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John Swartley was named the the first Chief Innovation Officer of the university on Jan. 31 (Photo from Penn Center for Innovation).

The Penn Center for Innovation announced the appointment of John Swartley as the University's first chief innovation officer on Jan. 31.

PCI launched in 2014 to support Penn faculty, staff, and students in commercializing their discoveries and inventions. In the newly created role of Chief Innovation Officer, Swartley will work to expand the center's work across the University as a whole, according to the PCI announcement.

Swartley has served as the center's associate vice provost for research and managing director since 2014. As chief innovation officer, Swartley will collaborate with administration, researchers, University stakeholders, and external partners towards the goal of maintaining Penn’s reputation as a “world-class status as a leader in the field of technology development, translation, and commercialization," according to the announcement.  

Swartley came to Penn in 2007 as the senior director and head of new ventures for the Center for Technology Transfer. Since then, he has focused on expanding the commercialization of faculty research by facilitating new license agreements, corporate networking, and new venture exploration.

PCI's technology development and commercial partnering efforts experienced success under Swartley's direction. In 2021, the center supported 142 initiatives that earned a United States-issued patent. Penn-affiliated startups also raised the most funds at the time at $815 million, according to the center's report.

In the Association of University Technology Managers' annual survey, Penn ranked first in licensing income across over 150 participating institutions for 2021. 

“These results, and all the other equally important indicators of Penn’s success, are a direct result of the exceptional research, development, and innovative breakthroughs made by the University’s world-class faculty and research community,” Swartley told Penn Today.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that in 2022, Penn’s licensing earnings were at $1 billion, and the University has collected the highest amount of gross licensing revenue among its peers for the last two reporting years running.

Benjamin Dibling, who previously held the role of PCI deputy managing director, was promoted to fill Swartley's role. In the announcement, Swartley expressed confidence in Dibling's leadership. 

“I look forward to working with stakeholders across the University to further expand and capitalize on our already robust innovation portfolio,” Swartley said.