business mentoring, coaching and management assistant, seed funds and access to the building's network infrastructure. The incubator currently houses 20 early-stage companies in a futuristic space with white, rolling tent-like cubicles designed by Philadelphia-based interior design firm IA/Interspace, which also co-sponsored the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Meridian Telenesis, LLC, occupies the building's fifth floor. The company provides server-co-location services -- other companies pay to house their servers in the firm's facility. The company's spaceship-like main server space is protected by three levels of security -- to enter, customers must use an access card, have their picture checked by a guard and finally use a palm scanner to enter the room. The building's seventh floor, not yet complete, also houses an Internet consulting firm, CTNY. Accounting firm Communications Equities Associates is the building's fifth tenant.
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