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On a campus famous for its student entrepreneurs, the Penn Center for Innovation wants to shift the spotlight to faculty ideas.

On Monday night, President Amy Gutmann and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter headlined a marquee launch event for the PCI. The event featured a performance by the a cappella group, Off the Beat, and took place in the Harold Prince Theater of the Annenberg Center.

The PCI unites various innovation programs at Penn under one umbrella.

One such element of the innovation center, the PCI Ventures program, promotes “entrepreneurial activities and new company around Penn’s leading research and innovations,” according to its website. A highlight of the PCI Ventures program is UPstart, which serves as a virtual incubator for faculty and staff and helps startups grow.

Since its inception in 2010, UPstart has helped over 100 faculty and staff members translate their ideas into startup companies.

Penn-sponsored companies run the gamut from information technology to healthcare management. The common link is a Penn affiliate transforming his idea into entrepreneurial success.

Contrasting with the significant undergraduate entrepreneurial presence in such groups as The Dining Philosophers through the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and The Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement through the Wharton School, the PCI Ventures program is unique in its focus on faculty-led projects.

Penn faculty members have long sponsored the flourishing culture of student startups.

“The startup culture at Penn is driven by students but facilitated by faculty, creating an ecosystem where students can collaborate with one another but receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs,” Wharton sophomore David Greenstein said.

Earlier this month, Greenstein founded, a website that facilitates connections between student entrepreneurs at Penn and other universities and offers information about Penn startups.

Greenstein noted the mutual benefit of student-faculty interactions, saying, “This creates an ideal combination of meshing past experience with present grit of current Penn startups.”

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