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American Idol to hold auditions for final season in Philadelphia

As the reality TV juggernaut nears retirement, it's coming to Philadelphia to search for singers.

If you’ve been waiting to audition for the hit Fox-TV show “American Idol, “ your last chance may be upon you – and luckily an audition opportunity is coming nearby for the show’s final season.

“American Idol” 15 auditions will be held Aug. 2 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, 1776 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.

The stop is among  five scheduled stops auditions that started July 10 at Denver Coliseum in Colorado. The next is scheduled for Wednesday at Martin Luther King, Jr. Arena in Savannah, Ga. Other scheduled stops are Aug. 8 at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark., and Sept. 15 at Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif.

Those who wish to audition will line up the morning of Aug. 2 at The Liacouras Center to register. If you wait until late in the day on audition day to register, the auditions may run out of space and time.

Original source: Allentown Morning Call
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Looking for housing for the Pope's visit? The floor might be your best bet

Housing all the anticipated visitors coming to town for the Pope's visit in September continues to be a favorite topic of discussion.

There aren't enough beds for the more than 1 million visitors expected to flood Philadelphia when Pope Francis visits in September, particularly for those trying to be frugal. So Belinda Lewis Held had to be creative when it came to sheltering the more than 1,000 young people she's guiding that weekend: They'll be bunking down in museums, classrooms and churches.

"They're young and they don't mind the floors. They'll bring sleeping bags or yoga mats and pillows," said Lewis Held, director of group travel for APilgrimsJourney.com, a Pittsburgh company that organizes worldwide Catholic tours. "They're willing to rough it for Pope Francis."

With the papal visit imminent and the city's 11,500 hotel rooms filling up quickly, wannabe visitors are thinking outside the box(spring) when it comes to lodgings, particularly when they want to keep costs down.

Philadelphia officials may permit camping in some public parks, and untraditional offerings have appeared online. On Airbnb, a Delaware River houseboat was booked but a converted dance studio was still available late this week. Craigslist had a listing for an empty warehouse and multiple couch surfing options.

Original source: The Associated Press via The New York Times
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Financial Times spotlights Elixr Coffee Roasters in Philadelphia

Financial Times shows some love for Elixr Coffee Roasters in its Business Travel section.

Stumbling in by accident is practically impossible, as the café is located on a side street with little foot traffic and has just a nondescript sign on the front door.

The lucky few who find the place are rewarded with a lively ambience and decor, premium low-roast coffee sourced from Central and South America and vegan doughnuts baked fresh each morning.

Despite the minimal branding, Elixr has become a popular haunt in the Center City district -- for business people, students, entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to collaborate or share ideas. Private and communal seating is plentiful, with two-seater tables as well as a lounge area and community tables.

Original source: Financial Times
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Philly crosswalks get colorful to celebrate LGBT rights

The crosswalks in Philadelphia's Gayborhood were recently repainted in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

The crosswalks appeared Thursday morning. Backers say they were planned for some time.

Philly Pride Presents senior adviser Chuck Volz says the crosswalks were completed at a cost far less than the initial $26,000 estimate.

Independence Visitor Center employee Albert Lee says the crosswalks show tourists that Philadelphia is a gay-friendly city.

The rainbow crosswalks [were] dedicated at the Annual Reminders Block Party on July 5 honoring the 50th anniversary of the first wave of U.S. LGBT rights group demonstrations.

Source: Associated Press via Time
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Putting the state's youth to work over the summer

Fewer American teenagers are holding down summer jobs. Some organizations are working hard to combat the problem.

The absence of work means more than having no money for a mobile phone or a night out with friends. A summer job can provide essential experience that is crucial to snagging better jobs later, experts say. Research shows that for every year teenagers work while in high school, income rises an average of 15 percent when they are in their 20s.

If that’s true for Nasir Mack, he may be wealthy by the time he turns 30. The 16-year-old is starting his third summer in the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program. In the past, he was employed by an engineering company and a community college. This summer, he will work at the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

When Nasir first heard about the program through friends, he jumped at the chance, given the alternative. “I’m not going to be doing anything but sitting in the house,” he said. “Why would I want to do that when there are so many things out there you can be doing?”

Original source: The New York Times
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Is the country's best pizza made in Philadelphia?

Bon Appetit thinks so, shining a light on Pizzeria Beddia in Philly's Fishtown neighborhood.

When I visited Pizzeria Beddia a few months after its March 2013 opening, I didn’t know what to expect. Solid neighborhood pizza made by an owner who cared? I figured I’d order a pie, congratulate Beddia on realizing his dream, and head to my next meal—the real reason I was in town. Beddia’s food would likely be a solid addition to the Philly scene, perhaps even the East Coast. As it turned out, Pizzeria Beddia was one of those beautiful eating experiences that still haunts me. I wasn’t on vacation, and there wasn’t some well-designed setting distorting my senses. It was just me and that pizza in a forgettable space. But it changed everything.?

Original source: Bon Appetit
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PA Little Leaguers head south for a trip through history

The New York Times' Frank Bruni writes about the confluence of baseball and black history through the lens of the Anderson Monarchs and their star Mo'ne Davis. 

Last summer, a 13-year-old named Mo’ne Davis landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a national sensation after she pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, where almost all of the other players are boys. She’s believed to be the only black girl ever to participate in the competition.

This summer, she plans to do something else surprising: Visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four black girls were killed in a 1963 bombing. Three of them were 14. Mo’ne will turn that age on the day she shows up at the landmark...

But over three weeks in late June and early July, she and 13 other kids on her team here — the rest of them boys, most of them black, all roughly her age — have a schedule of exhibition games across the country that mixes exhilarating notes with somber ones.

They’re not just hitting the road. They’re taking it south, into history: the church in Birmingham, the bridge in Selma. They’ll play ball, then visit Little Rock Central High School, a battleground in the fight to integrate schools. They’ll swing for the fences, then bow their heads at the house in Jackson, Miss., where Medgar Evers lived...

Throughout the year, the team has been meeting weekly to watch movies and discuss reading assignments about the African-American experience and civil rights. In advance of a summer tour in 2012 of cities and stadiums that were important in the Negro Leagues, Bandura required that they study up on the history of baseball and its integration.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philly's Khyber Pass named one of the country's top bars

The Old City watering hole has earned a spot on Esquire's annual list of the country's best bars:

Back in the 1980s, the Khyber was where all the punk bands played. Nowadays the bands are gone and it's a lot cleaner. But there's still a great rock 'n' roll jukebox, decent New Orleans food (and cocktails), and a whole lot of craft beer on tap.

Original source: Esquire
Read the complete list here

Philadelphia International Airport eyes expansion

The Philadelphia International Airport has its eyes on International Plaza, a 27-acre parcel.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the legislation, calling for the city to buy the office buildings and the 27 acres and lease them to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

Officials said the buildings could be demolished to make room for some combination of new facilities for the airport and possibly for United Parcel Service.

"If you had asked me 20 years ago, does it make sense for the airport to acquire International Plaza, my answer would be the same as it is today: absolutely," said James Tyrrell, deputy Philadelphia aviation director of property and business development.

Original source: Associated Press via Lancaster Online
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A growing industry, float spas relieve stress for Pennsylvanians

Float spas are experiencing a mini boom -- the Philadelphia area has seen at least three float centers open in the past 15 months.

Allen Hughes said the concept of floatation therapy took a long time to sink in.

The management consultant, a self-described "high strung" type who's always looking for new ways to relieve stress, said he didn't think floating in water could bring him that much relaxation.

"This is something crazy people do," he recalled thinking.

But after trying it for the first time in March, Hughes has become a regular at East Coast Float Spa in the Philadelphia suburb of West Chester, Pennsylvania. There, immersed in darkness and silence, he floats effortlessly in a private, shallow saltwater pool and just ... lets ... go.

Floating is enjoying a renaissance after virtually disappearing for decades. Its current popularity stems in part from high-profile enthusiasts like comedian/UFC commentator Joe Rogan and some professional athletes, who tout the practice as a way to clear their minds, relieve muscle aches and temporarily unplug from the world...

"I was kind of a little bit wary about it, but intrigued in the same breath," said Edu, a midfielder for the Philadelphia Union. "For me, I felt the benefit straight away. I think it helped me to recover between games a lot quicker."

East Coast Float Spa co-owner Matt Kay became a devotee of floatation therapy three years ago after trying it in California to ease chronic hip pain from a car accident. He opened his center in September and had 1,000 float clients within the first six months.

Customer Hughes, of Yeadon, Pennsylvania, describes the experience as "completely refreshing."

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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Amtrak crash raises huge questions about transportation and infrastructure spending

The train disaster, which happened only a few miles from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, raises a lot of questions about the state of our country's infrastructure. 

Investigators into the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia are focusing on excess speed, but there is a related issue: the overall condition of Amtrak and the nation’s infrastructure. One of the reasons that American trains should not travel 100 miles an hour in many places is that the state of our rail system — like the state of our bridges, highways and airports — is not good...

Much of the problem of crumbling infrastructure has existed for years. There is, however, a new development that has made things worse. The combined money that federal, state and local governments spend on construction has dropped significantly, relative to the size of the economy, in the last five years. And only part of the decline stems from the end of the stimulus program, which temporarily lifted infrastructure spending.

Such spending now represents about 1.5 percent of total economic activity, down from about 1.8 percent on average from 1993 through 2008. It’s at its lowest level in at least 22 years. (A hat-tip to Joe Weisenthal, of Business Insider, who calculated this statistic in 2013, after the collapse of a bridge near Seattle.)

Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president, sent an email to us today making an argument similar to Mr. Weisenthal’s: More infrastructure spending would both make accidents less likely and bring economic benefits.

Original source: The New York Times
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Universities and drug companies partner to tackle big diseases

New partnerships between universities and drug companies show promises for complex diseases. 

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to start a research institute and a company aimed at curing H.I.V. infection and AIDS... The company and the university will each own half of the new company, Qura Therapeutics, which will have the rights to commercialize any discoveries... 

The arrangement is part of a trend in which pharmaceutical companies are working directly with university researchers. Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, are building a research center on the Philadelphia campus to work on ways to genetically alter a patient’s immune cells to battle cancer.

But while the University of Pennsylvania partnership is already producing striking remissions in some cancer patients, the attempt to cure H.I.V. is expected to take far longer and may fall short. The $20 million being contributed is a small sum for a company like Glaxo, which spent close to $5 billion on research and development last year.

Original source: The New York Times
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Three Philadelphia women get a deal in the 'Shark Tank'

Zoom Interiors, a startup run by three Philly transplants, earned a deal on the ABC show that funds promising entrepreneurs. In the end, Barbara Corcoran offered $100,000 for 33 percent of the company.

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover all met as students during their first interior design course at George Washington University. “We became friends instantly and worked together for the next three years of design school learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Fischel-Bock said.

The company was born after friends started asking them to design their first apartments upon graduation. However, at the time they were all studying abroad, but quickly realized they were still able to assist their friends, who were all on budgets.
“It dawned on us that this is clearly an undeserved part of the market,” Fischel-Bock explained. “The design industry had just been shaken by the recession and people were very conscious about affordability. We decided to try our new formula with paying customers.”

...After starting their business in Washington DC, where they were in school, they moved to Philly after graduation. Fischel-Bock refers to the city as “the best kept secret on the East coast.” “It has the highest rate of millennials moving in to the city and just has such an authentic feel. The startup community is very close knit and supportive and continues to grow,” she said.

Original source: The Heavy
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Philly exports its culinary legacy: Cheesesteaks, water ice, soft pretzels and Wawa

A couple Philly mainstays -- Rita's, Tony Luke's, Philly Pretzel Factory, Wawa -- look to take over the world.

The man intent on taking the Philly cheesesteak global saw a familiar sight from home on a recent trip to Florida: a Wawa.
The hoagie-making, coffee-brewing convenience and gas chain from the Philadelphia area is pushing hard into the Sunshine State, opening more than 60 stores since 2012 with another 25 planned by the end of the year.

Albie Misci, sales director at cheesesteak chain Tony Luke's, knows the idea.

He's helping take Philly's most famous culinary treat to Florida, California and even the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain.

Other staples from the City of Brotherly Love, including its beloved soft pretzels and water ice, are also going global, as their Philadelphia-based purveyors aggressively expand into national - and international - chains.

Original source: Associated Press
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Family takes epic journey from Argentina to PA for Pope's visit

A family embarks on an epic journey from South America, aiming to arrive in time for the Pope's visit to Philadelphia. 

As many as two million people are expected to be in Philadelphia for the visit by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September. But it’s unlikely any of them will have a journey as long — or as remarkable — as one family from Argentina.

Packed in a 1980 VW minibus are Noël Zemborain; her husband, Alfredo Walker (nicknamed ‘Catire’); and their four kids: Carmin, 2; Mia, 5; Dimas, 8; and Cala, 12.

“It’s a very big family,” says Noël. “A very intense family experience.”

That’s putting it mildly.

In March, mom and dad ditched their jobs, drained their savings, and told their three girls and one boy that they were about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

“We are traveling all through the continents toward Philadelphia,” says Noël. “We are meeting people, we are learning things about them, and getting to know other ways of living.”

Original source: CBS
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Paste Magazine drinks its way across Philly's craft beer scene

Paste highlights 10 Philadelphia breweries, including some of our favorites. 

Philly Beer Week is swiftly approaching, but if you cannot wait until May, quench your thirst at the storied pillars of Philadelphia’s craft brew scene any time of the year. Philadelphians are as proud of their beer as they are of monuments like the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and the Rocky Steps. Nothing could possibly go better with a Philly cheesesteak than an ice-cold brew.

Original source: Paste Magazine
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PA chefs earn James Beard Award nominations

Several Pennsylvania chefs and restauranteurs have earned honors from the prestigious organization. They include: 

Marc Vetri, Vetri, Philadelphia
Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia (the Dandelion, Talula’s Garden, Serpico and others)
Alex Bois, High Street on Market, Philadelphia
Joe Cicala, Le Virtù, Philadelphia
Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
Greg Vernick, Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia

Check out the full list of nominations here

Original source: The New York Times

Philadelphia Inquirer publishes gorgeous in-depth report on East Market development

The Inquirer takes an in-depth look at an essential section of Center City Philadelphia and its latest chapter.

If Philadelphia were a basketball court, Market Street East would be that inexplicable dead spot on the floor, the place where the ball just doesn’t bounce.

The eight-block corridor has four Dunkin’ Donuts and two Subway sandwich shops — but no outdoor cafe. A McDonald’s sits in what used to be a porn emporium...

For years, when people like Paul Levy pitched the route’s potential to developers, they answered, “Yeah, I get it, but nobody goes to Market Street.”

Now that’s changing — fast.

People involved in massive construction plans say that, finally, Market East is poised to become the worthy, prosperous connector of Center City’s two great icons, City Hall and Independence Mall.

“The pieces are in place,” said Levy, president of the Center City District, the marketing and planning agency. “’Inevitable’ may be too strong a word, but, ‘Very highly likely.’”

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

The Pennsylvania Ballet takes on Swan Lake

The Pennsylvania Ballet takes on Swan Lake, the classic tale of dark versus light.

Despite the dramatic confusions of this “Swan Lake,” which unfolds as if happening not only at an enchanted lakeside but also in a Parisian ballet studio, [Christopher] Wheeldon adds consistent choreographic touches that are fresh, engaging and rewardingly reminiscent of the work of Britain’s great Frederick Ashton, whose aesthetic helped shape Mr. Wheeldon’s career at its start in England. Pennsylvania Ballet’s dancers render the choreographic admixture of this “Swan Lake” smoothly and convincingly.

While the swan maiden ensemble may not display the sometimes signature, deeply arched torso often associated with the dancing and groupings of the ballet’s lakeside scenes, Pennsylvania’s 20-strong corps de ballet performs the iconic swan choreography with cohesive coordination and caringly detailed accents. Even if the men are not presented here in quite so concentrated a way as the women, the company’s male dancers make marks of their own. Craig Wasserman, for one, stood out with springing energy and a bright manner in the Act 1 Pas de Trois.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
Read the complete review here.

Two Philly spots make GQ's top 25 restaurants list

Two Philadelphia restaurants have earned a place of honor of GQ's list of the country's 25 best restaurants.

Laurel at #8: The room might well be a shotgun apartment: front door leading to a tiny area (seating twenty) leading straight back to an undersized kitchen. There's not much decor, save for a few black iron sconces and hanging lamps. The chairs are exceedingly comfy, the service attentive, the stemware pleasing—all enhancements to a BYOB dining experience with a style of cooking I loved back when it was called “modern French.” Yet the most stunning dish was pure Americana, catfish in a coconut-clam broth. Hard to imagine a kitchen in Philly accomplishing what the South has been trying to do for centuries: make catfish elegant. Chef Nicholas Elmi does it gracefully. His meat dishes are intensely flavorful, particularly duck magret and foie gras. Stylishness has come to East Passyunk Avenue, once ground zero for cheesesteaks, now fast emerging as Philly's premier dining locale.

Lo Spiedo at #24: Come here for a little history and a lot of meat. Lo Spiedo is located just inside the old navy yard, where the battleship New Jersey was built. Almost as sturdy is the reginette bolognese. “Too much meat,” I griped. “Marc Vetri knows what he's doing,” argued a friend. He always does. Here you'll find glorified Americanized Italian food, including a gutsy celery-root milanese sandwich. If vegetarians gave out medals, it deserves the Navy Cross.
Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates the movies

The Philadelphia Flower Show pays tribute to Disney and Pixar films with the theme "Celebrate the Movies." The show runs through March 8.

Meticulously landscaped exhibits have been inspired by more than a dozen features, from "Frozen" and "Finding Nemo" to "Cars" and "Cinderella."

Visitors enter through a huge, art deco theater facade as if they were attending a red carpet premiere. Palm trees, roses and lilies help recreate the ornate interior of a 1920s movie palace, while moss, jewels, fabric and other blooms cascade down from "chandeliers" overhead.

Billed as the nation's largest and longest-running flower show, it covers 10 acres and dates back to 1829. Organizers hope this year's family-friendly theme will help a new crop of gardening enthusiasts establish roots at the annual extravaganza, which runs through March 8.

"Introducing that new generation, that younger generation to the flower show is something that we want to do," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show.

Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
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Drexel student starts feeding frenzy in the 'Shark Tank'

A Drexel student-entrepreneur started a feeding frenzy in the Shark Tank, eventually earning a deal with two sharks for his app SchollyCheck out the video here.

Original source: ABC

Buzz Bissinger lists some Dos and Don'ts for the arriving DNC hordes

The curmudgeonly author of 'Prayer for the City' shares some tips with Politico readers. Some of our favorites:

DON’T come near a cheesesteak. They are gnarly and fundamentally deranged in conception. Until you eat one. Then they are almost worth the guilt you will inevitably feel because you just ate one and likely ingested fifty or sixty thousand calories. Instead satisfy your cravings in what is America's most interesting and diverse culinary city. Try one of the many BYOBs. They are small and intimate and the food stunning and the cost reasonable.

DO drive on the Schuylkill Expressway one night to see the twinkling lights of Boathouse Row against the backdrop of the art museum and the Fairmount Water Works and the city skyline. It is the single most spectacular view in the city. Then be prepared to die since the expressway is the worst engineered highway in history (for a real death thrill, take the South Street exit heading east and try to merge).

DO be prepared to have a ball. The city is truly divine and you will feel pampered. Now if only there was no convention …

Original source: Politico
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The 2016 Democratic National Convention comes to the Keystone State

Philadelphia has been awarded the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It's a huge boon for the area and a symbol of its progress.

Maybe it was the private nighttime visit to Independence National Historical Park, where the Democrats’ top national official got to touch the Liberty Bell.

Whatever it was that sealed the deal, Democrats on Thursday chose Philadelphia for their 2016 national convention, looking ahead to Independence Hall and other symbols of America’s birth bathing their presidential nominee in a patriotic aura.

"In addition to their commitment to a seamless and safe convention, Philadelphia’s deep-rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering," Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who had caressed the Liberty Bell, said in her announcement.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.


Philadelphia University basketball coach passes tremendous milestone

This Pennsylvania legend recently became only the second NCAA men's basketball coach to win 1,000 games. 

[Philadelphia University coach Herb] Magee hit the milestone with the Rams' 80-60 win over Post on Saturday. He has won all 1,000 games over 48 seasons at the 3,600-student private Division II university in Philadelphia.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the only other NCAA men's coach to win 1,000 games. Krzyzewski won his 1,000th game on Jan. 25 against St. John's at Madison Square Garden. He is the fourth men's coach in all divisions to reach the milestone.
Magee needed two tries after the Rams (15-6, 9-3 Central Athletic Collegiate Conference) lost this week to Wilmington.

"Relief. I don't make that up," Magee said. "That's the way I felt. Ask my wife, she'll tell you. It's been a tough situation because the hype is there and everyone is pulling for us as a team but they're really pulling for me to get 1,000 wins because they know how important it is. It means a lot."

Original source: The New York Times
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The New York Times reviews the Pennsylvania Ballet under new director

The New York Times visits the Merriam Theater to check out the Pennsylvania Ballet under new director Angel Corella.

On Saturday, I watched two performances of a triple bill at the attractive Merriam Theater (to be a century old in 2018). My particular interest was in “Shift to Minor,” a world premiere by Matthew Neenan, whose position as resident choreographer Mr. Corella recently extended by three years, and in a revival of George Balanchine’s “The Prodigal Son.” The audience loved both, as well as Christopher Wheeldon’s opening “Polyphonia.” But it is not from these pieces that we can judge Mr. Corella’s taste; for that, we’ll have to wait until he announces his 2015-16 season. The most immediate shifts of emphasis lie in dancers beneath principal level.

In Philadelphia, the program was advertised with a poster image of a newly promoted soloist, Alexander Peters, as the Prodigal. Mr. Peters and a corps dancer imported by Mr. Corella this summer, Mayara Pineiro, were also prominent in “Shift to Minor.” And Saturday’s performances also gave important breaks to two other dancers added by Mr. Corella: the soloist Oksana Maslova and the corps dancer Etienne Diaz. Ms. Maslova and Ms. Pineiro have unusually glamorous presences, considerable poise and technical flair; Mr. Diaz has a boyish charm and athletic energy that somewhat recall Mr. Corella’s own.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete review here.

Philly 0.0 Instant Gratification Run is all fun, no work

This run has everything -- drinks, t-shirts, food -- without the actual running.

The Philly 0.0 Instant Gratification Run finished a step after it started Friday night. An official time of 1 second was given to each of the estimated 350 participants, who paid $20 to $35 apiece for a T-shirt, beer, food and live music. It was a race like any other race except for, well, the actual running.

Traditional races have spawned any number of novelty alternatives: obstacle courses featuring mud, fire and barbed wire; mile runs in which participants chug a beer before each of four laps around a track; color runs in which participants are showered with kaleidoscopic cornstarch.

And now, inspired by a cartoon, comes the nonrun, with the motto “All the fun, none of the commitment!”

Depending on one’s view, Friday’s race was an existential comment on engagement and responsibility; a critique or embrace of entitlement and self-importance; a celebration or rejection of couch-potato sloth; a chance for serious runners to shake off the midwinter doldrums with silly fun; or a sly enticement of nonrunners, luring them to what may be the best part of a race — the after-party.

“We wanted to prove that with no hard work, no perseverance and no discipline, anyone can be a winner,” said Dan Babeu, 40, of Levittown, Pa.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

PA college student to appear on 'Shark Tank'

PA student-entrepreneur Christopher Gray will pitch his scholarship app Scholly on ABC's 'Shark Tank.'

Airing of the show will be next Friday, Feb. 20, at 9 p.m. on ABC. A show teaser says Gray, an undergraduate student at Drexel University, kept things interesting: "Interest in a scholarship app created by a student from Philadelphia ignites into the most heated Shark fight ever with three of the Sharks walking out of the Tank!"

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Washington Post backs Philly for 2016 Democratic Convention

The Washington Post blogger thinks Philly is an ideal choice for the 2016 Democratic Convention.

As much as I love my home town, New York City, and would love to see Brooklyn host the 2016 Democratic convention, I have to agree with my MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews. The party’s next presidential standard-bearer should accept the nomination in Philadelphia. “By gathering in iconic Philadelphia, Democrats could lay claim to not just the flag but what it stands for,” Matthews argued Sunday in The Post. “A week there, sparkling with American values, could produce the kind of inspiring national convention we’ve missed in recent years.”?

Original source: The Washington Post
Read the complete story here.

Drexel tackles the complex town-gown dynamic in West Philly

NPR's Code Switch blog takes a look at the ways Drexel is rethinking the traditional town-gown dynamic, especially with its Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Like many expanding colleges and universities, Drexel has put real estate pressure on its surrounding neighborhoods including Mantua, a predominantly black community and one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. The school is now trying to counteract that pressure with a center designed to serve not just faculty and students but mainly local residents.

"Developers were looking at this beautiful 1.3-acre site and were saying, 'Boy, we could put a lot of student housing on the block!' " explains Lucy Kerman, who oversees the Dornsife Center as Drexel's vice provost for university and community partnerships. "What's intentional is to look at this as a resource for the community and to say, 'No, that's not what's going to happen.'"

Original source: NPR
Read the complete story here.

Pope's visit causes headaches for engaged couples

Pity the local couples who had selected September 26, 2015 as their big day:

Nearly everything was set by the end of August.

The church was chosen, hall booked. The groomsmen would wear gray tuxes and light blue dresses for the bridesmaids. At the reception, there will be touches of the Jersey Shore — the place where Brittany Lowell and Jeff Doney first went steady...

Everything was going smoothly and then last November planning hit a big roadblock: Pope Francis.

The leader of the world’s largest Christian church confirmed he'd make his first trip to the United States and spending three days in Philadelphia from September 25-27 to take part in the World Meeting of Families conference and deliver mass to some 2 million people.

“As soon as that happened I went into panic mode,” the 26-year-old legal secretary and dance instructor from Northeast Philly said.

It’s not the serious influx of visitors or the traffic or the increased security that is causing a snag, rather, finding a place for the newlyweds-to-be and their guests to stay.

Original source: NBC 10
Read the complete story here.

Temple University's online MBA program ranked No. 1

U.S. News and World Report has named Temple University's Fox School of Business the nation's best online MBA program.

Temple, tied with Indiana University and theUniversity of North Carolina, scored a perfect score of 100 when judged on faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, peer reputation and admissions selectivity.
Is it validation for Temple? "Absolutely, yes," said Darin Kapanjie, academic director of the online MBA program.

Temple's online MBA program launched in fall 2009 under Kapanjie's leadership. He came to Temple in 2003 as a faculty member in the statistics department, and actively took to integrating technology into the classroom...

The program has since developed an online and digital learning team, which has seven in-house instructional designers that help the Temple faculty organize and deliver their courses online most effectively. There are also two technology support specialists and two staffers in charge of video production. (The Fox school has its own TV studio, where faculty members can record their lectures).

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philly named No. 3 'Place to Go in 2015' by New York Times

Philly earns a coveted spot on this yearly list of "52 Places to Go."

"A series of projects has transformed Philadelphia into a hive of outdoor urban activity. Dilworth Park, formerly a hideous slab of concrete adjoining City Hall, reopened this past autumn as a green, pedestrian-friendly public space with a winter ice-skating rink (and a cafe by the indefatigable chef Jose Garces). Public art installations, mini “parklets” and open-air beer gardens have become common sights. The Delaware River waterfront was reworked for summer 2014 with the Spruce Street Harbor Park (complete with hammocks, lanterns and floating bar) becoming a new fixture, following the renovation of the Race Street Pier, completed in 2011, and offers free yoga classes on a bi-level strip of high-design decking and grass. The city’s other river, the Schuylkill, has its own new boardwalk. To top it off, this spring, Philadelphia will get its first bike share program, making this mostly flat city even more friendly for those on two wheels."

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete list here.

Philly will be home to Forbes' Under 30 Summit for years to come

Forbes has announced that Philadelphia will play host to its yearly youth-oriented summit for the foreseeable future.

After a successful first yearForbes magazine's Under 30 Summit will be back in Philadelphia this October. The announcement came as the media company unleashed its newest 30 Under 30 Who are Moving the World list Monday.

The inaugural summit brought together about 1,500 young movers-and-shakers, mostly from past Under 30 lists, for educational panels, pitch contests, TED-style presentations, music and food festivals. Last year's speakers included Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate, who detailed her campaign for girls' education, and Monica Lewinsky, who talked about the culture of digital harassment. Also on the lineup were Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable; Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby ParkerJosh Kushner, managing partner of Thrive Capital; and Steve Case, founder of AOL.

"While we have no multi-year contract, we have every intention of making Philadelphia our long-term home," said Wendy Furrer Egan, senior director of editorial publicity at Forbes.

This year's summit will take place Oct. 4-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and other venues in the city...

Lane, from Forbes, told the Philadelphia Business Journal last year that the No. 1 reason he chose Philadelphia as the go-to destination was because of its location. He named its proximity to other major cities, like New York and Washington, D.C., as well as its simplicity to get to via public transportation — whether train, bus or plane.

Of course, Philadelphia's young crowd and "increasing entrepreneurial world view," he said, is a plus.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

The Barnes Foundation finds new executive director

After an exhaustive search, the shifting Philly institution has found a new leader.

The Barnes Foundation — now in its third year in its gleaming new home in downtown Philadelphia after a contentious relocation — announced on Wednesday that it had chosen Thomas Collins, a longtime museum leader and curator, to become its new executive director and president after a search of almost a year.

Mr. Collins, known as Thom, has served for nearly five years as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, previously known as the Miami Art Museum and renamed in 2012 to recognize a multimillion-dollar gift of art and cash from the developer Jorge M. Pérez. Under Mr. Collins’s leadership, the museum constructed a new building designed by the firm Herzog & de Meuron that opened in December 2013 and attracted 300,000 visitors in its first year, far exceeding expectations...

Asked his opinion about the Barnes’s relocation from the suburb of Merion — permitted in a 2004 court decision that circumvented the charter and bylaws of Barnes, who had stipulated that his collection could not be lent, sold or moved from its original home — Mr. Collins said: “To me it seems like an unqualified success. I have no reservations now about it at all, and I wouldn’t be going there if I did.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Wharton student -- and founder of four companies by age 21 -- reflects

The New York Times spoke with Daniel Fine, a serial entrepreneur and Wharton student who's staying in school.

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics...

Q. You considered applying for a Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant to forgo college and pursue your dream?
A. I made it through the second round, but I didn’t complete my application. At Penn, I’ve absolutely learned in the classroom, but it’s been a much greater benefit being here and growing as a person and learning who I am, what I’m becoming and what I’m hoping to be.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

VIDEO: MSNBC showcases Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philly's top startups

MSNBC's Your Business highlights the story of Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philadelphia's most innovative -- and greenest -- startups. 

Check out the video here.

Bye Bye Tokens: Philly's transit system blasts into the future

Septa's long-anticipated high-tech update is on the way -- and Philly is jumping straight to the top of the queue. 

A public transit system that still uses metal tokens and paper transfers - yes, in the 21st century - appears finally to be moving into the era of debit cards and pay-by-cellphone technology.

Philadelphia riders can now see evidence of SEPTA Key, the long-awaited smart card system for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Dozens of computerized kiosks, turnstiles and fare boxes have popped up in stations and on vehicles, and testing begins this month.

"We see this project as taking us in the fare payment industry from last place to first place," said Kevin O'Brien, SEPTA senior program manager.

Original source: The Associated Press via The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia's casino soap opera takes another twist

Philadelphia's latest gambling license was awarded to a South Philadelphia project. It's the latest in a wave of casino projects coming to the East Coast.

A $425 million project with a casino and a boutique hotel rising in the stadium district of Philadelphia is the latest entrant into the tumultuous world of East Coast gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded a license on Tuesday to a joint venture of Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment to build the Philadelphia area’s fourth gambling hall and the 13th casino in the state.

The decision came as New York is edging closer to approving up to four Las Vegas-style casinos at locations outside of New York City. Massachusetts recently approved two billion-dollar casinos, one at either end of the state. And in Connecticut, some lawmakers are talking about expanding the state’s casino industry to protect its market share.

The frenzy of casino building is taking place in what is widely regarded as the most competitive market in the country despite flat or falling gambling revenues in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The Pope is coming to Philadelphia; could draw a million people to a public Mass

Pope Francis has announced a 2015 U.S. trip with Philadelphia as the flagship stop.

Pope Francis confirmed on Monday that he will make his first papal visit to the United States in September to attend an international meeting in Philadelphia on the theme of family, as part of an American journey that is also expected to include a stop in New York...

Francis’ visit to Philadelphia is expected to draw as many as a million people to a Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of the city.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Big drama over UberX in Philadelphia

The launch of UberX, the company's more casual cousin, in Philadelphia has been full of drama -- and there's no end in site.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In its PUC filing, Uber said it "has no intention to launch service in the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without authority from the Commission."

That night, Uber announced the launch of UberX service in Philadelphia, citing the insurance issue and saying it wanted to "ensure you have the convenient and affordable transportation options you deserve."

Asked about the apparent conflict, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in an e-mail:

"What we have in Philadelphia is a real transportation emergency. When a number of taxis still don't have adequate insurance, going from one unrated company to another, Philadelphians deserve the safe and reliable options they're demanding."

From the Daily Pennsylvanian:

During the two days after UberX’s Oct. 24 launch, PPA Officials stopped six UberX drivers and impounded their cars.

“Our policy is to do everything we can to shut them down,” Fenerty said. He explained that when UberX drivers are caught, they will be fined $1,000 and have their cars impounded. Uber will also be fined $1,000 for “aiding and abetting an illegal taxi service,” as well as an additional $750 for operating an illegal dispatch system.

But Uber is fighting back. As of Oct. 15, more than 43,000 individuals signed a petition that asked for the state to legalize UberX, but legislators say that it is not going to be approved until 2015. Uber has spent almost $100,000 on lobbying efforts to get this bill, known as HB 2468 , passed in the house.

“Philadelphians have made it abundantly clear that they demand more transportation options in the city. UberX gives residents and visitors the safe, reliable and affordable ride they deserve,” an Uber representative said via email.

Paul Strand retrospective at Philadelphia Museum of Art earns praise

A retrospective of the work of modernist photographer Paul Strand wows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Drawing on the Philadelphia museum’s sizable Paul Strand Collection (most of it acquired since 2010), the show of some 250 prints takes in the full sweep of his career and some three-quarters of the 20th century. It includes film excerpts and a generous sampling of his photo books, projects that feed back into the early photographs and reveal longstanding interests in duration and narrative.

Bringing modernism down to earth, Strand branched out from Manhattan’s parks and skyscrapers to Maine forests, Mexican churches and small villages in Italy and New England. The immense but well-paced show makes room for mentors and influences beyond Stieglitz, among them the fin de siècle Parisian photographer Eugène Atget, the Italian neo-realist screenwriter Cesare Zavattini and the American social documentarian Lewis Hine (one of Strand’s teachers at the Ethical Culture School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan).

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here

Spanish dancer Ángel Corella makes Pennsylvania Ballet debut

Ángel Corella makes his much anticipated debut as artistic director at the Pennsylvania Ballet. The New York Times headed south to Philadelphia to check it out.

In July, the star Spanish dancer Ángel Corella — a principal for many years with American Ballet Theater — was appointed artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet. On Oct. 16, the company began to perform under his direction, at its main home, the Philadelphia Academy of Musichere, one of America’s most beautiful opera houses; posters have been hanging in downtown Philadelphia with a picture of his face (lightly bearded) to advertise the opening program, “Press Play: The Directorial Debut of Angel Corella.” I attended the Saturday matinee...

Pennsylvania Ballet was founded in 1963 (its first artistic director, Barbara Weisberger, was in Saturday’s audience), and has one of the longest records for performing Balanchine outside New York. (It first danced “Allegro Brillante,” this program’s opener, in 1965.) There were some last-minute cast changes on Saturday, and yet the ballet most affected by substitutions, Mr. Ratmansky’s “Jeu de Cartes” (which joined the Pennsylvania repertory three years ago) was, with “Allegro,” ebullient, with dancers seizing its many opportunities with enthusiasm and glee. Beatrice Jona Affron, the company’s music director and conductor, produced especially fine orchestral playing; there were also excellent contributions from the pianist Martha Koeneman.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis takes over

Philadelphia Little League star Mo'ne Davis can't be stopped. She's starring a Spike Lee-helmed commercial and gracing the pages of Teen Vogue. From Time:

The World Series is upon us, but 13-year-old Little League superstar Mo’ne Davis is still the most talked-about player in baseball. Director Spike Lee teamed up with Chevrolet to create a commercial featuring the young pitcher, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated this year after becoming the first girl in history to throw a shutout during the Little League World Series.

In the ad, Davis reads an open letter to America: “I throw 70 miles per hour. That’s throwing like a girl,” she says.

And check out this amazing Teen Vogue image via Jezebel.

Philly restaurant earns "million dollar review" from Times of London critic

Times of London restaurant critic Giles Coren came to Philadelphia to film his TV show, Million Dollar Critic, for Canada's WNetwork. The winner of his five-restaurant showdown was one of this editor's personal favorites, Kanella. (Best brunch in the city.)

"Kanella is the sort of place I wish I could review every week: a buzzing local taverna on a lively city corner, people of all ages and ethnicities sitting at outside tables, simply decorated inside, full of laughter, friends and family, and charming staff serving a cuisine rooted deeply in a foreign culture rather than just ripping it off, with a deadly serious chef at the helm."

Original source: Foobooz
Read the complete story (and check out a clip) here.

Stunning 1698 PA Colonial showcased in the New York Times

A gorgeous historic Pennsylvania estate in Upper Gwynedd is for sale.

This stone-and-timber house is at the end of a long tree-lined driveway, on almost 19 acres of open pasture and woodland. Deeded as a farm by William Penn in the late 17th century, the property is surrounded by nearly 280 acres of open space belonging to a trust. Inside the preserve are ponds, wetlands and meadows lush with wildflowers. The Green Ribbon Trail, which runs along Wissahickon Creek, winds south all the way to northwest Philadelphia. Upper Gwynedd is a quiet, semirural township about 30 miles from downtown Philadelphia. A stop on Septa, the region’s rail system, is a few minutes away by car...

The oldest section of the three-story main house was built around 1698. Renovations and expansions followed over the years, with the last round of updates in 2012. Original and period features include random-width hardwood floors, exposed ceiling beams, hinges, handles and other hardware throughout, as well as six fireplaces with wooden mantels. The light fixtures mimic wall sconces.

Original source: The New York Times
Check out the slideshow here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.

Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia's Reading Terminal named one of the country's great public spaces

Philadelphia's legendary Reading Terminal Market has been named one of the "Great Public Spaces" in the nation by the American Planning Association.

World-renowned as an enclosed public market, Reading Terminal Market is conveniently located in downtown Philadelphia. The market is situated in a complex of buildings formally known as the Reading Terminal Train Station, occupying the basement and ground floor of the building underneath the old train shed. The market is organized in grid system spanning 78,000 square feet (1.7 acres) and is home to 76 independent small merchants. All of the merchants are locally based, selling fresh foods, groceries, prepared meals, and merchandise. The market is easily accessible to residents and tourists via public transit facilities, including nearby rail stations, seven subway and trolley lines, bus stops, a Greyhound bus terminal, and over 50 bike racks on the perimeter sidewalks...

Over 6 million people visit the market each year, generating upwards of $50 million in annual sales. Because the vendor businesses are 100 percent locally owned, the market's revenues are recycled within the Philadelphia region. The majority of patrons live in the Philadelphia region, and tourists make up about one-quarter of the shoppers.

Original source: American Planning Association
Read the complete list here.

Philly's Springboard Collective, warriors against the 'summer slide,' featured in New York Times

This awesome Philadelphia ed startup earns praise in the New York Times.

Last summer was the second one Tayonna Taylor, an incoming second-grader, spent working with a reading tutor: her mother. Tayonna, who wears glasses and had the sniffles, sat with her mother, Tasia Carlton, in late July in Emily Roggie’s classroom in Wissahickon Charter School in northwest Philadelphia...

[Alejandro] Gac-Artigas founded Springboard in 2011, when he was just 22. He was teaching first grade with Teach for America, horrified by the summer slide. That summer he set up a four-teacher pilot with 42 children and their families. By the end of the summer, the children had gained 2.8 months in reading.

This past summer, Springboard worked with 1,200 students in 20 schools — public, charter and parochial — in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. In Philadelphia, Springboard is the only summer learning program the school district pays for. Springboard trains teachers for the summer program, and has now started to help them coach parents to help their children during the school year. The full cost of the summer program is about $900 per child, including the teacher’s salary, which is paid by the school.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia to host Forbes' '30 under 30'

In October, the City of Brotherly Love will host a major event for young entrepreneurs. 

Philadelphia will play host to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30″ summit in mid-October, not only a brain-storming session by those who’ve made it, but a springboard for those who want to.

From October 19th to the 22nd, the Convention Center will host a who’s-who list of millenial entrepreneurs, inventors, celebrities and more than a thousand others looking to make their big mark. Randall Lane of Forbes says attendees will get a chance to grab for the gold ring.

“We’re calling it the $400,000 pressure cooker,” Lane says, “where we’re going to have a pitch contest on stage in front of a thousand people, and the winner take all, winner gets $150,000 in investment and a quarter-million dollars in prizes, and we promised Mayor Nutter that one Philly entrepreneur gets a fast track to the finals.”
Lane says Philadelphia is abuzz with millenial energy.

“Based on what we’re seeing you’re doing great,” he says. “Stats we’ve seen show the rise in millenials in Philadelphia is outpacing the rest of the nation.”

Original source: CBS
Read the complete story here.

Philly physicist, Allentown saxophonist and Pittsburgh poet among this year's MacArthur 'geniuses'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

David Lynch, doughnuts and Philadelphia

Honoring the first major retrospective of David Lynch’s work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with fried dough.

Trippy dream sequences. Doppelgängers. Laura Dern. One associates them all with the fun-house mirror maze of a David Lynch project. But doughnuts? From Special Agent Dale Cooper’s insatiable sweet tooth on “Twin Peaks” to the metaphor Lynch uses in the 2012 documentary “Meditation, Creativity, Peace” (“Transcendental Meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this doughnut”), sugary fried rings have popped up throughout the filmmaker’s cabalistic canon. And so, Michael Solomonov, the chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, jumped at the invite to make confections in honor of the first major retrospective of Lynch’s work, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (where Lynch studied painting in the late ’60s). With names like Blue Velvet and Good Coffee — a “Twin Peaks” reference — Solomonov’s creations are an homage to the master of magical realist cinema.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Taney's miracle run ends in Williamsport

Pennsylvania fell in love with the Taney Dragons, and loved them even through defeat in the Little League World Series. We weren't alone.

This was my first Little League World Series, and the two-week event was defined by two great story lines: Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl from Philadelphia who struck out the boys, and an exciting team from the South Side of Chicago that validated Major League Baseball’s urban initiative and held the promise of a widening pipeline of young players from urban areas.

“We saw teams that we haven’t see around here before,” said Mike Mussina, a former Baltimore Orioles and Yankees pitcher. “To see them come here and succeed and do well — people loved them. People grab a hold of whatever the thing is and this year, they were the thing.”

The Times'
 Frank Bruni also took the time to reflect on Mo'ne and the Dragons:

It was here, at the Little League World Series, that Mo’ne Davis captured the country’s hearts. A 13-year-old wunderkind from Philadelphia, she was believed to be the first black girl to play in the series. She was definitely the first girl ever to pitch a shutout. She landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, exploded stereotypes about women and sports and did it with a poise and grace that most people twice or even four times her age struggle to muster.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

UPenn specialist talks bringing back the dead

University of Pennsylvania doc David Casarett pens 'Shocked,' an examination of the science of resuscitation. 

The great highway of life is a one-way road, but that never stopped anyone from ignoring the traffic signs and trying to drive back up the offramps.

Efforts to revive the dead began longer ago than you might think, as Dr. David Casarett outlines in “Shocked,” his comprehensive review of the fascinating science of resuscitation. He suggests that the honors for best early performance go to the citizens of Amsterdam, who in 1767 formed a Society in Favor of Drowned Persons to save the many residents of that city pulled in extremis from the canals...

A specialist in end-of-life care at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Casarett has produced a travelogue about as comprehensive as possible without actually dying. He visits Amsterdam and London, and explores the heart’s electrical conduction system by climbing around the gigantic walk-through model of a heart in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. In a series of labs and zoos, he inspects hibernating squirrels, hypothermic dogs and frogs that can freeze, all possible physiological models for a yet-to-be-perfected state of “suspended animation” for humans.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philly Little League star Mo'ne Davis snags the cover of Sports Illustrated

Taney Dragons star Mo'ne Davis continues her global takeover, nabbing the coveted cover of 'Sports Illustrated.' (Check out Keystone Edge's top five reasons to head to Williamsport.)

Original source: Sports Illustrated

Historic property where George Washington camped up for sale

A 9-acre property where George Washington and his troops are said to have camped during the Revolutionary War is available for $14 million.

The property is located on Lewis Lane in Whitpain Township, about 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It includes a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house built in 1913 but extensively renovated and restored, according to owner Steven Korman, founder of Korman Communities, a Pennsylvania-based developer of hotels and apartments. Mr. Korman said he added about 9,000 square feet to the original 5,000-square-foot house, incorporating a century-old stone wall that had been in the garden and adding modern touches like a movie theater, gym, wine cellar, saltwater pool and elevator. Between buying the house and the renovation, he said he spent about $13 million. The house is being sold fully furnished.

Washington's troops camped in the Lewis Lane area in 1777 after the Battle of Germantown, on their way to Valley Forge, according to Marie Goldkamp, president of the Historical Society of Whitpain.

A self-described "history buff," Mr. Korman said the history of the property, which had been owned by the same family from the 1700s until Mr. Korman bought it more than four years ago, was "a huge thing for me." He added that one room in the house displays his collection of letters written by U.S. presidents, including Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. These aren't included in the sale price.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia eatery named No. 2 new restaurant in the country

High Street on Market, in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood, was named the number two new restaurant on Bon Appetit's highly anticipated national list.

I dare anyone who has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon (without a doctor’s note) to eat at High Street on Market and still call himself gluten-intolerant. You don’t stand a chance. Know why? Because chef Eli Kulp basically built this restaurant around head baker Alex Bois’s superstar bread program.

Let’s start with the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Forager: seared king oyster mushrooms, braised kale, fried egg, Swiss cheese, and black trumpet mushroom mayo piled on one of Bois’s cloudlike kaiser rolls. Hell, put a tofu burger and vegan “cheese” on one of those things and I would still—greedily!—order it again. The black squid-ink bialy stuffed with smoked whitefish may sound questionable, but I promise it will be something you crave for weeks afterward.

Abstinence won’t be any easier at lunch. The “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” served on house-made roasted potato bread, delivers on its inflated claim. And no dinner here would be complete without more of Bois’s signature loaves: levain with vegetable ash, anadama miche (made with molasses and cracked corn), and buckwheat cherry, to name a few. If, at this point, you are wondering if the No. 2 restaurant on this year’s list got here on its dough alone, the answer is -- unequivocally and emphatically -- a very carby yes.

Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.

Exercise equipment arrives at Philadelphia International Airport

As Flying Kite witnessed on a recent trip out west, Philadelphia International Airport is now home to exercise equipment for antsy travelers. When we walked through, many of the stationary bikes were occupied.

Sitting on an exercise bike in Terminal D on a recent morning, Ms. Donofree was cycling at a leisurely pace, wearing jeans and checking her phone as jets taxied outside.

Without becoming sweaty, changing her clothes or paying fees to an airport gym, she was able to exercise while remaining near her departure gate, thanks to a set of newly installed workout machines.

In late June, the airport became the first in the United States to provide three types of low-impact stationary bikes for travelers to use in the terminal, free of charge, while waiting for their flights.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

PA's RJ Metrics moves into larger space, extolls lean startup principles in New York Times

Robert J. Moore, founder and CEO of Philadelphia's RJ Metrics, wrote about his company's move to a bigger office on the New York Times' 'You're the Boss' blog, reflecting on lean startup principles. 

We had learned years ago that company culture isn’t about perks. Ping-Pong tables, funny posters, and free lunches are outputs of culture, not inputs to it. If any of our team members ever say they work at RJMetrics because of the chairs, I should be fired.
I admire those bigger companies that have been true to their lean roots during periods of extreme growth. Amazon famously provided employees with desks made of old doors, even as its headcount grew into the hundreds. To this day, Wal-Mart has its traveling executives sleep two to a room at budget hotels.

Just like the perks, however, these lean-minded policies are only healthy if they are the outputs of culture, not inputs meant to shape it. A team that is aligned on a core mission and values will wear them as a badge of honor. A team that isn’t will go work somewhere else.

As we grow, the balancing act of “lean success” will only get more complex. After all, being lean is not the same as being cheap, and separating these two can be hard when you’re in uncharted territory. We will invest heavily in building an inspired and empowered team – but we will check our egos at the door. Easier said than done? Definitely.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pennsylvania team cruises into Little League World Series

Behind the arm of phenom Mo'Ne Davis, Philadelphia's Little League team triumphed; they're heading to the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

It’s a truism in baseball that, in the postseason, the team with the best pitching usually wins. So it was on Sunday in Bristol, Conn., when Mo’Ne Davis hurled a three-hitter to lead Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League of Philadelphia past Newark National Little League of Delaware, 8-0. The win secured a spot for Davis’s squad, representing the Mid-Atlantic Region, in the Little League World series. That tournament starts Thursday, and Davis will have a chance to win it all in her home state, as it will be played in Williamsport, Pa.?..

She became the 18th girl to appear in the LLWS, joining Emma March, whose South Vancouver squad won the right to represent Canada on the same day.

Davis and March will become the third pair of girls in the same LLWS since the tournament began admitting girls in 1974. In addition to being the 40th anniversary of that change in policy, it is also the 75th anniversary of the tournament.

Original source: The Washington Post
Read the complete story here.

T Magazine shines a light on food halls, including Philly's legendary Reading Terminal Market

Food halls -- like the wildly-popular Eataly in New York -- are a growing trend. Philadelphia's own Reading Terminal is undergoing a renaissance.

After a $3.6 million renovation to this historic indoor market in a former train station last year, its longtime merchants, including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, have returned. The 80 vendors include 34 restaurants. Post-renovation newcomers include Wursthaus Schmitz, a German grocery and sausage stand that serves sandwiches ($9-11); the Head Nut, which offers spices, teas, nuts and candy; and the Tubby Olive, a gourmet olive oil ($16-31 a bottle) and vinegar shop.?

Original source: T Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Eat Philadelphia's best "secret menu items"

Zagat has put together a list of Philadelphia's best off-menu items. We're especially drooling over the pork pastrami sandwich at Fitler Dining Room:

Chef Rob Marzinsky has been doing intense sandwich research for the just-introduced daily 5-7 p.m. happy hour at this Fitler Square American bistro, and this dish is one of the happy consequences. After a four-day brine, pork shoulder is rubbed with pastrami spice, dried and cold-smoked for eight hours. Slices are served on a house-baked semolina roll with bread and butter pickles, spicy cabbage slaw, Gulden’s mustard and melted Birchrun Hills Fat Cat cheese.?

Original source: Zagat
Read the complete list here.

University of Pennsylvania wins contract to treat memory deficits

The University of Pennsylvania was one of two institutions to win a Department of Defense contract to develop brain implants for memory deficits.

Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain...

“A decade ago, only a handful of centers had the expertise to perform such real-time experiments in the context of first-rate surgery,” said Michael Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of one of the new contracts granted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. “Today, there are dozens of them, and more on the way; this area is suddenly hot.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

President Obama steps in to halt transit strike

President Obama ordered an emergency mediation process, halting the SEPTA transit strike in southeastern PA.

The Presidential Emergency Board will now beginning hearing arguments from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions representing about 400 electrical workers and engineers. The unions want a compensation plan similar to what bus drivers agreed to a few years ago, but the agency hasn't met their demand, they say.

The workers went on strike after midnight Saturday, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, soon requested that Obama intervene.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the governor of any affected state may ask the president to appoint an emergency mediation panel to settle a union's dispute with publicly funded commuter rail services. Obama recently created such a board to help with a labor battle at the Long Island Rail Road, and employees have about a month left in the process before they may strike. 

Original source: The Los Angeles Time
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner killed in plane crash

Lewis Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. 

At the last minute on Saturday, Lewis Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, invited Anne Leeds, a longtime friend and neighbor from Longport, N.J., to accompany him and two others on a quick day trip to Concord, Mass. They were going up to help support a nonprofit education effort.

The day before, Mr. Katz had also invited Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Such spur-of-the-moment invitations from Mr. Katz were common, a function of his access to a jet and his spontaneous personality.

While Mr. Rendell could not make the trip, Ms. Leeds could, and she was ready to go within a couple of hours.
But on the way home on Saturday night, the trip ended in disaster when the plane exploded in a fireball in suburban Boston. Everyone on board — four passengers, two pilots and one cabin attendant — was killed.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; or click here for the Inquirer's reporting.

Adaptimmune to develop early-stage cancer drug with GlaxoSmithKline

Adaptimmune, a local company Keystone Edge has covered in the past, has reached a $350 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical giant with a presence in the Navy Yard, to develop new cancer treatments.

Founded in 2008, Adaptimmune, which is privately held, is developing cancer treatments designed to strengthen a patient’s white blood cells. The company’s research arm is based in Oxford, England, and its clinical operations are based in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune could receive more than $350 million in payments from Glaxo over the next seven years. It would receive additional payments if Glaxo exercised all of its options under the deal and if certain milestones were met.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Executive director also departs Pennsylvania Ballet, following artistic director

The executive director of the Pennsylvania Ballet has followed the artistic director out the door.

It’s all change at Pennsylvania Ballet. Just two weeks after the announcement that its artistic director, Roy Kaiser, would leave the company once a successor was found, the troupe has announced that its executive director, Michael Scolamiero, will also depart. He will take up the same position at Miami City Ballet...

The Pennsylvania Ballet has appointed an interim executive director, David Gray, who has held executive director positions at a number of cultural institutions (and is the husband of the former New York City Ballet principal Kyra Nichols). Mr. Gray will work alongside Mr. Scolamiero until he leaves at the end of June. “Now that our 50th Anniversary Season is winding down, it seems like an appropriate time for change,” Mr. Scolamiero said in a statement, closely echoing Mr. Kaiser’s comment on his own departure.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The Los Angeles Times examines Philly's innovative blight management strategies

The Los Angeles Times covers our city's latest creative strategies for combatting neighborhood decay.

After decades of ignoring the blight that has spread through its neighborhoods, Philadelphia is trying to reclaim its vacant homes through aggressive initiatives designed to compel negligent owners to fix their properties or see them seized and torn down.

In just a few short years, the city has made impressive progress; experts say some of the tools used in Philadelphia may help other post-industrial cities coping with decades-long population decline and the neglected space left behind.?..

The door and window ordinance allows community groups to take over dilapidated properties and repair them. Another will establish a land bank for the city so it can begin to redistribute abandoned properties to people and groups who want to build something new.

Neighborhoods where the new strategies have been applied have seen home prices rise 31% over four years, compared with a 1% rise in comparable areas, according to a study by Ira Goldstein of the Reinvestment Fund. The initiatives increased home values by $74 million throughout Philadelphia, Goldstein said, and brought in $2.2 million more in transfer tax receipts.

Original source: The Los Angeles Times
Read the complete story here.

Raves for the Pennsylvania Ballet's triple bill

A Director’s Choice triple bill marks a time of transition for the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In its resident choreographer, Matthew Neenan, it has one of the freshest and most remarkable American ballet choreographers based outside New York. Another American, Trey McIntyre, made a world premiere that was the most remarkable feature of this triple bill. How will the company change under its next director?

...In this final solo, which is in waltz tempo, [Alexander] Peters never loses his energy or openness; but the directions and dynamics he takes contradict themselves, compellingly. This way? That way. Left? Right. Jump? Walk. At the end, center stage, facing us, he raises one arm. Then, keeping it aloft, he takes his other hand, and slowly brings it down that raised arm, then down and across his torso until it hangs by his side; both arms now make a single vertical line, and his head and torso tip sideways. It’s a weirdly eloquent image (not without sensuousness), suggesting that he is helplessly caught by an impulse larger than he is. This is his fate; he presents it to us, frankly, even sensuously. Marvelous dancer; compelling solo.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia schools face new round of cuts

Budget issues continue to inflict pain on Philadelphia's public schools.

A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.

The superintendent of schools, William R. Hite Jr., said the 131,000-student district would not have the money it needed to maintain existing levels of education that he said were already "wholly insufficient" after a $304-million budget cut at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district, which has had chronic budget problems, laid off some 3,800 employees as a result of that cut. Although about a quarter of those employees were rehired as some funding was restored, about 2,350 jobs could be eliminated next year unless the district finds funding to bridge its new shortfall, Dr. Hite said...

The district is also looking to the private sector for financial help, but corporate or individual gifts tend to be for specific projects, not recurring revenue, he said. The district’s sale of some two dozen vacant school buildings is expected to raise $25 million by June 30, said the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew E. Stanski.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet is stepping down

After 35 years, Roy Kaiser is stepping down as the artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In a news release Mr. Kaiser, 56, said that he felt that the end of the company’s 50th season was the right time to “transition the Company over to a new artistic leadership.” A search committee has begun to look for a new director, and Mr. Kaiser will continue in his post until a candidate is chosen. A company spokeswoman said that the board hoped to name the new director in the fall. Mr. Kaiser will remain associated with the troupe as artistic director emeritus.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Slate dubs PA 'the most linguistically rich state in the country'

A writer for Slate investigates our state's status as a "regional dialect hotbed nonpareil."
A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here.

The New York Times shines a light on Comcast's David Cohen

David Cohen, former chief of staff to Mayor Ed Rendell (and star of Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City), is taking a leading role at Comcast. The New York Times profiled this behind-the-scenes institution.

Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between.

"Whatever the issue is, David learns more about it than anyone, and he can keep it all in his head," Mr. Rendell says. "With me, he knew all about municipal pensions, and he knew about picking up trash — I mean the actual routes of the garbage trucks." 

...Mr. Cohen oversees Comcast’s robust lobbying operation and sets the strategies to shepherd its acquisitions past antitrust questions and other regulatory concerns. It’s a big job — and one that would fully occupy almost anyone else — because Comcast’s appetite for expansion is large, and it needs to be fed with a frequency that some find alarming...

Mr. Cohen has, as well, gotten into the weeds of Comcast’s cable and broadband customer service — a fraught subject since surveys have consistently shown that the industry in general, and Comcast in particular, are held in low regard by consumers. He has even gone on talk radio shows in Philadelphia to take calls from customers, a duty that few executives at his pay grade — Mr. Cohen pulled in just short of $30 million in compensation over the last two years — would seek.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Applications up 14 percent at the University of Pennsylvania

An increasing number of students aspire to a Penn education -- the Philadelphia university saw its applications rise 14 percent.

It’s not really a popularity contest, but among the Ivies, is anything not competitive? Applications to the University of Pennsylvaniarose by more than 14 percent this year and fell by as much at Dartmouth...As for the upsurge at Penn, the dean of admissions, Eric J. Furda, credits outreach to community-based organizations, like a new partnership with KIPP Public Charter Schools. More low-income students applied: Penn received 7,000 requests for application fee waivers, up from 4,000 last year. Several popular Penn MOOCs are also raising its profile: "An admissions office simply cannot budget that reach," Mr. Furda says.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center in Philadelphia, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade. Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times

UPenn veterinary oncologists learn about human breast cancer from dogs

An innovative program at the University of Pennsylvania looks at mammary cancer in dogs to better understand breast cancer in humans.

Because dogs typically have 10 mammary glands and often develop tumors in several glands at the same time, they present a unique research opportunity, enabling scientists to study lesions that are at different stages of development — from benign to cancerous, and at transitional stages — all in the same animal.

“The dog gives us the potential to answer the question: When did something go wrong at the molecular level?” said Dr. Karin Sorenmo, chief of medical oncology at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, who founded the Penn Vet canine mammary tumor program in 2009. “We can also study the benign tumors and ask: What’s different in that one tumor that doesn’t change and become malignant versus another one that does change?”

This field of research, called comparative oncology, is used to improve the understanding of the biology of cancer and to fine-tune treatment for humans. In the process, shelter dogs get access to treatment.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Layover Lift: The Free Library opens outpost at the airport

Bored travelers now have an exciting new distraction -- the Free Library has come to Philadelphia International airport.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently opened an outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport in the form of a book-themed lounge with free Wi-Fi access to the library’s digital catalog.

Passengers are encouraged to relax in the reading room, in the concourse between the D and E terminals, and download books or author podcasts from the library’s collection of nearly 30,000 titles.

"We brought our high-speed line out to the airport in that little area. That Internet connectivity is extraordinarily robust, it matches what we have in the library," said Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library.

The idea was inspired in part by an especially snowy winter, she said.

"We were having extensive blizzards here in Philadelphia, and we knew that there were thousands of people camping in the airport," Ms. Reardon said. "We thought, 'What if we put a library in?'"

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter twinkles his toes onstage with the Pennsylvania Ballet

Mayor Nutter hit the stage with the Pennsylvania Ballet playing -- you guessed it -- a mayor. Check out the video here.

Original source: Philly.com

PA restaurants make OpenTable's 'Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants' list

Three PA eateries made OpenTable's list of the country's "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants."

The Butcher and the Rye, a Pittsburgh restaurant owned by Richard DeShantz, has made  a list of 100 hippest restaurants in the United States as picked by users of OpenTable reservation and review website.

Butcher and the Rye is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh and one of only three in Pennsylvania to receive the OpenTable 2014 Diners' Choice Award. The others in Pennsylvania are Cafe Fresco in Harrisburg and El Vez in Philadelphia.

The Butcher and the Rye opened in the fall of 2013 at 212 6th St. in downtown Pittsburgh. The restaurant is on the site of another former restaurant, Palate. It is owned by DeShantz, who also owns the downtown restaurant Meat and Potatoes. It features contempory American cuisine and was recently awarded a Yahoo Travel list  as one of the best new bars in the U.S.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
Read the complete list here.

Private money boosts scientific research in PA and across the country

According to a long feature in The New York Times, billionaire philanthropists are having an increasing impact on scientific research, in Pennsylvania and beyond.

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise...They have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space....

Many of their efforts are rooted deep in personal or family trauma. Sometimes, by sheer force of genetics and demographics, that impulse may risk widening historical racial inequalities in health care and disease research, disparities that decades of studies have shown to contribute to higher rates of disease and death among blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups....

Ovarian cancer strikes and kills white women more often than minority women. In 2012, after his sister-in-law died of the disease at age 44, Jonathan D. Gray, the head of global real estate at the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm, gave the University of Pennsylvania $25 million to set up a center to study female cancers.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Hotels move into historic buildings: it's happening here, too

Hotels are moving away from cookie-cutter locations and towards unique historic buildings that showcase character and creativity to guests.

Reuse and recycle are taking on new meaning for hotels.

The Lamb’s Theater, a longtime fixture on West 44th Street inside the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, is now the luxury Chatwal Hotel. In Philadelphia, the previously empty Lafayette Building near Independence Hall opened in 2012 as the Hotel Monaco. In New Orleans, new life is being breathed into the Cotton Exchange Hotel off Bourbon Street.

As the hotel industry shakes off recession doldrums and new hotels are being built, the once-standard chain hotel has a sibling, hotels repurposed from existing buildings like offices, warehouses and hospitals.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

A loving ode to the Philadelphia regional accent

A wonderful piece in The New York Times' Sunday Review looked at the Philadelphia region's unique accent.

"The Philadelphia regional accent remains arguably the most distinctive, and least imitable, accent in North America. Let’s not argue about this. Ask anyone to do a Lawn Guyland accent or a charming Southern drawl and that person will approximate it. Same goes for a Texas twang or New Orleans yat, a Valley Girl totally omigod. Philly-South Jersey patois is a bit harder: No vowel escapes diphthongery, no hard consonant is safe from a mid-palate dent. Extra syllables pile up so as to avoid inconvenient tongue contact or mouth closure. If you forget to listen closely, the Philadelphia, or Filelfia, accent may sound like mumbled Mandarin without the tonal shifts....

Da prom here, we might say as we order our cheesteaks, is we don’ ave enuff akkers hew are willen to masser da Filelfia acksin. Nonsense. Offhand, I can name two native sons, Bruce Willis (Salem County, N.J.) and Kevin Bacon (Center City Philadelphia), who, at least in interviews early in their career, before accent reduction training kicked in, let their diphthong freak flags fly. And Upper Darby, Pa., native Tina Fey’s shout-outs and occasional youzes are encouraging, as are stories of her singing “You Light Up My Life” in full Brotherly Love voice ('Yew loight up moy loif')."

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Two PA eateries make Alan Richman's best of 2014 list

Esteemed GQ food critic Alan Richman has released his list of the 25 best restaurants for 2014 -- two Philly spots made the list, Avance and Pizzeria Vetri.

Not everyone is going to appreciate Pizzeria Vetri for the reasons I do, but then I’m a fussy guy when it comes to pizza crust. To summarize: I’m no fan of the famous pies of Naples, the city considered the bastion of pizza, where every Italian will tell you to go for pizza even if his family runs a pizzeria in his own home town. The problem is that true Neapolitan pies come out of the oven with soft, puffy crusts that turn soggy in seconds.

Chef Marc Vetri, famous for a fine-dining restaurant named after him, has created a neo-Neapolitan crust. It looks Neapolitan. It tastes Neapolitan. But it’s fundamentally different, as though he did DNA research on pizza and eliminated the gene that turns the crust wet. It’s the newest step forward in the evolution of the great American pizza crust, this one light and supple but retaining a smidgeon of crispness.

Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

Mormon Church tackles Philly development projects

The Mormon Church has announced big development plans in Philadelphia's Logan Square neighborhood.

The development on the 1600 block of Vine Street, which is the northern border of Philadelphia’s downtown area, would consist of a 32-story tower containing 258 apartments, as well as 13 rental townhomes and the 24,000-square-foot meeting house where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would worship and hold community events.

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, the project is planned for the block next to a Mormon temple that is already under construction and due to be completed in 2016.

While the temple will be reserved for major religious ceremonies, in keeping with Mormon tradition, the new meeting house will include a chapel for regular services, meeting rooms and classrooms for community and recreational events, officials said in announcing the project on Feb. 12.

Alan Greenberger, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, said the temple and the planned Mormon housing and retail complex — which would be built on a parking lot — occupy two “unspoken for” blocks between the business district and the northern section of the city.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Comcast makes a move to buy Time-Warner Cable

Comcast makes another big move, making a play for Time Warner Cable.

Already the dominant player in providing pay television services to American consumers, Comcast announced on Thursday a deal to buy Time Warner Cable, which will create a behemoth that will dominate the media industry.

It is the second transformative deal for Comcast in recent years, coming just months after it completed an acquisition of NBC Universal, the TV and movie studio. And the deal, if completed, could have impacts on consumers across the country, though it is unlikely to reduce competition in many markets.

Describing the deal as “a friendly, stock-for-stock transaction,” Comcast will acquire 100 percent of Time Warner Cable’s 284.9 million shares outstanding, in a deal worth about $45.2 billion in stock value.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Figure skater Johnny Weir talks Sochi with Philadelphia Magazine

Fashion icon and figure skater Johnny Weir -- who is helping call the events in Sochi -- took the time to talk with Philadelphia Magazine.

Before this year, I thought Sochi was a kind of Japanese ice cream. Where is it, exactly?
Sochi is a beautiful resort town that was made famous by Stalin and the elite from the Soviet Party. It’s on the Black Sea. When I tell people I’m going to Russia, they say, “Oh my God, you’re going to freeze to death.” First of all, I have furs. But second of all, Sochi enjoys a really temperate climate.

Now that you’ve retired and reigning Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek has dropped out, I have no idea who is competing. The people most likely to be on that medal stand?
You’re looking at Canadian Patrick Chan. He’s the reigning world champion going into this Olympics, and he’s skating very well. He set world records last year and then had them beaten by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who I believe is 18 [ed: 19, but close enough] and is just a phenom. I actually designed his costume for the free program.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete interview here.

PA filmmaker tackles 'Kids for Cash' scandal

Luzerne County's Robert May has made documentary about the area's notorious "Kids for Cash" controversy. 

Robert May's powerful and chilling documentary, Kids for Cash, traces the epic misdeeds of a pair of judges in Luzerne County that resulted in almost 3,000 convictions - juveniles sent to detention centers in handcuffs and shackles, often for years, for committing what one disbelieving observer would later term "typical adolescent misbehavior."

What was in it for Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, the Wilkes-Barre judges at the heart of the scandal? Well, it was that "extra judicial compensation" - $2.6 million in what the judges termed a "finder's fee," for getting a privately owned juvenile detention center up and running in the county. The fact that a sizable percentage of the youths who came before Ciavarella between 2000 and 2007 were sent to the center he and Conahan helped build seemed like a quid pro quo. When the revelations exploded in January 2009, the media pegged it the "Kids for Cash" affair.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

New York Times takes note of new Comcast tower

The big Comcast tower news got Philadelphia some national press, including in the New York Times.

The influx of young technology employees to a building designed by a prestigious international architect is likely to encourage boosters of a city that has long harbored an inferiority complex because it lacks either the financial power of New York or the political clout of Washington.

“This new development really speaks to a more favorable outlook for the city,” said [Michael Silverman, managing director in the Philadelphia office of Integra Realty Resources].

The $1.2 billion building will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, adding $2.75 billion to the local economy, according to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who announced the project, along with Comcast officials, on Jan. 15.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

A 31-mile run, just like Rocky Balboa's

A 'Fat Ass' run stemming from a Philly Mag blog post -- plotting Rocky's run from the film Rocky II -- took place a couple weeks ago, and earned some national press from the Wall Street Journal.

The run through distal parts of the city seems almost impossible, even for someone as tough as Rocky.

Enter the ultra-running movement to show it is possible. Nearly four decades after the first Rocky movie, a group of runners set out Saturday to re-create Rocky's training run—all 31 miles of it, the equivalent of 50 kilometers...

Before sunrise Saturday, about 150 runners huddled in the cold near the South Philly house that Rocky moves into with his bride, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. This is where he starts his training run, hoping to beat Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

Many runners were decked out in old-school gray sweats and red headbands like the ones Rocky wore. Phil Yurkon of Scranton, Pa., wore boxing gloves and had "Lithuanian Stallion" written on the back of his sweatshirt, a play on Rocky's "Italian Stallion" nickname and a homage to Mr. Yurkon's ancestry. The 32-year-old hadn't run more than 17 miles before this run; he heard about the Rocky run the day before and decided to try it.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
Read the complete story here.

UPenn psychologist's book: To be likable, get others to talk about themselves

Fast Company thinks University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant's organizational psychology book Give and Take is among the best of the year.
Small talk gets gruesome, especially when we're crutching along asking so, what do you do? The research of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman helps us circumvent that weirdness, as people's evaluations of themselves get primed by the questions you ask.
Original source: Fast Company
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German-themed Christmas villages in Philly, Baltimore, spread joy

The Washington Post writes about the wonder of German-inspired Christmas villages in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Both villages center on a compact collection of twee timber huts the color of gingerbread, with white lights icing the edges. In Philadelphia, the elfin structures occupied by more than 60 retailers encircle the 38-foot-tall Christmas tree in Love Park. The Baltimore venue sits on the lip of the harbor, within earshot of the trumpet blare of the ferry. A few of the 42 vendors brave the outdoors, including a purveyor of South American woolens, a mulled wine stand and a Nepalese shop of felt objects. But most are tucked inside a big-top tent illuminated by a Milky Way of lights.
Original source: Washington Post
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'Something of a miracle' in UPenn's nanotechnology center

Businessweek reports on the $92 million Krishna P.Singh Center for Nanotechnology,the University of Pennsylvania's latest architectural jewel.
The building unfolds its full radiance in the lobby, called the galleria, which extends as a gathering space around the courtyard and opens upward full height. The exterior undulations shape this narrow atrium into a sculpture of window walls and suspended ceiling planes that cross over and under each other like slightly bent legs.
Original source: Businessweek
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Penn co-authored study finds a key to successful startups

Two management professors from the University of Pennsylvania co-authored a study that revealed tech-focused founders lead to more successful startups, reports Phys.org.
The research revealed that a technically focused team can more quickly reach market milestones, from design and prototype completion – all the way to product launch. On the other hand, more diverse founding teams are better prepared to compete against mature companies, which similarly have well-established diverse skills in areas like marketing, operations, sales, engineering and other skills.
Original source: Phys.org
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Philadelphia-based Monell center's 'electronic nose' aims to find if ovarian cancer has a smell

The Monell Chemical Senses Center and a team including University of Pennsylvania scientists are using an electronic nose to determine whether ovarian cancer has a smell, reports The New York Times.
Discovering earlier and better markers for all kinds of cancer, especially in blood, is a priority, said Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer already has a blood test that has turned out to be not as useful as hoped — giving out both false positives and negatives. A smell-based test would need to perform better.
Original source: The New York Times
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Eagles on top of NFC East, clean energy

BusinessWeek writes about the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles and the team's innovative use of alternative energy and power distribution at its stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.
The stadium’s current power capacity pushes up to the limit for “customer-generators,” or small producers, in Pennsylvania. More solar panels would trigger different regulations, Smolenski said. In particular, the stadium could no longer participate in so-called net-metering, which allows small producers to sell power back into the grid. It would instead belong to a category of power producers that must participate in wholesale electricity markets, according to an NRG Energy spokesperson.
Original source: Business Week
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The joie de vivre of Will Stokes' painted world in Philadelphia

Artist Will Stokes is a fixture at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, and with good reason.
Others have written (notably in the catalogue for his 2007 solo show) about how Willie has retained a remarkable singularity of vision, despite decades of exposure and interaction with the numerous artist-in-residence alumni from FWM. His early work from the 1970s is of-a-piece with what he continues to do today. Throughout, Willie has starred in his own pictures, becoming a kind of self-made celebrity denizen of his painted world. Looking at photographs of Willie through the years, you can track his sartorial evolution, which carries over into the paintings. “The Kid,” his alter ego, is Willie at his most dapper and daring. The moniker elevates him to the status of the single-name musicians he depicts—Prince, Madonna, Beyoncé—while evoking a slew of popular references reaching as far back as the Charlie Chaplin film of the same name, up through songs like War’s “The Cisco Kid.” It also connotes a character with a bit of playful rakishness, which peeks from beneath Willie’s even-keeled exterior now and again.
Original source: Title Magazine
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How Philadelphia sustainability pioneer Judy Wicks mixes food, fun and social activism

Christian Science Monitor profiles pioneering, sustainability-focused entrepreneur and restaurauter Judy Wicks.
In the early days of the White Dog Cafe, located in the downstairs of Wicks’ Victorian brownstone, she couldn’t afford to build a commercial kitchen or hire a chef. She cooked the restaurant’s meals in her own kitchen while she watched her young son and daughter, and customers tromped upstairs to use the family’s bathroom. Eventually the restaurant filled three row houses, a companion retail store filled two more, and her businesses were grossing $5 million annually.
Original source: Christian Science Monitor
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Philly's Greensgrow model for CSA's financial success

GreenSource profiles the highly successful Philadelphia-based nonprofit CSA Greensgrow.
Mary Seton Corboy didn't expect much help when in 1998 she found an acre of toxic brownfield in Kensington, a dodgy neighborhood in Philadelphia, to start her business. Yet she was able to acquire a $47,000 loan, and Greensgrow Farm was launched. Before the farm even opened, Corboy secured a handful of chef friends at Philadelphia restaurants as clients to buy her hydroponically grown lettuce and tomatoes. First year, the farm grossed $5,000; the next year, $50,000. Today, Greensgrow—a nonprofit organization—brings in receipts totaling over $1 million annually. 
Original source: Greensource
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Philadelphia among top 10 U.S. locations to land a biotech job

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News culled data from five employment websites to identify the top 10 U.s. regions in which to land a biotech job.
Greater Philadelphia enjoys proximity to the heritage pharma giants that arose in the region and Pennsylvania’s neighbors to the south (Delaware) and north (New Jersey). But the region has also jumpstarted numerous biotechs over the past generation, both through the University City Science Center and, more recently, as spinouts from its universities, research institutes, and research hospitals. Among priorities for the region is attracting and retaining top talent; executive search firm Klein Hersh International held its latest Philly BioBreak invitation-only event for life sciences executives on October 15. “Our goal is to bring together the key players in the industry, many of which are locally based, and develop partnerships and strategies that will keep these great minds in the area,” says Martin Lehr, co-host of Philly BioBreak, which says it has 1,300 members.
Original source: Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News
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Domestic oil production keeps Philadelphia shipbuilding afloat

Philadelphia shipbuilding is alive and well thanks in large part to domestic oil production and century-old laws keeping U.S.-built vessels carrying goods between U.S. ports, reports CNBC.
When it launches, the Liberty Bay will be able to deliver 33 million gallons of oil from Alaska's North Slope to refineries on the West Coast in a single trip. SeaRiver Maritime, Exxon Mobil's marine affiliate, has commissioned the two ships. At a cost of $200 million each, the tankers represent a significant investment that will help boost Philadelphia's economy.
According to the Department of Transportation, 15 tankers are on order or under construction at shipyards across the country, with options for many more. It's the biggest boom the industry has seen in 20 years.
Original source: CNBC
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Ben Franklin's new 'home' brings icon's history into 21st century

The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia gets a major update that offers a modern learning experience, reports The New York Times.
Dr. Talbott and Cynthia MacLeod, the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, of which the museum is a part, say they believe Franklin would love modern Philadelphia and its residents as well. He would no doubt be rooting for the bedraggled Phillies and Eagles and holding court at its many sidewalk cafes.
“He is a man worth having a museum for. He was unusual in so many ways,” said Ms. MacLeod. 
Original source: The New York Times
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Pennsylvania Rx: What the Founding Fathers might say about Obamacare

The Atlantic relates early American healthcare modeling, much of which happened in Pennsylvania, to the current state of Obamacare.
Still, it’s hard to say whether this Founding Father would have advocated for publicly-funded healthcare at a scale beyond that of a single local hospital. Rather than providing a solid indicator as to what Franklin would have thought about Obamacare, the story of the Pennsylvania Hospital’s founding actually shows why it’s so difficult to guess what any of these men would have thought about modern health policy.
Original source: The Atlantic
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NYT reviews 'Modern Art and the Metropolis' at Philadelphia Museum of Art

The New York Times reviews French painter Fernand Leger's exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Leger: Modern Artand the Metropolis."
Organized by Anna Vallye, a postdoctoral curatorial fellow in the museum’s department of modern and contemporary art, this show takes a memorably broad approach to a narrow slice of Léger’s art. It concentrates on the decade after 1918, when Léger, returning to Paris after World War I, was most enamored of and energized by the city’s modernity — manifest in everything from street life to architecture to advertising, and most of all machines.
Original source: The New York Times
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Only 4 in 10 Wharton undergrads want kids

Forbes writes about Wharton management professor Stewart D. Friedman's book Baby Bust that examines undergrads' shrinking desire to have children.
In 1992, 78% of departing members of the 1992 undergraduate class at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania expressed plans to have children, according to his research. By 2012, only 42% did. Interestingly, the percentages for men and women were similar. “Millennial men and women are opting out of parenthood in equal proportions,” he notes.
Original source: Forbes
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CEO swap: Philly's SEER and Seattle's Moz trade bosses

Two friends on opposite coasts traded their CEO posts and learned more than they thought they would, reports Wired.

The leadership forces behind SEER Interactive and Moz broke records on the spectrum of innovation and collaboration for a week when they swapped work lives. That’s right, they assumed each other’s professional identities, emails, and lived in each other’s homes. They did not, however, swap wives or their Twitter accounts. Rand Fishkin is the CEO of Moz, a nine year-old venture-backed software startup headquartered in Seattle, Washington with offices in Portland, Oregon. Wil Reynolds is the CEO of SEER Interactive, an eleven year-old bootstrapped search marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with offices in San Diego. Each day, Reynolds walked from Fishkin’s apartment on Capitol Hill to Moz’s offices in downtown Seattle. Likewise, Fishkin walked from Reynolds’ home to SEER’s offices in a refurbished church in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia.
Original source: Wired
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Philadelphia healthcare firm puts curfew on employees' inbox with Zmail

Fast Company writes about Vynamic's email policy, which prohibits emails outside of work hours.
The policy, which the company dubs “zmail,” began after employees complained about stress in the annual engagement survey. Constant email contact played a role in that. Calista describes it this way: “You get an email. You’re trying to sleep. You happen to look at it right as you fall asleep, and next thing you know you’re up thinking about it. All it takes is that one.” And so the policy began: “Let it wait until the morning.”
Original soruce: Fast Company
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Only in Philadelphia: Old City's peculiar quality

The New York Times' Four Square Blocks feature takes a deep dive into Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood.
Today, Old City’s narrow brick buildings house an assortment of design and fashion boutiques, along with some remaining wholesalers of textiles and heavy-duty kitchen equipment. Factories are now condominium complexes with names like the Castings to acknowledge their manufacturing heritage.
And the floors? They, too, are a legacy of an industrial past. Mr. Aibel believes that his hundred-year-old building, where he installs exhibitions of American craft furniture, was once a tobacco warehouse in which water flowed down the incline and out the door. Similarly, at the 1875 petticoat factory that is now the home of Roche Bobois, slanted floors are said to have helped workers move goods and equipment around.
Original source: The New York Times
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That new baby smell: Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center gets infantile

The New York Times reports on a study of how new mothers process the smell of their newborns.
Johan Lundström, a biologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and a study author, believes that women’s brains are hardwired this way to provide an evolutionary incentive. “We think that this is part of a mechanism to focus the mother’s attention toward the baby,” he said.  “When you interact with the baby, you feel rewarded.” A similar process may apply to men as well, Dr. Lundström said, though he lacks the data to prove it.
Original source: The New York Times
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More on the great Graphene Frontiers of UPenn

Last week we posted news about University of Pennsylvania startup Graphene Frontiers, which is pioneering the use of a "super material" that could revolutionize the digital world. This week it's GigaOm's turn to spread the news.
In 2010, it cost tens of thousands of dollars to manufacture a piece of graphene smaller than a postage stamp. Since then, laborious methods like splintering off slices of graphene from graphite — the stuff that makes up pencil lead — or synthesizing it in a furnace at ultra-high temperatures have given way to room-temperature, large-scale methods that promise to be much cheaper.
Graphene Frontiers’ big contribution is that its method works at normal pressure, negating the need to make graphene in a vacuum.
“Where we’re headed is making meter-wide sheets,” Patterson said. ”We’re (already) making bigger pieces big enough to cover an iPad. What roll-to-roll means is we’ll be able to produce large rolls of graphene … and that will drive the cost down to pennies per square inch. That’s where it becomes really interesting for all of these applications.”
Original source: GigaOm
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DreamIt Health expands to Baltimore with Johns Hopkins University partnership

Philadelphia startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures' healthcare-focused arm, DreamIt Health, is expanding into Baltimore with a new partnership with Johns Hopkins University and BioHealth Innovation, reports MobiHealthNews.
Christy Wyskiel, advisor to the president at Johns Hopkins, said the school was enthusiastic, especially because DreamIt Health’s Philadelphia class worked with Penn Medicine, which is connected to the University of Pennsylvania. In Baltimore, Hopkins will provide resources not just from the medical school and medical center, but also from the business school, engineering school, and school of public health. Wyskiel said President Ronald Daniels has been pushing involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation as a priority for the school in general.
Original source: MobiHealthNews
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Can Philadelphia land bank reverse blight by transforming 40,000 abandoned properties?

The New York Times checks in on the progress of Philadelphia establishing a land bank for its 40,000 abandoned properties as City Council readies to vote on the issue.
“There are new tools to allow government to acquire tax-delinquent properties without putting them out on the market to the highest bidder,” said Rick Sauer, executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, which is helping to lead the land-bank initiative.
To keep property from speculators who might sit on it for years without improving it, he said, the land bank would insist that buyers were current on taxes, had no history of code violations and had the resources to make promised changes.
Original source: The New York Times
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Another heaping helping of Philadelphia's food renaissance

The Guardian is the latest to take a tour of Philadelphia's food and restaurant renaissance. Businesses like Fork jump-started the area's renaissance. 
Many of us who grew up in Philadelphia remember the Old City of the not-too-distant past, when derelict buildings formed a coal necklace around the city's historical gems. 
But Fork – a light-filled, amber enclave with high ceilings and an open kitchen – changed how Philadelphians dined when it opened in 1997. It is doing so again, with a new chef, Eli Kulp, who is currently cooking some of the city's most fascinating food.
Original source: The Guardian
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Now you can take Wharton MBA classes online for free

The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is the latest institution to offer courses online for free via online learning platform Coursera.
While you won’t get the full Wharton on-campus experience—or an internship, career services, or alumni network, for that matter—the new courses in financial accounting, marketing, and corporate finance duplicate much of what you would learn during your first year at the elite business school, says Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton.
Original source: BusinessWeek
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Philadelphia No. 7, Pittsburgh No. 24 on 25 Most Pedestrian Oriented and Walkable Cities list.

List 25 puts Philadelphia at No. 7 and Pittsburgh at No. 24 on its Most Pedestrian Oriented and Walkable Citiest list.
With five of its neighborhoods ranking really high on walkability and biking scores, Philadelphia ranks among the top five most walkable large cities in the US. They have really good walk paths and with the number of restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the city, one can walk pass four shops in five minutes on average.
Original source: List 25
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Shared Prosperity, a Philadelphia poverty program geared towards transparency, gains national attent

The New York Times reports on Shared Prosperity, which offers "one-stop shopping" for poor Philadelphians seeking services and hopes to create jobs and improve early childhood education.
But with an array of public and private agencies providing different services in different locations, many poor people here are not getting the assistance available to them that could help them find work or qualify for benefits.
In response, Philadelphia initiated an effort this summer that offers "one-stop shopping" in local outreach centers to help people get all the assistance they need — with food, housing, job training, financial counseling, child care and other services — in one place.
The effort, called Shared Prosperity, is a response to the recent growth in the number of poor people, many of whom are not benefiting from the city’s current economic recovery, said Eva Gladstein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, which runs the program.
Original source: The New York Times
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Why not? Philly cheerleading in Wall Street Journal

The founder of Philadelphia-based social media marketing company Curalate, Apu Gupta, writes in the Wall Street Journal about how he answers the question: Why Philly?

We’ve grown from three people in May 2012 to 24 now without lowering our hiring bar. While the sheer volume of qualified people is greater in both SF and NYC, the competition for those people is also tremendous. In Philly, we stand out. We’re surrounded by excellent universities and continue to attract folks who have the chops to make it at a startup. We also find the hires we make tend to be more loyal and aren’t jumping to be a part of the next shiny new thing.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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A close-up look at Philadelphia's untapped tech talent

Technorati talks to serial entrepreneur Rick Gorman about Philadelphia's untapped market of technology talent.

Gorman is the new kind of entrepreneur, brand builder, known best for creating niche services in rapid growth markets. It's the lean startup model, that he uses, which is allowing him and others to compete with Silicon Valley from anywhere. Gorman explains it best saying, "Philadelphia is a hub of untapped talent--there’s a shortage of good tech companies in the area and a plethora of great people."

Source: Technorati
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New campaign aims to attract more LGBT travlers to Philadelphia

The New York Times' In Transit blog writes about a new campaign video devoted to promoting Philadelphia as an ideal travel destination for the LGBT community.

The new video builds on the city’s memorable 2003 “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” campaign by showing the flamboyant female impersonator Miss Richfield 1981 touring some of Philadelphia’s best-known sites, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Original source: The New York Times
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Lego lessons: How the company became (and remained) a toy giant

Entrepreneur takes a look at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor David Robertson's new book "Brick by Brick," which tells the story of Lego and the company's many twists of fate.
Innovation doesn't just happen at the product level. Too often companies focus all of their innovation efforts on their products. As was the case with Lego, this can result in looking too far afield. When Lego reversed all the damage it did in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was by looking for areas of improvement across the entire company. "Most people talk about innovation on the product side," says Robertson. "If you accept that innovation isn't just in product development -- it can be in sales, finance, marketing -- now you have lots of different opportunities."
Original source: Entrepreneur
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Philadelphia's Mt. Airy among best big-city neighborhoods

CNN Money includes diverse Mt. Airy in Philadelphia among its list of best big-city neighborhoods.
Mount Airy pairs a racially and religiously diverse population with a neighborhood packed with historic homes and leafy streets.
Germantown Avenue, which divides East and West Mount Airy, is the backbone of the nabe and home to shops, art centers, and restaurants. Houses here start at about $200,000, roughly 30% lower than in neighboring Chestnut Hill (though you can easily pay $500,000 in the tonier parts of West Mount Airy).
Original source: CNN Money
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Inside Fishtown, Philadelphia's Rust Belt neighborhood

The Atlantic Cities spends time getting to know Fishtown, Philadelphia, and its post-industrial revival.
Fishtown, Philadelphia, got its name during the early 19th century, when neighborhood families dominated the booming shad runs of the Delaware River estuary. The fishery collapsed under the pressures of overfishing and pollution, and the area turned to other modes of making and manufacturing: shipyards, lumber, textiles. Eventually Fishtown fell into blight, its industrial buildings vacated and boarded up. But recently a new generation of industrious residents is has turned to urban farming of a sort, growing everything from community gardens to local writers, the latter by way of a modern-day farmers' almanac.
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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CSA's leap from ag to art evident in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

The New York Times catches on to the community supported art movement in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
“It’s kind of like Christmas in the middle of July,” said Ms. Johnstone, who had just gone through her bag to see what her $350 share had bought. The answer was a Surrealistic aluminum sculpture (of a pig’s jawbone, by William Kofmehl III), a print (a deadpan image appropriated from a lawn-care book, by Kim Beck) and a ceramic piece (partly about slavery, by Alexi Morrissey).
Original source: The New York Times
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Drexel and UPenn researchers make important brain discoveries

Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania led a groundbreaking study that identifies grid cells in human brains that map movement, reports The New York Times.
Joshua Jacobs of Drexel University in Philadelphia and a team of scientists including Michael J. Kahana at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Itzhak Fried at U.C.L.A. and Tel-Aviv University, reported in Nature Neuroscience on Sunday that signals from electrodes implanted in human patients with severe epilepsy proved the presence of grid cells that function in the same way as those found in other mammals.
“It completes the picture,” said Edvard I. Moser of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, one of the discoverers of grid cells. “It’s a significant contribution.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Schuylkill River Trail among country's best for urban bike paths

USA Today's list of 12 best urban bike paths includes Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail.
Called the best bike path in Philly by Philadelphia Weekly, the 23-mile Schuylkill River Trail is a boon to commuters entering the city from Montgomery County, residents looking for a scenic shortcut through parts of downtown, and recreational cyclists making a weekend escape. The path winds unbroken, except for two short segments, all the way to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Original source: USA Today
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Penn doctors examine the black-white divide in breast cancer outcomes

For years, scientists and doctors have puzzled over the disparity in outcomes between white and black breast cancer sufferers. A team at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a report on the subject.

The findings were striking. Over all, white women with breast cancer lived three years longer than black women. Of the women studied, nearly 70 percent of white women lived at least five years after diagnosis, while 56 percent of black women were still alive five years later. The difference is not explained by more aggressive cancers among black women. Instead, the researchers found a troubling pattern in which black women were less likely to receive a diagnosis when their cancer was at an early stage and most curable. In addition, a significant number of black women also receive lower-quality cancer care after diagnosis, although those differences do not explain the survival gap.

Original source: The New York Times
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Old-Fashioned First: Phiadelphia's Frankin Fountain earns No. 1 milkshake ranking

USA Today ranks the nation's 17 best milkshakes, and Philadelphia's old-timey treats wonderland Franklin Fountain earns the top spot.
1. Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia
With decorative tin walls and ceilings and the building's original porcelain mosaic tile floor, Franklin Fountain shows no signs that before its opening in 2004, the turn-of-the-century building had been a shop called Eroticakes selling evocative lollipops and baked goods. Today, the Berley brothers have turned it into an old-fashioned soda shop. Named for Benjamin Franklin who began his adult life just blocks away, the shop aims to exhibit "forgotten flavors of the American past," according to its website. Homemade Franklin Ice Cream was first served in 2006, and the shop has come a long way since the original Philadelphia vanilla bean flavor, offering 21 flavors every day like cherry vanilla, teaberry gum, and green tea, as well as seasonal sorbets, sugar-free flavors, non-dairy ice creams, and featured flavors. Any flavor can be made into a shake, like the Franklin mint chip shown here. A true example of American history and small business, The Franklin Fountain's homemade ice cream makes their shakes extra tasty.
Shake to Try: Franklin Mint Chip
Original source: USA Today
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Pitt, UPenn researchers talk fabrication of human livers

The New York Times talks to scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania regarding the use of human stem cells to create tiny human livers and grow them in live mice.
The approach makes sense, said Kenneth Zaret, a professor of cellular and developmental biology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research helped establish that blood and connective tissue cells promote dramatic liver growth early in development and help livers establish their own blood supply. On their own, without those other types of cells, liver cells do not develop or form organs.
“They were letting nature do its thing rather than trying to conceive of what the right signals might be,” Dr. Zaret said. But, he said, the mice were studied for only a couple of months. He would like to see what happens over a longer time.
Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia photographer documents urban decay

Philadelphia-based photographer Matthew Christopher's work on urban decay is featured in The Daily Mail.
"My favourite part of exploring ruins is that to me, it is peaceful. I can focus on what I am seeing and experiencing rather than being wrapped up in my thoughts all the time.
"Discovering new or intriguing places, finding something you know not many people have seen, or managing to get permission to somewhere you'd really like to see are also a lot of fun."
Original source: The Daily Mail
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Golf world's eyes on Ardmore, Mother Nature for U.S. Open

Heavy rains threatened the layout and play at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, reports USA Today.
The two most flood-prone holes are Nos. 11 and No. 12. Last week tropical storm Andrea dropped about 3½ inches of rain on the course. Rain continued Monday, and the Weather Channel forecast more rain for today and a 70% chance of thunderstorms Thursday.
Original source: USA Today
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In a very unscientific survey, Philadelphia is the capital of bacon

With its restaurants serving taco shells made of bacon and deep-fried oysters with bacon aioli, Philadelphia, also the hometown of actor Kevin Bacon, earned the title of No. 1 city for bacon lovers according to the Estately blog.
- Philly is the sixth largest bacon market in America.
- Three area restaurants have been featured on United States of Bacon.
- Local burger chain PYT made a taco shell out of bacon because this is Philadelphia and anything bacon is possible in Philadelphia.
- Dip your deep-fried oysters in bacon aioli at Cochon (French for “pig”).
- The father of modern Philadelphia was famed city planner Edmund Bacon, father of Kevin Bacon.
- Jake’s Sandwich Board is famed for its Turbacon, a sandwich version of a Turducken, but with smoked pork in place of duck.
Original source: Estately
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LGBT senior housing rises in Philadelphia's Center City

The Advocate reports on Philadelphia's first LGBT senior housing development, located in Philadelphia's Gayborhood section in Center City.
The six-story, 56-unit John C. Anderson Apartments is now rising in the heart of Philly’s gay village, with hopes of opening at the end of the year. Mayor Michael Nutter, along with Mark Segal — the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and founder of Gay Youth, one of the nation’s first organizations for LGBT teens — championed the $19.5 million project.
Original source: The Advocate
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Origami as a drug delivery device? UPenn researchers are working on it

A research team from the University of Pennsylvania received a grant recently to investigate origami as a tool for drug delivery, reports R&D Magazine.

Collaborating with researchers at Cornell Univ., the Penn team will share in a $2-million, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Div. of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation. The grant is through a program called ODISSEI, or Origami Design For The Integration Of Self-assembling Systems For Engineering Innovation.
The program draws inspiration from the Japanese art of paper folding, but the Penn team suggested adding a variant of the technique, known as kirigami, in which the paper can be cut as well as folded. Allowing for cuts and holes in the material makes it easier to fold rigid, three-dimensional structures.
Original source: R&D Magazine
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Kids in a candy store: Brothers turn historic Shane Confectionery into sweet retail space

Smithsonian Magazine writes about brothers Shane and Ryan Berley, who purchased and restored the oldest continuously operated candy store in the country, Shane Confectionery in Philadelphia.
Originally, Shane’s fed off the foot traffic of commuters ferried between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The traffic slowed to a toddle in 1926 with the opening of the Delaware River Bridge, later renamed for Ben Franklin. World War II sugar shortages and late 20th-century urban blight also swallowed up profits. By 2010 the third-floor workshop was in disarray, the antique machinery in disrepair, the chocolate empire nearing, well...meltdown.
Enter the Berleys, proprietors of the Franklin Fountain, a vintage ice-cream parlor a few doors down Market Street. The brothers bought in, boned up on the store’s history and embarked on a painstaking restoration. They ripped up the linoleum flooring to expose the original pine and bird’s-eye maple and repainted the woodwork in Long Gallery and Grand Staircase blue, shades nicked from the palette at Independence Hall.
Original source: Smithsonian Magazine
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See Amtrak's new 110mph trains running between Philadelphia and Harrisburg

The New York Times reports on Amtrak's new, modernized fleet of trains that will operate on the Northeast Corridor and Keystone routes.
The new locomotives will be on regular trains, not the railroad’s high-speed Acela line, which reaches top speeds of 150 m.p.h.
“The new Amtrak locomotives will help power the economic future of the Northeast region, provide more reliable and efficient service for passengers, and support the rebirth of rail manufacturing in America,” said Joseph H. Boardman, Amtrak’s president and chief executive.
Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia business intelligence startup RJMetrics raises $6M-plus

RJMetrics, a Philadelphia startup whose co-founder Bob Moore we recently profiled, had a big day this week when it announced a $6.25 million investment in the five year-old business intelligence startup from Trinity Ventures, reports TechCrunch.
The core RJMetrics product grew out of Moore’s own data analysis work (which has separately resulted in some great guest posts for TechCrunch, like this formative 2009 analysis of Twitter user behavior). The new funding round, which includes participation from existing investor SoftTech VC, will go towards sales and marketing. With the overall growth in the Saas BI industry, Moore says it’s time to focus on the ecommerce part of it.
Original source: TechCrunch
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Luring new teachers with new apartments in Philadelphia

The New York Times reports on a Philadelphia initiative that offers discounted, new apartments to would-be teachers in the hopes of attracting quality educators to the neighborhoods in which they will teach.
The idea of bringing educators together in an affordable, supportive housing complex is intended to make teaching in city public schools a more attractive option — particularly for those new to the profession — and to reduce the risks of burnout.
“It’s an especially hard job for young teachers who relocate from other cities and find themselves among tough students in poor neighborhoods,” said Greg Hill, a principal, along with Gabe Canuso, of D3 Real Estate Development, which is leading the $36 million project. “We’re creating a community of like-minded people.”
Original source: The New York Times
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Temple University research connects cannabis with HIV treatment

Wired UK reports on Temple University research that indicates that THC, the chemical and high-inducing compound found in marijuana, can weaken the most common strain of the HIV virus.
Pathologist Yuri Persidsky from Temple University, one of the study's authors, said: "The synthetic compounds we used in our study may show promise in helping the body fight HIV-1 infection. As compounds like these are improved further and made widely available, we will continue to explore their potential to fight other viral diseases that are notoriously difficult to treat."
Original source: Wired UK
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'Rocky' musical jabs Broadway

A legendary Philadelphia boxer sings his way to the big time -- The Rocky musical is heading to Broadway.

The show -- conceived by Sylvester Stallone, who wrote and starred in the original “Rocky” -- had its world premiere opening in Hamburg in November and received positive reviews from German theater critics for its gritty realism and inventively staged boxing sequences...

"The title has very high recognition, so I’m sure tourists will want to see it, but we wouldn’t bring it to New York if we didn’t think it would appeal to traditional theatergoers,” said Mr. Taylor, chief executive officer and producer of Stage Entertainment USA. “I’m aware that ‘Rocky’ might be perceived as an odd choice for a musical, and there will be some raised eyebrows, but I think what people see will not be what they are expecting."

Original source: The New York Times
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Shiny, happy Philly: City ranks 7th happiest for young professionals

The City of Brotherly Love is also a place for happiness, at least among young professionals. Philadelphia comes in at No. 7 on the list.

That’s according to CareerBliss.com, an online career site that just released its list of the 10 happiest cities for young professionals, based on analysis from more than 45,000 employee generated reviews between April 2012 and March 2013. Young professionals, defined by CareerBliss as employees with less than 10 years’ experience in a full-time position, were asked to evaluate ten factors that affect workplace happiness. Those include one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

Original source: Forbes.com
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Pong song: World's largest video game played on Philadelphia's Cira Centre

Ars Technica goes behind the scenes of the world's largest video game played right in Philly -- a traditional game of Pong displayed on Center City's CIra Centre building.

A crowd of well over 100 gathered near the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday, despite rising winds and the looming threat of a thunderstorm. We were all there to play (and to watch) Pong, but not on an arcade cabinet—the version we'd be playing would be played out on the programmable LED lights lining the side of Philadelphia's Cira Centre, a 29-story office building across the Schuylkill River from the museum. The lights, normally used to display static images or simple looping patterns, had been transformed into a fully interactive game of Pong by Drexel computer science professor (and Co-Founder and Co-Director of Drexel's game design program) Frank Lee and his team in just a few short months. It's being billed by the event organizers as the "world's largest video game."

Original source: Ars Technica
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UPenn prof's new book, The Anatomy of Violence, addresses seeds of aggression and tragedies like Bos

University of Pennsylvania professor and criminologist Adrian Raine tries to answer some difficult questions for Time magazine, including what plants seeds of violence that lead to tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings.
The question on everyone’s minds now is why…
Most mass killers have mixed motives, but more often than not there is a fundamental grievance, a score that needs to be settled with society. For [the older brother], the earlier questioning by the FBI and rejection of his application for US citizenship could have been a contributing factor that got wrapped up with political ideology and a dissatisfaction with his own life. But likely a complex combination of factors created this toxic mix – likely a biological predisposition to violence combined with social triggers and mild mental illness.
Original source: Time
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Philadelphia's East Passyunk Ave. named one of Food & Wine's best foodie streets

Food & Wine includes South Philadelphia's East Passyunk Avenue among its best streets for foodies.

Philadelphia’s East Passyunk Avenue has fantastic restaurants like the elegant Fond, a terrific vintage store and the place to go for delicious limoncello.
Original source: Food & Wine
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'Outsiders' take over Philadelphia Museum of Art

The New York Times shines a light on an exhibition of outsider art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art From the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection," celebrates the impending donation of the collection to the museum.
To a man, and a woman, the artists in the Bonovitz collection all made some form of magic whose power and urgency throw down a gauntlet, especially considering much of what passes for contemporary art these days. Sometimes they responded to their everyday surroundings. That’s the case with the shadowy drawings and angular constructions fashioned from soot, spit, string and cardboard with which Castle, who could neither hear nor speak, recorded the rough life on his family’s farm in rural Idaho. It’s also true of the sharp, prancing silhouettes with which Traylor expressed his amusement at the human comedy of African-American life in the South.
The show runs through June 9.
Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia's Dorm Room Fund expanding natinowide

First Round Capital's Dorm Room Fund, an investment fund helmed by Philadelphia college students, earns praise in the New York Times. Starting this spring, the Fund is going nationwide -- starting in New York.

New York City’s Dorm Room Fund will follow the model established in Philadelphia, Mr. Barnes said. Student investors will seek out promising ventures among their peers and present the most exciting projects to the investment team. Though partners from First Round Capital will offer advice, students will lead the decision-making process. First Round does retain a veto right, Mr. Barnes said, but “we would not use it unless we were legally or ethically required to do so.”
For more on the Dorm Room Fund, check out this story in Keystone Edge.

Original source: The New York Times
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A look at IBX's 10 promising startup investments

Information Week writes about the Philadelphia-based DreamIt Health acclerator, a collaboration of Independence Blue Cross, Penn Medicine and DreamIT Ventures.
Among the firms that made the final cut are AirCare, Biomeme, Fitly, Grand Round Table, Medlio, MemberRx, OnShift, Osmosis, SpeSo Health and Stat. Each company will receive $50,000 in seed capital, as well as intensive mentoring in a four-month "boot camp."
Original source: Information Week
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Yo! Why people are losing their Philly accent

The Atlantic Cities writes about a University of Pennsylvania professor's investigation of the changing dialect of dyed-in-the-wool Philadelphians.
Labov began studying the speech patterns of Philadelphians in the early 1970s with his students. Looking back over all the data and audio collected since then from hundreds of speakers in dozens of neighborhoods – all of it more recently parsed with automated acoustic analysis – Labov, Fruehwald and Ingrid Rosenfelder have documented a city changing its linguistic identity. Their paper, "One Hundred Years of Sound Change in Philadelphia," recently published in the journal Language, methodically tracks the speech of residents in the city born between 1888 and 1991.
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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TripAdvisor: PNC Park top ballpark in America

The Pirates have a long way to go, but Pittsburgh's PNC Park was named America's top ballpark by TripAdvisor. Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies, was No. 6 on the list.
1. PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Perched along the Allegheny River, this renowned ballpark features spectacular sights of the Steel City skyline and the beautiful Clemente Bridge. A unique two-level ballpark that opened in 2001, PNC provides an intimate setting and spectacular views and sightlines from anywhere in the stadium. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, "The views of the city from the ballpark are beautiful; great food and beer selections."
Original source: TripAdvisor
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Exploring the geography of class in Philadelphia

The Atlantic Cities uses U.S. Census data to explore the geography of class in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's class divide is pronounced. Its neighborhoods run the gamut from leafy townhouse enclaves to some of the country's most disadvantaged communities.
There are two major creative class clusters (purple areas on the map) in the city proper. The first is in and around the urban core in the Center City; the second is to the west in Chestnut Hill and Manayunk-Roxborough.
Original source: The Atlantic Cites
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Philly's Mario Lanza Institute among thriving shrines for local heroes

The New York Times explores Philadelphia's Mario Lanza Institute, an oft-overlooked Philadelphia-bred singer, and other small shrines to hometown heroes.
Bill Ronayne, president of the Mario Lanza Institute in Philadelphia, summed up the reason for such hometown tributes:
“It may seem odd to some people to have a museum to someone like Lanza, but I think we are obligated to remember those with talent.  They may not be Lincoln, but they affected us, so whatever I can do to keep Mario’s memory alive, I am happy to be associated with it.”
Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia International Airport lures New York-based travelers

PHL has become an attractive departure point for New Yorkers, drawn by the low prices and the presence of Southwest Airlines.

Airfares have been dropping faster in Philadelphia than in any other big city, fueling a boom in traffic at the congested airport there. Despite its reputation for delays and baggage difficulties, Philadelphia International is now attracting more passengers for domestic flights than any of New York's three major airports - La Guardia, Kennedy International or Newark Liberty International.

Transportation officials say they do not know how many of those travelers are being lured away by lower fares, but they concede that New Yorkers are not immune to what is known in the travel industry as the Southwest effect. When Southwest Airlines, the king of the low-fare carriers, arrives in a new city, it drives down airfares and adds traffic.

Original source: The New York Times
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Time to make another national list for Philadelphia's Federal Donuts

These days, if there's a donut list, local favorite Federal Donuts will earn a spot. This Saveur run-down of the country's 50 Best Donuts is no exception.

The donuts at this ambitious newcomer include the Appollonia, served hot and rolled in cocoa and orange blossom powder. The other specialty? Fried chicken.

Original sourceSaveur
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Philadelphia Flower Show's attendance continues to soar

The Washington Post's Adrian Higgins visited the Flower Show, PHS's big annual event, and came away impressed. (Check out sister publication Flying Kite's pics from the shindig here.)

Historically, big-city flower shows are like big cities themselves: They either change or decline but cannot stay the same. By all appearances, the Philadelphia show is in the midst of healthy change: Attendance climbed from 235,000 in 2010 to 270,000 last year and is on track to exceed 300,000 this year. The number of competitive entries in a feature called the horticultural court — the horticourt — is about 11,000, and the entrants’ enthusiasm has been rewarded with a new $1 million setting for the competitions that includes a fabric roof and new show benches and display backdrops.

Original source: The Washington Post
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Ardmore alt-craft brewer Tired Hands among most promising in U.S., says Food Republic

Tired Hands Brewing Company, which opened in 2012 in Ardmore, Montgomery County, continues to get attention, this time ranking No. 4 on Food Republic's 10 breweries to look out for in 2012.
It’s already been a big year for Ardmore, PA–based Tired Hands Brewing Company, named one of the top five best new brewers in 2012 by Rate Beer. The limited output makes this a worthy destination for their famed beer dinners, but look no further than their beer for innovative food use. Next on tap: Ancient Knovvledge, an Asian-inspired saison brewed with hemp seeds, nori, black and white sesame seeds, tangerine juice, Schezuan peppercorns and long red hot peppers.
Original source: Food Republic
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Philadelphia and Pittsburgh among top cities for VC in tech startups

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh rank ninth and 13th, respectively, in the National Venture Capital Association's list of top cities for venture capital investments in tech startups, reports Mashable.
"Venture capitalists will go to where the entrepreneurs are — and there is a great deal of startup activity outside of Silicon Valley," a NVCA spokesperson told Mashable. "Those regions with thriving VC ecosystems tend to have strong universities where technology is developed and research is completed and commercialized."

Original source: Mashable
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Zagat: Philly Fair Trade top local coffee roaster in Philadelphia

Zagat ranks the top 11 local coffee roasters in Philadelphia.
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
Joe Cesa has been small-batch roasting in Philadelphia since before you were even drinking coffee. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it was way back in 2002 that he launched fair trade cafe Joe’s Coffee Bar on the corner of 11th and Walnut. A few years ago, he gave up the cafe location and went into roasting full time.
His Feltonville facility produces beans served at over a dozen cafes and restaurants, and are available to purchase in another dozen retail locations, including a prime spot at the Headhouse farmers’ market. Order your own online - you can choose from more than 20 different regions and roasts.
Original source: Zagat
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Small batch bikes: A look at North Philadelphia custom bicycle maker's incredible world

North Philadelphia custom bicycle maker Bilenky Cycles Works is profiled in this video curated by A Continuous Lean.
Interestingly, the past few years have seen a resurgence in companies like Bilenky Cycles Works based on the same type of thinking from consumers: quality. There seems to be a critical mass of a certain type of consumer that is interested in quality and is willing to pay for it. Though, I have to admit, that the recent resurgence of small batch manufacturing has been mostly based on the same few categories of products like bicycles, small leather goods, jeans etc. I’m eager to see manufacturers take a leap and expand the circle to other types of products.
Original source: A Continuous Lean
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Philadelphia-area entrpreneur on Shark Tank again to promote company

A Philadelphia-area resident and 2002 graduate of Northeastern University has parlayed an appearance on the ABC reality TV show Shark Tank into a thriving entrepreneurial adventure, reports News @Northeastern.
Rescate’s entre­pre­neurial journey has taken many twists and turns. Newly mar­ried and fed up with her cat’s litter box stinking up her tiny Man­hattan apart­ment, she devel­oped a training kit that helps felines grad­u­ally tran­si­tion to using the toilet. She launched CitiKitty in 2005 with $20,000 in wed­ding gift money and per­sonal sav­ings; it has since reaped more than $4 mil­lion in sales.
Rescate pitched CitiKitty on Shark Tank in 2011 and secured a part­ner­ship with shark Kevin Har­rington, founder of TVGoods, Inc. and chairman of As Seen On TV, Inc. That suc­cess led her to meet Chris Hindley, the founder of HoodiePillow—a pillow with a stitched-??in hoodie and easily acces­sible spaces for a smart­phone and a pair of head­phones. Rec­og­nizing the product’s mass market poten­tial, Rescate part­nered with Hindley—a deci­sion that led her to dub her­self “a mini-shark”—and recently returned to Shark Tank to show­case the com­pany. (The episode was filmed in Sep­tember, aired last Friday, and can be viewed at ABC?.com.)
Original source: News @Northeastern
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New ways of visualizing crime in Philadelphia

Several area developers have repackaged a major municipal dataset published by the City of Philadelphia in December, providing new and interesting ways to visualize city crimes, reports The Atlantic Cities.
But the really impressive applications are coming from outside of City Hall. This is the PHL Crime Mapper, created by software developer David Walk. His tool enables users to draw a polygon around any area in the city. PHL Crime Mapper then maps crimes within that territory during a given time span (and spits out some relevant statistics):
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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Philadelphia's Locally.FM launches with app to connect merchants' events with customers in real-time

Philadelphia-based Locally.FM challenges location-based apps like foursquare, Yelp and Now with its app that connects merchants' events and activities with customers, reports Betakit.
Any consumer can use the browser-based mobile and web app app for free, but for merchants and vendors it is in closed beta, with plans to launch publicly in two weeks. CEO and co-founder Steve Palmer explained that the idea for the app came from the frustration of trying to find local events and things to do last-minute, and from getting to know winery owners through wine blogging, and realizing they wanted to use apps to attract people to their events. “It’s hard to find actual things that are happening. It’s pretty easy to find where a restaurant, park or museum is, you’re just not always able to find what’s going on at these particular venues,” he said.
Original source: Betakit
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Philly's CHOP and Pittsburgh's CHOP at UPMC rank first and, sixth, respectively, among nation's chil

Parents magazine ranks Children's Hospital of Philadelphia first and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC sixth in its list of the 10 Best Children's Hospitals in the U.S.
1. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
It's the leader in kids' cancer research. Besides using a successful treatment for the sickest leukemia patients that was developed by oncologist Stephan Grupp's, M.D., Ph.D., it has masterminded a way to wipe out certain types of neuroblastoma and lymphoma with a single pill. Researchers found that some kids have a genetic snafu in the expression of a protein that's linked to the diseases, and they worked with a drug company to develop medicine that inhibited the protein. Seven of eight kids studied with lymphoma, and one of two with neuroblastoma, are in remission. "Targeted therapies for children with cancer are a hot area of research," says John Maris M.D., director of the hospital's Center for Childhood Cancer Research. "Chemotherapy kills off healthy cells too, while our new treatments zero in on just the bad ones."
Original source: Parents Magazine
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Free Library of Philadelphia's pop-up Pride & Prejudice part of worldwide celebration

The Free Library of Philadelphia was among those across the globe that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice, reports The New York Times.
The Free Library of Philadelphia is hosting an all-day celebration including lectures, film screenings and “pop-up” theatrical performances of scenes from the novel. Goucher College in Baltimore, home to what it calls the largest Austen collection in North America, will open “Pride and Prejudice: A 200 Year Affair,” an exhibition of rare editions and other items documenting the novel’s reception over the past two centuries.
Original source: The New York Times
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UPenn-developed software, Swarthmore study tackle smartphone security

A Swarthmore College study and software developed by a team from the University of Pennsylvania are on the forefront of smartphone security developments, reports Fast Company.
Research into smartphone security has revealed that your phone's sensors could help criminals unlock your stolen gadget. And, given that these elements all come as standard on most smartphone models, and are not subject to the same controls as other phone functions, they are a bigger security risk. The study was carried out by a visiting professor at Swarthmore College, who analyzed data captured from a smartphone's accelerometer--that's the gadget that analyzes the direction your phone is tilting or moving and turns the screen accordingly, and used for games like Doodle Jump--and found it could be used to work out where someone tapped the screen.
Original source: Fast Company
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Lehigh students crash PennApps 2013 hackathon, create SparkTab

A team of Lehigh University students created SparkTab, a versatile browser add-on, at the PennApps 2013 hackathon last weekend, reports TechCrunch.
SparkTab is kind of like QuickSilver for your browser. Instead of setting your new tab page to, say, Google, you would add SparkTab. From the text entry bar, you can perform searches, send texts, and even post to Facebook and Twitter. Think of it as a quicker way to do lots of stuff online without having to enter a URL or click on search results.
Original source: TechCrunch
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How an 'odd duck' is reviving texile manufacturing and reimagining the urban factory in Philadelphia

Fast Company writes about self-proclaimed "odd duck" Karen Randal and her efforts to revive the textile industry and urban manufacturing in Philadelphia.
Yet there's a resurgence of passion for the idea of manufacturing in Philadelphia, if not manufacturing itself. Unlike New York, where most geographically desirable industrial districts have been rezoned residential, Philadelphia still has factories near the center of town, and the same cultural currents that have brought a taste for locally grown food into the American mainstream have lately buoyed the idea of making things around the corner rather than on the other side of the world.
Original source: Fast Company
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Philadelphia Mayor Nutter hires 24 year-old director of civic technology

TechPresident follows up on Philadelphia's new director of civic technology, 24 year-old Matt Wisniewski.
He has been part of the city government since January 2012, and served prior to that as the executive director of a nonprofit working to improve commerce in the business corridor of a low-income neighborhood. While working for the city, he was the project manager on development of a mobile application for the city's 311 non-emergency services system.
A handful of cities across the country are trying out the idea that Internet technology can dramatically change the way cities work. Philadelphia is one of them. In 2011, Philadelphia joined the first year of Code for America, a program to put technologists in city halls. The same year, Nutter issued an executive order that consolidated management of information technology across all city departments into one position, the chief information officer. In 2012, the city hired Mark Headd away from Code for America to become the city's chief data officer, and in December announced that the city would release detailed crime data, updated daily.
Original source: TechPresident
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Indy Hall among nation's coolest coworking spaces

We've been writing about Old City, Philadelphia coworking space Indy Hall since 2009 and now Business Insider ranks it among its 17 coolest coworking spaces in America.
Indy Hall is where you'll meet "the coworkers you've always wanted." The two-floor cozy communal office has broken down everything stuffy about the typical office and replace it with couches, colorful walls and beautiful modern artwork.
Original source: Business Insider
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NY Times does 36 hours in Philadelphia

They manage to work Stephen Starr into yet another lede about Philadelphia, but nonetheless The New York Times gets around Pennsylvania's largest city during a recent weekend.
There’s no secret handshake at Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (112 South 18th Street; 267-467-3277; thefranklinbar.com), a candlelit subterranean bar in the speakeasy style. Instead, there are cocktail waitresses as hospitable as they are stylish (cat-eye glasses and saddle shoes) and drinks poured over globes of hand-carved ice. The 28-cocktail list has poetic subheads (one reads: “I asked for water, she brought me gasoline”) and esoteric ingredients (Rollin’ in the Ruins is a mix of Tanqueray gin, Hayman’s Old Tom, green Chartreuse, pear brandy, lime juice, lemon grass tea syrup, Bitter Truth Thai Bitters and pink peppercorn tincture).
Original source: The New York Times
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Nature's force: Inside Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum Residency

Wallpaper sits down with artist Daniel Arsham, whos new show at the Fabric Workshop and Museum called Reach Ruin opens today in Philadelphia.

Part of the mission of the FWM is to encourage artists to work outside their preferred medium. I've never worked with a number of the materials in this exhibition, such as some of the resins we used. Some of the pieces involve wind, light and sound so I worked with an engineer from MIT to develop the performative work that you see in the video. I also worked with compressed glass; I have worked with this technique before where we compress sand and other materials into a mould, but the Fabric Workshop helped me develop this into a larger scale. So I have these massive 16ft-tall eroded columns, which wouldn't have been possible before.

Original source: Wallpaper
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Social clipper: Philly's SnipSnap 2.0 app gets a rebuild

TechCrunch reports on the big update for SnipSnap's coupon clipping app, which has been rebuilt from the groun up.

But first, the biggest change. SnipSnap 2.0 takes what social elements were present in the original and expands on them greatly — unlike before, new users are asked to create accounts and can link them with Facebook or Twitter to connect with other coupon-conscious friends. From there, those users can also select their interests from a list so SnipSnap can provide them with some starter coupons — apparently, new users of SnipSnap wouldn’t know what do once they installed the app, and the starter coupons were intended to help them a get a feel for using it. Smart.

Original source: TechCrunch
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Pennsylvania-driven research uses HIV to fight leukemia

An experimental treatment developed by University of Pennsylvania scientists and administered at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia uses a disabled form of the HIV virus to reprogram cancer cells, reports the New York Times.
The treatment very nearly killed her. But she emerged from it cancer-free, and about seven months later is still in complete remission. She is the first child and one of the first humans ever in whom new techniques have achieved a long-sought goal — giving a patient’s own immune system the lasting ability to fight cancer.
Emma had been ill with acute lymphoblastic leukemia since 2010, when she was 5, said her parents, Kari and Tom. She is their only child.
Original source: The New York Times
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Making modernity inside 125 year-old UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia is marking its 125th anniversary with an accessibility initiative that appeals to a wider audience.
“We want to harness the incredible intellectual wattage, and to find ways to translate it to a much wider appeal,” said its new director, Julian Siggers, in an interview. “I don’t think that first-rate research is incompatible with a wide public mandate.”
Dr. Siggers, who until July was vice president for programs, education and content communication at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, said he aims to triple the Penn Museum’s current number of visitors, about 250,000 a year, within 10 years, and to raise the appeal of its contents by highlighting their relevance to modern life.
Original source: The New York Times
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DreamIt partnership with IBC and Penn Medicine to create digital health accelerator

TechCrunch reports that DreamIt Ventures in Philadelphia is launching a four-month program with Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine to create Philly's first healthcare accelerator, seeding selected companies with up to $50,000 in capital.
Like other DreamIt programs, the health accelerator’s program will end in a Demo Day, at which all companies will present their businesses to an audience of investors and healthcare organizations. The advantage for entrepreneurs in working with DreamIt is that that the accelerator has already launched 80 companies over the last four years across its TechStars-like national network. The accelerator was founded in and runs a general accelerator in Philadelphia, where it’s currently incubating 15 companies.
Original source: TechCrunch
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Blackstone LaunchPad unites Temple, Phila U., Science Center for $3M entrepreneurship initiative

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation launched the $3 million Blackstone LaunchPad, establishing a partnership between Temple University, Philadelphia University and the University City Science Center to promote entrepreneurship, reports Temple University News.
The Pennsylvania Blackstone LaunchPad programs are expected to generate some 100 ventures and hundreds of jobs during the next five years.
“We at Temple want each and every student to be exposed to entrepreneurship as part of their personal and professional development and for it to become a central way of thinking throughout their lives,” Englert said.
Blackstone LaunchPad aims to multiply the connections among campuses, business communities and local entrepreneurs. It is open to all 41,000 students — regardless of major — at the two partner universities. Participants in the LaunchPad process establish a personal profile, complete a venture-assessment form, and receive individualized consultation and venture coaching. Jaine Lucas, executive director of the university-wide Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, based at the Fox School of Business, will serve in the same capacity at the Blackstone LaunchPad at Temple, expected to begin next semester.
Original source: Temple University News
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Saxonburg manufacturer II-VI Inc. to purchase Calif. thin-film filter facility in $27M deal

Saxonburg-based optical components manufacturer II-VI Inc. will purchase San Jose, Calif.-based Oclaro's thin-film filter facility in Santa Rosa, reports the Press-Democrat.
Among its products, II—VI manufactures optical components for industrial laser and thermal imaging systems and devices required for high-speed optical networks to increase Internet traffic. The company also makes infrared and visible light products for industrial, scientific, military and medical instruments.
Original source: Press-Democrat
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Running notes: A post-marathon ode to Philadelphia

Mary Elizabeth Williams writes in Salon about the Philadelphia Marathon and the city's effort in include as many runners as possible from the New York Marathon, which was cancelled because of Superstorm Sandy.
In retrospect, I should have expected nothing less from a city whose very name means brotherly love. Besides, I knew how much Philly could give. I’d gone to school there; I’d forged some of the best and most enduring relationships of my life there. I had returned, again and again over the years, to see my friends and to eat soft pretzels and to introduce my children to the city’s charms. Yet on Sunday, Philadelphia gave me – and nearly 1,500 other New York marathon runners – something new. It gave us welcome and warmth and refuge after one of the darkest experiences in the Big Apple’s history, just by letting us pound its streets.
Original source: Salon
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Viewing Philadelphia's industrial past from the rails

The New York Times Magazine takes a ride on Amtrak along the northeast corridor and surveys the ghosts of our industrial past.

As anyone who rides Amtrak between New York and Washington knows, the trip can be a dissonant experience. Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. There’s Newark and Trenton and the heroic wreckage in parts of Philadelphia, block after block of hulking edifices covered in graffiti, the boarded-up ghost neighborhoods of Baltimore made familiar by “The Wire” — all on the line that connects America’s financial center and its booming capital city.

Original source: The New York Times Magazine
Read the full story here.

A tattoo to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand

TechCrunch writer Drew Olanoff, a cancer survivor himself, is trying to raise funds for childhood cancer charity Alex's Lemonade Stand in suburban Philadelphia.
I turned 33 yesterday, an age that I wasn’t sure I’d hit when I was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve been in remission for three years and I feel great, except that others have to struggle way worse than I did. Before I was diagnosed, I raised money for childhood cancer by “auctioning off” space on my body for a tattoo. Not any tattoo, though, it was a Twitter handle for whomever donated the most. The high bid and donation was $2,112 and it was a success, and of course I got the tattoo. You can read all about it here if you like.
For Alex, and for children everywhere battling cancer, I’m doing it again. This time, the money goes right to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Even if you don’t want to hop into a battle for real-estate on my body in tattoo form, every little bit counts.
Original source: TechCrunch
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A chocolatey, celebrity collaboration in West Chester

West Chester master chocolatier Christopher Curtin is collaborating with chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain on a "sleek" new Peruvian chocolate bar, reports the New York Times
The bar, embedded with crushed nibs, is a collaboration with the chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain. In all his chocolates, Mr. Curtin starts with single-origin beans or a chocolate base, mostly around 70 percent dark, and adds flavorings and fillings like Aleppo pepper, shiraz wine, coffee and toasted corn. He just introduced bonbons filled with pumpkin and with gingerbread. You need a bib for his silky caramels.
Original source: The New York Times
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Young Visionaries: United By Blue's organic apparel and accessories

Entrepeneur's Young Visionaries series pays a visit to Philadelphia's United By Blue, an organic apparel and accessories company with a heavy social mission.
His vision provides for the removal of one pound of garbage from the nation's waterways through the sale of each item on the site. Each cleanup involves thousands of volunteers and has resulted in the removal of many thousands of pounds of garbage.
Original source: Entrepreneur
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Philadelphia's ScrubDaddy walks away with Shark Tank deal

Aaron Krause, who owns ScrubDaddy, maker of what is described as "high-end cleaning sponges," walked away from ABC TV show Shark Tank with a deal, reports Nerdles.
He needs $100,000 in exchange for 10% equity in his enterprise. He’s currently selling the product online and in 5 Philadelphia stores. His sales have already reached $100,000 in the past 4 months alone. Since Aaron owns a patent for Scrub Daddy, he is now venturing into manufacturing the product on a large scale. As such, he needs the funds to set up his own manufacturing facility as he anticipates an in increase in demand from other supermarkets
Original source: Nerdles
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Sniffing success: Yardley firm's technology delivers nasal meds more effectively

Medgadget writes about Yardley-bsed OptiNose and its bi-directional delivery technology that uses a patient's breath to dispense nasal medications.
As a matter of fact, a new study comparing the OptiNose powder delivery device against traditional liquid nasal sprays has shown that the Bi-Directional system deposits medication more effectively to the middle and upper posterior regions in the back of the nose. The study involved seven participants that inhaled radiolabeled medication using the two delivery methods, the deposition of which was then assessed using a gamma camera sensitive to the emitted radiation.
Original source: Medgadget
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Study: Counseling yielded more fruit consumption among African-American adults

Philadelphia-based American Association for Cancer Research released a study of more than 200 Philadelphia African-Americans who were being counseled on increasing produce consumption and exercise to reduce their risk of cancer or heart disease, reports the L.A. Times.
The fact that the participants were mostly poor, with incomes under $20,000, might mean they could not afford to join a gym or pay for exercise classes and might not feel safe walking or biking in their neighborhoods. She also said the researchers might ask about the fact that many fruits can be eaten as is while many vegetables are normally cooked – making it easier to eat fruit. And, Jefferson said, it’s hard to make more than one change at a time.
Original source: L.A. Times
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Eye chart: Philadelphia's Warby Parker in focus

CNBC talks with Philadelphia eyeware company co-CEO Neil Blumenthal.
"We're an early-stage company, 2 1/2 years in," Blumenthal said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
"We're just looking at the next step now. ... We're more focused on how can we get glasses to people as quickkly as possible," Blumenthal said.
Original source: CNBC
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Yeah, but how do they make money? Philly's DuckDuckGo among tech's biggest names

Mashable looks at how some of the biggest names in tech make money, including Philadelphia search challenger DuckDuckGo (which still isn't profitable).

As one might expect, advertising and paid subscriptions are two major sources of revenue for these companies. The Internet has also given rise to a phenomenon known as “freemium,” when a company provides a base service for free but charges fees for certain premium features. For instance, Dropbox offers 2GB of free cloud data storage. If a user wants more space, however, he or she will have to pay up.

Original source: Mashable
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UPenn researcher: Iran creating private internet

MIT's Technology Review reports on University of Pennsylvania-funded researcher Collin Anderson's findings that indicate Iran is building a private internet network.
Anderson gathered his evidence using two hosts based in Tehran. He has obviously had some significant help from inside Iran to carry out this work and acknowledges the help of a number of individuals he is unable name because of "self-censorship and intimidation" within Iran and beyond. That's clearly difficult and dangerous work that must be applauded.
Original source: MIT Technology Review
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Survey: Pennsylvania among nation's top digital states

Government Technology reports on the Center for Digital Government's Digital States Survey, which gave Pennsylvania an 'A-' putting it among the top-10.
Most states submitted responses to a series of survey questions, focusing on IT leadership, service delivery, citizen engagement, innovation and collaboration. For those states not submitting information, evaluators considered several factors, including interviews and various other interactions with CDG staff throughout the survey period.  Researchers, executives and senior fellows from the Center for Digital Government were involved in the comprehensive evaluation process that resulted in each state’s grade.
Original source: Government Technology
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High-tech duet sounds great in Philadelphia

A violinist in Philadelphia and a cellist in Illinois performed a duo in real-time thanks to new technology enabled by Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, reports NIU Today.
“Since Internet2’s inception, all across the world I have been asked by musicians, ‘Can we play together?’ and the answer has always been no,” said Ann Doyle, director of cultural collaborations for Internet2. “It is with gratitude to the LOLA project team, that the answer is now yes!”

Original source: NIU Today
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Philly's First Round Capital announces the $500,000 Dorm Room fund

Pando Daily likes the idea of the University of Pennsylvania as Stanford of the East, reporting on new UPenn neighbor First Round Capital's Dorm Room fund.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook were started on college campuses. The thinking goes that if students were smart enough to create these companies, then they are smart enough to identify peers with potential. First Round is taking applications for its batch of eight mini-VCs on the Penn and Drexel campuses. Once its initial investment team is picked, those members will choose their own replacements as they graduate.
They’ll be given $500,000 to invest in companies (around $15,000 each) over the course of the school year.
Original source: Pando Daily
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Katherine Gajewski on greening gritty Philly

Grist interviews Philadelphia's sustainability director, Katherine Gajewski, who has injected youthful energy into the city's green directives.
We have experienced tremendous support, considering our [Greenworks Philadelphia] plan came out right before the recession hit. I expected more departments to say “We’re focused on our core functions and can’t take anything new on. This does not fit with our priorities.” I haven’t had anyone say, “No. I’m unwilling to do that.” Our mayor has been a leader on this and he’s made it clear that it’s important. But I think it’s also just been an exciting and logical extension of the work a lot of folks are already doing.
Original source: Grist
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Stealth Philadelphia startup funded by YouTube and PayPal co-founders

Perceptual Networks hasn't yet fully divulged what it does but the Philadelphia-based startup has been funded by some heavy-hitters, reports Forbes.
Perceptual Networks is a company that… um… well, it’s a little bit hazy. On the upstart’s website, under the “products” category, the company states:
“We are building a suite of products that make it easier for you to make friends, fall in love, find the perfect career and find the perfect place to live. We do what matters most.”
Original source: Forbes
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HuffPo: Seven reasons to visit the new Philadelphia

No new ground is covered here but we agree in spirit with Huffington Post's assessment of Philadelphia's increasing "visit-ability."
Philly is still a restaurant town. In fact, I've made several trips by car from my home in Manhattan for the sole purpose of eating at Zahav in a nondescript building at the far edge of Society Hill. This Middle Eastern hot spot was justifiably named as the best restaurant in the city by Philadelphia magazine. The baked-to-order pita bread alone is worth the drive (why can't you get freshly baked pita bread any longer?), but everything else is authentically magical. Grilled octopus and drinks at the bar at Water Works Restaurant at dusk is another reason to get in the car (or on the plane). Better yet, get an outside table on this historic site overlooking the Schuylkill River, followed with a walk along the Schuylkill River Trail. If you're into beer, check out Monk's or the beer garden at Silk City.
Original source: Huffington Post
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UPenn researchers make breakthrough with all-optical photonic nanowire switch

The Engineer writes about University of Pennsylvania researchers whose recent breakthrough, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could lead to development of consumer photonics.
According to a statement, the research team’s innovation built upon its earlier research, which showed that the cadmium sulphide nanowires exhibited extremely strong light-matter coupling, making them efficient at light manipulation.
This quality is said to be crucial for the development of nanoscale photonic circuits, as existing mechanisms for controlling the flow of light are bulkier and require more energy than their electronic analogues.
Original source: The Engineer
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SEPTA's regenerative braking technology saving estimated 10 percent

Early estimates place SEPTA's power savings at about 10 percent thanks to the regenerative braking system it activated in June, reports Wired.
Currently, trains running along the Market-Frankford line use the same kind of braking technology found in most hybrid cars, converting kinetic energy from braking into electricity and sending it along the third rail to a massive array of more than 4,000 30 Ah nickel cobalt aluminum batteries. Otherwise, that energy would’ve been wasted as heat. By recapturing and reusing that energy, SEPTA estimates it could save up to $190,000 a year in energy costs, not to mention decreasing wear and tear on its trains’ braking systems.
Original source: Wired
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Wayne-based recruitment software maker Kenexa bought by IBM for $1.3B

IBM's purchase of Wayne-based Kenexa for $1.3 billion earlier in the week is a sign that valuations are rising for enterprise software businesses that include social elements, writes the New York Times.
Technology giants are paying hefty premiums to rapidly expand their social footprint. The Kenexa deal, for instance, comes on the heels of Microsoft’s billion-dollar deal for Yammer, the enterprise social network. That $1.2 billion acquisition, announced in June, was seen as Microsoft’s first big push into the market. And Salesforce.com recently purchased Buddy Media, the social media advertising business, for $698 million.
Kenexa will help the company bolster its current suite of social enterprise tools, a group that includes social networking and instant messaging solutions. Kenexa, based in Wayne, Pa., has 2,800 employees and about 8,900 customers. The company reported a profit of $1.9 million in 2011 on revenue of $282.9 million. Revenue was up 44 percent from the previous year.
Original source: The New York Times
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Has labor thrown rail improvements off track?

Bloomberg writes about labor's impact on rail efficiency, citing several situations in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has perhaps the most extensive U.S. regional rail network, and the wasted potential to go along with it. Its Center City Commuter Connection, which linked the terminal stations of the Pennsylvania and Reading railroads, allowed trains to run through the city without stopping to turn around, increasing capacity and bringing the system to the same level as express rapid-transit systems in Germany and France. Add in its totally electrified network, and the regional-rail infrastructure of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is the perfect candidate for an upgrade.

Original source: Bloomberg
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UArts graphic design prof's methods higlighted in film

Inge Druckrey, a beloved and highly respected graphic design professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, is the subject of a 38-minute film that highlights her work as an artist and instructor, reports Fast Company.
A particularly thoughtful sequence, one that brings to life Druckrey’s dictum about seeing wonderful things you never noticed, has her narrating a student’s attempt at developing a typeface. Severny lets the student’s capital letter R take up the whole screen, fading from one version to the next as Druckrey narrates the refinements taking place before our eyes. For those who don’t think much about type on a daily basis, it’s a two-minute crash course in "really learning to look" at letters, a glimpse into the interdependent system of angles, connections, and stroke weights that make some typefaces just feel right.
Original source: Fast Company
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Lower Merion, on Philadelphia's Main Line, among nation's top-earning towns

Ranking behind Bethesda, Md., Greenwich, Conn., Palo Alto, Calif., and Newport Beach, Calif., suburban Philadelphia's Lower Merion was among CNN Money's top-earning towns in the U.S.
Lower Merion got its start when railroad executives built massive summer homes here. Today, it's an elite suburb of Philadelphia and dotted with colleges, including women's liberal arts school Bryn Mawr, which is also one of the township's largest employers.
Residents bring lawn chairs and blankets to twilight concerts at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo all summer long and enjoy their pick of sledding hills in the winter months. The area's 682 acres of parkland and top-rated schools in the state form a well-rounded nest for well-heeled Pennsylvanians.
Original source: CNN Money
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First Round Capital makes big move from suburbs to Philadelphia

Managing Partner Josh Kopelman writes in Business Insider about First Round Capital moving its headquarters from suburban West Conshohocken to University City in Philadelphia.
That’s why I’m done sitting on the sidelines.  And so is First Round Capital.  And I am super-excited to announce that First Round Capital is moving our headquarters from the suburbs of West Conshohocken into the city of Philadelphia.   I’m trading my sterile suburban office park environment (and short commute) for proximity to Philadelphia’s entrepreneurs.   We’ll be opening a 10,000 square foot facility in University City – right next to Penn’s campus.  In addition to housing our Philadelphia team, the office will have space for startups – both for our portfolio companies (such as Uber’s Philly team, Curalate and Perceptual Networks) as well as other companies (like Technically Philly – who will be locating their offices there as well).  It will have space to host educational and networking events.  And it will have space for entrepreneurs to hang out and work. 
Original source: Business Insider
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Chester County's Unequal Technologies shares secrets of bulletproof sportswear

Forbes checks in with Rob Vito, founder/CEO of Kennett Square-based Unequal Technologies, the company that makes sportswear that helps break your fall.
Unequal Technologies’ material works by dispersing the energy of an impact. When a player gets hit, the Kevlar fibers stretch and spread the force evenly across the surface, suppressing the shock.
“Our credo is to protect soldiers on the battlefield and to protect athletes on the sports field and to protect children in their lives,” saidVito.
Original source: Forbes
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Finally, a pizza museum, and it's in Philly

Time reports on Pizza Brain, the Philadelphia pizza museum set to open this month.
Housed in a gutted and retrofitted 19th century building, the museum is intended to be a real destination, not just a kitschy display. But the “intrinsically weird” collection, which includes hundreds of LPs and 45s dedicated to pizza songs and pizza-themed comic books (Dwyer’s personal favorite), will be part of an ever-evolving art installation.
Original source: Time
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UPenn inks research and licensing deal with drugmaker Novartis for new cancer treatment

The University of Pennsylvania and drug company Novartis, which has operations in Lancaster County, have joined forces to commercialize a new cancer-fighting approach that has proven promising in preliminary trials.
The alliance seeks to build on the recent results of an experimental treatment that trains a person’s immune system to kill cancer cells. Scientists at the university announced last year significant results in several patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia who were treated using the new technique, including two who went into complete remission.
Original source: The New York Times
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Two PA employers among nation's top 25 toughest job interviewers

Allentown's Amazon facility and Philadelphia's Susquehanna International Group are among 25 of the toughest job interviews in a report compiled by Huffington Post.
In a down economy, acing a job interview has become increasingly important. With 3.5 unemployed people for each job opening in May, tough competition means credentials and qualifications found on a resume may not be enough, TIME reports. Instead, employers are concerned with how an employee will fit in.
Original source: Huffington Post
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Philadelphia's Curalate distinguishes itself among Pinterest-centered startups

Ad Age writes about Philadelphia-based, Pinterest-focused startup Curalate, which has signed a licensing deal with Group M Next.
Curalate got off the ground with high-profile customers and has a broad user base ranging from retailers such as Neiman Marcus to CPG brands such as Kraft Foods to emerging e-commerce players such as Birchbox and Warby Parker to publications, including Real Simple (a Pinterest star that was the first print title to attain 100,000 followers.)
Original source: Ad Age
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Amtrak's $151B plan would create 220mph, 37-minute trips from Philly to NY

Reuters reports on Amtrak's announcement of a $151 billion improvement plan that would slash travel time in the Northeast corridor, with trains traveling up to 220 mph.
Current travel times from New York to Philadelphia on Amtrak's sleek Acela trains are 1 hour, 15 minutes. Travel between New York and Washington currently takes 2 hours, 45 minutes and New York to Boston takes 3 hours, 41 minutes, according to Amtrak's website.
"The NEC (Northeast Corridor) region is America's economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-model transportation network that routinely operates at or near capacity in key segments," Amtrak's President Joe Boardman said in a statement.
Original source: Reuters
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How Penn bioengineers are helping build lab-grown human organs

DesignNews reports on a University of Pennsyvania-led effort in regenerative medicine to build lab-grown organs out of a patient's own cells.
One solution that has gained attention is to "print" cells for the vasculature, layer by layer, leaving openings for the blood vessels as required. Yet even this approach has had its share of setbacks. When blood is pumped through the vessels, the seams get pushed apart.
A team of bioengineers from the University of Pennsylvania and MIT took inspiration from a visit to a Body Worlds exhibit and decided to address the problem in a different way. They've applied the open-source RepRap 3D printer as a foundational technology solution and made templates of blood vessel networks out of sugar.
Original source: Design News
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Inside Philly's TechGirlz Entrepreneur Summer Camp

Wall Street Journal reporter Rachel King gets to know the power of the TechGirlz Entrepreneur Summer Camp, a collaborative effort to address the dearth of women founding startups and holding technology leadership positions.
I spoke with two of the girls last week in a video conference. Olivia Moffat, 13, said she got the idea for an app to connect pet sitters and clients through her own work as a pet sitter. Angel Bird, 12, said her team was working on an app to help people locate specific food products in nearby grocery stores. Her teammate came up with the idea, she said, but she was enjoying collaborating with team members to help develop the idea. Overall, there were five teams developing companies.
Original source: Wall Street Journal
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Pittsburgh among best markets for tech jobs

Pittsbugh ranked sixth overall as the best technology job market and Philadelphia had the fourth-highest increase in tech job openings among major metropolitan areas, reports VentureBeat.
Simply Hired just released its July 2012 employment outlook. And some of the results are more than a little surprising.
Nationally, job openings were up 9.2% from May. The ratio of job-seekers to jobs, however, stayed even at 3:1. Jobs were up in all major metro areas, and competition for jobs decreased in 12 of them, including New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Denver, and Las Vegas.
Origianl source: VentureBeat
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Philly takes Toronto

Keystone Edge sister publication Yonge Street previews the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange's upcoming visit to Toronto with an interview with Steve Wray of the Greater Philadelphia Economy League.
One the focuses of the Economy League is what it means to be a world-class region and what it would take for Greater Philadelphia to attain status as a world-class region. As we select places to go, we look for regions that are world class or striving to be world class. Clearly Toronto has attained the status in the global community as a city and region on the rise, as a global financial capital and as an international city. We thought there were a lot of lessons we could bring back to Philadelphia from Toronto that would serve us well.
Original source: Yonge Street
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Pittsburgh hipsters and Philly artists creating 15 hottest American cities of the future

Pittsburgh, as a hipster haven, and Philadelphia, as a dynamic arts destination, are unscientifically included on Business Insider's list of 15 American cities of the future.
The low housing prices, affordable lifestyle, and cool arts scene are attracting young people to Philadelphia. These people are getting involved in the city through organizations like Young Involved Philadelphia and bringing a new sense of dynamism to the city, with new restaurants, shops, galleries, and a cool music and arts scene.
Original source: Business Insider
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Suburban Philly nurse among those enrolling in 'R.N. to B.S.N.' courses

Abington Memorial Hospital nurse Jennifer Matton is profiled as part of The New York Times' look at surging enrollment in nursing courses at four-year colleges.
Ms. Matton, 37, first went to college for an associate degree in radio and television broadcasting. By the time she returned to school for an associate’s in nursing, she was a wife and mother — she gave birth to her youngest a few days before taking an exam. Now she is weeks away from her third degree, a bachelor’s in nursing from Drexel University in Philadelphia, with most of the work done online.
Original source: The New York Times
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Penn State-led Energy Innovation Hub has many actors in efficiency play

CNN pays a visit to Philadelphia's Energy Innovation Hub.

The research consortium, led by Pennsylvania State University and 21 other partners, is a sort of multidisciplinary think tank whose overall mission is to reduce energy consumption in regional commercial buildings by 20 percent at the end of the next eight years.
Original source: CNN
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Social benefit spreads south with help of Berwyn-based B Lab

Louisiana became the first southern state to pass benefit corporation legislation as Entrepreneur sits down for a Q&A with Berwyn-based B Lab founder Jay Coen Gilbert.
In states where it has been legalized, entrepreneurs can amend their legal framework to declare they're both a for-profit and for-good company. As a result, a business protects itself from lawsuits by stakeholders that find the company is spending time and/or resources for anything other than solely maximizing profit. Also, in any state, regardless of whether it is legal to become a B Corp yet, a company can apply for certification, a status granted by B Lab.

Original source: Entrepreneur
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Philly, Pittsburgh, New Hope make top arts destinations list

American Style's annual list of Top 25 Arts Destinations for large-, mid- and small-size cities inclues Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Hope, respectively.
New York City came in first (again) with 43.2 percent of the vote, with Washington, D.C. (No. 2, with 23.6 percent) and Chicago (No. 3, with 22.3 percent) trading places from last year’s standing to fill the remaining top two positions for the fifth year in a row. Out-of-the-blue write-in candidate Dayton, Ohio, vaulted to the No. 2 spot in the Mid-Size Cities list, and eight cities across all three categories were located in Florida.
Original source: American Style
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Comcast renews investment in DreamIt Ventures minority-focused entrepreneur program

Comcast Ventures renewed its investment in startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures' minority-focused entrepreneur program in Philadelphia and New York, DreamIt Access, reports TechCrunch.
DreamIt and Comcast Ventures, the venture capital arm of Comcast Corporation, first partnered on DreamIt Access in May 2011, announcing at the time a $350,000 fund to give five startups in the Philly 2011 program an extra infusion of capital (These included ElectNext, Kwelia, MetaLayer, ThaTrunk and Qwite, whose founders are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Indian.) Later, the investment was formalized into a year-long minority accelerator program called DreamIt Access.
Original source: Tech Crunch
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Philly opens "a new treasure" in Barnes Museum

The Los Angeles Times likes what it sees in the Barnes Museum's recently opened new location along the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
Standing at the threshold of the new museum, I couldn't help but smirk when I thought about how angry its relocation would have made old man Barnes -- unfair because it fails to credit the founder's genius for finding and championing art that Philadelphia philistines once scoffed at. Soon mean-spiritedness gave way to excitement.
Original source: Los Angeles Times
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UPenn leading "open source" model of medical device design

The Economist writes about the University of Pennsylvania and the "open source" model of designing medical devices to drive innovation and improve safety.
The Generic Infusion Pump project, a joint effort between the University of Pennsylvania and the FDA, is taking these troublesome devices back to basics. The researchers began not by building a device or writing code but by imagining everything that could possibly go wrong with a drug-infusion pump. Manufacturers were asked to help, and several did so, including vTitan, a start-up based in America and India. “For a new manufacturer, it’s a great head start,” says Peri Kasthuri, vTitan’s co-founder. By working together on an open-source platform, manufacturers can build safer products for everyone, while still retaining the ability to add extra features to differentiate themselves from their rivals.
Original source: The Economist
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Philly VC funds investing heavily in water technologies

Philadelphia-based Meidlinger Partners and Enertech Capital are among those who have invested heavily in water management products, which have raised more than $400 million in equity and debt over the past five years, reports Environmental Leader.
Altela, a US company that uses a highly efficient thermal distillation technology to desalinate and decontaminate wastewater, has raised $10 million to date. Enertech has invested in the company, and it is backed by Yates Petroleum and Merrion Oil and Gas. Altela is focused on fracking operations and has projects underway in the Marcellus Shale. Its technology meets new regulations for clean water discharge and has been validated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the US Department of Energy.
Original source: Environmental Leader
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City of Philadelphia innovation driver Friedman named to national civic engagement post

Code for America writes about the launch of its Engagement Commons civic engagement tool and how Jeff Friedman, the manager of civic innovation and participation for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's office, will head its advisory board.
Jeff brings almost fifteen years experience driving innovative practices within the City of Philadelphia, and extensive expertise at the intersection of technology, civic engagement, and governance.
"This is an important project -- with budget cuts and tremendous challenges facing our cities, it’s more critical than ever that we communicate and connect with our citizens in an transparent way. And to do so, cities have to embrace new approaches to engagement," commented Jeff. "Engagement Commons has the potential to help make that happen, and the feedback from this advisory board will be instrumental in realizing that potential."
Original source: Code for America
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Philadelphia woman aims to heal survivors through non-profit/for-profit hybrid

Forbes talks to Philadelphia's Christina Stoltz about her social entrepreneurship effort -- a non-profit support and advocacy organization devoted to healing, recuperation and transition and a for-profit fitness boutique.
Together, the participants of this program and I utilized innovative fitness, response writing, and experiential art to transform trauma and heal through movement. Following the 2010 civil uprising in Kyrgyzstan, I returned to the United States. I wanted to take what I learned and try a new model—a new business model and new kinds of programs -- to reach people who have been through what I’ve been, and of course through much worse and for much longer.

Original source: Forbes
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'When art wins, everyone wins': Barnes Museum opens in Philadelphia May 19

Two New York Magazine writers go head to head on the Barnes Museum's controversial move from suburban Lower Merion to the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.

Soon the dust will settle, the feuds will fade, and art will do what it does. Till then, remember this: Owners of art are temporary caretakers. Their wishes are not to be sacrosanct in perpetuity. The move of this singular jewel in the crown to a more accessible location, into a far better-equipped, much more flexible building, allows this monumental testament to art’s possibilities to shine forth more magnanimously and generously than ever before. When art wins, everyone wins. Even ­Albert Barnes.
Original source: New York Magazine
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Gene linked to West African Pygmies' small stature identified by Penn geneticists

A new study of West African Pygmies in Cameroon led by University of Pennsylvania geneticists identifies genes that could reveal why Pygmies are smaller than other neighboring groups, reports Science Codex.
"There's been a longstanding debate about why Pygmies are so short and whether it is an adaptation to living in a tropical environment," said Sarah Tishkoff, senior author on the study and a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor with appointments in the genetics department of the Perelman School of Medicine and in the biology department of the School of Arts and Sciences. "I think our findings are telling us that the genetic basis of complex traits like height may be very different in globally diverse populations."
While hundreds of studies have sought and identified genes that play a role in height variations in European populations — nearly 180 such genes have been pinpointed -- this is the first genome-wide study of genes that contribute to stature in African Pygmy populations.
Original source: Science Codex
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How the Cook siblings built one of America's most-trafficked websites out of New Hope

Siblings Geoff and Catherine Cook reveal how they built teen social networking site myYearbook in New Hope over the last seven years in an interview with Inc. magazine.
Last year, myYearbook, one of the nation's 25 most-trafficked websites, merged with Quepasa, a publicly traded company that runs social networking sites aimed at Latinos, in a $100 million deal. The Cooks still run the show and are focused on graduating to a global market. As told to Liz Welch.
In 2010, we had $23 million in revenue, but 85 percent of our users were in North America. Winners tend to be global brands, so we started looking for ways that myYearbook could span the world. 
Original source: Inc.
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Fast Company ponders Philly as America's next big tech town

Fast Company talks to Technically Philly's Sean Blanda and DuckDuckGo's Gabriel Weinberg, among others, about Philadelphia's bustling technology sector.
"Like many cities, Philly has seen a significant increase in all aspects of the startup lifecycle--start, growth, exit," says DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg. "I think we're riding the global trend here, but also we've had great community leaders as well." He continues: "Our community is very tight-knit, which means it is very easy to connect with the top people in the scene."
Original source: Fast Company
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King of Prussia's InterDigital explores sale of patents

Financial Times writes that King of Prussia-based wireless technology company InterDigital is reportedly focusing on selling bundles of patents and might consider an outright purchase of the entire company.
The two sources said InterDigital appeared to be less ambitious on valuation this time around. Its expectations last year for the whole company were buoyed by the high price paid for Nortel’s intellectual property assets.
An industry banker said he expected the portfolio would attract serious bids because of the interest among large technology companies -- such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Samsung (NASDAQ: SSNLF), and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) -- seeking to protect their businesses from patent litigation.
Original source: The Financial Times
Read the full story here.

Your iPad can act like a typewriter thanks to Philly engineer

The Toronto Star checks in with 27-year old Jack Zylkin of Philadelphia and his USB Typewriter, which replicates the sound and feel of a typewriter for computer users.
"Something was really lost when we moved away from the technology of typewriters," he said.
With that in mind, Zylkin began thinking of ways to remake the typewriter he had found. It was while working at Hive 76 – a hacker space where people share tools, parts and space – that he came up with the idea of making the typewriter’s keyboard function as a keyboard for a computer.
Original source: Toronto Star
Read the full story here.

Poynter peeks at Pennsylvania's Pulitzers

Poynter reports on the coveted Pulitzers won by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Patriot-News.
There’s no question that the investigative soul of The Patriot-News now resides largely with its first Pulitzer Prize-winner: 24-year-old Sara Ganim, whose reporting of alleged sexual abuse by an ex-Penn State football coach shook the paper’s 67,000 central Pennsylvania readers, and resonated with journalists far beyond.
Original source: Poynter
Read the full stories here (Inquirer) and here (Patriot-News)

Paste tunes in Pennsylvania's must-hear musical acts

Paste spotlights 11 musical acts, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Wilkes-Barre, and spanning a variety of genres.

The long stretch of Pennsylvania turnpike that takes you from Philly to Pittsburgh may be one of the most unexciting rides you’ll experience. But these two cities -- as well as spots in between like Harrisburg or Lancaster -- have no shortage of new, exciting bands to discover. Pennsylvania has it all: hip-hoppers, hard rockers, front-porch-folk rockers, indie rockers, dream weavers, power poppers, EDM’ers, and singers/songwriters galore.

Original source: Paste
Read the full story here.

Girls need to learn about technology early in life, says Philadelphia web developer

ZDNet interviews Susan Buck, a Philadelphia Web developer and tech educator we featured last December, about being a woman in the technology arena.

One of the most rewarding things that has come out of my involvement with Web Start Women is the instances when we’ve had dads write in to ask how they can get their young daughters involved in tech and our group. We want to pin a medal right on these parents’ chests!

If young girls aren’t introduced and given access to enough tech before they get to college, they’re already behind. I remember dipping my feet in computer science classes as an undergrad and wondering where the heck the other (read: male) students had gotten all this information that I seemed to be without. It was clear they had been hacking on the material long before they entered those intro classes. Even with my exposure to tech, at times it felt like trying to keep my head above water.

Original source: ZDNet
Read the full story here.

Genetic mutations might predispose children to being obese, Philadelphia scientists find

A study from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia points to two genes common among obese kids, HealthDay reports.

"We see a clear genetic signature to childhood obesity, showing that there is more than just an environmental component to this disease," Struan Grant, senior author of the research, said at an April 5 press conference.

Although known genes have been linked to adult obesity and also to extreme forms of childhood obesity, the newly identified genes confer only a modest risk of developing common childhood obesity. But they are "very common in the population," Grant added in a telephone interview.

Original source: HealthDay
Read the full story here.

Philly foolery: A sidewalk lane just for texters?

The Associated Press reports on an April Fools' Day ruse from the City of Philadelphia -- designated sidewalk lanes just for people distracted by texting or listening to digital music.

The April Fools' Day prank is one way city officials, in particular Mayor Michael Nutter, are trying to draw attention to the danger of inattentive pedestrians.

The lines, signage and sidewalk graphics -- depicting a pedestrian peering down at a hand-held device -- will stick around part of John F. Kennedy Boulevard through the week.

A bogus video released for the new lanes shows Nutter being cut off mid-interview by an oblivious pedestrian, played by Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Steven Buckley.

Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

The Hartford moving business unit to Philadelphia area, plans to hire 50

The Hartford Business Journal reports that financial services company The Hartford is moving its mutual fund headquarters to suburban Philadelphia and has plans to hire 50 more employees.

The Hartford said Thursday the relocation coincides with its expanded relationship with Wellington Management. Wellington, now sole sub-advisor for all of The Hartford's fixed-income and equity mutual funds, has operations in Radnor.

Recently, more than 100 of The Hartford's mutual-fund sales and marketing staff moved from Wayne to Radnor, authorities said.

Original source: Hartford Business Journal
Read the full story here.

New Hope's myYearbook merging with Quepasa to form MeetMe

TechCrunch reports that Quepasa and myYearbook, the New Hope-based social network it merged with last year, will rebrand itself as MeetMe sometime this summer.

myYearbook started out as a social working site for high schoolers, and even though it evolved into more of a social discovery service -- one that’s increasingly mobile -- the name still reflected its early roots. Meanwhile, Quepasa, which tries to do something similar for a Latin American audience, has a name suggesting a regional social network.

So starting in July, the myYearbook website, smartphone apps, tablet apps, and mobile website will all be rebranded as MeetMe. Then in September, the company plans to finish internationalizing myYearbook/MeetMe into Spanish and Portuguese, and that site will be replace the existing Quepasa product. The company itself, currently called Quepasa Corporation, will be renamed MeetMe, and it plans to change its stock ticker symbol (it’s traded on NYSE Amex) from QPSA to MEET sometime this summer.

Original source: TechCrunch
Read the full story here.

PA is one of country's top states for green jobs

The Atlantic reports on a government study showing that Pennsylvania is the state with the fourth-highest number of green jobs, and about 3 percent of all jobs in the commonwealth can be considered green.

The report defines green jobs across five categories: production of energy from renewable sources; energy efficiency; pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse; natural resources conservation; and environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.

The majority of these green jobs (2.3 million) come from the private sector. The public sector employed about 860,000 people. The largest sector of employment was manufacturing, with more than 450,000 green jobs.

This squares with a July 2011 Brooking Institution study of clean economy jobs, which identified 2.7 million clean economy jobs across the United States. The report found that median wages for clean economy jobs are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages, and that a disproportionate share of clean economy jobs are staffed by workers with relatively little formal education. This has created a sizable group of "moderately well-paying green collar occupations," according to the report.

Original source: The Atlantic
Read the full story here.

Smartphone app helps pedestrians point Philadelphia's homeless toward sources of help

Fast Company reports on Sheltr, a Philadelphia-based mobile app that people can use to direct the homeless to nearby sources of food, shelter and other assistance.

There aren’t too many homeless people with smartphones, but the people who want to help them have them, and now they have all that information in one place with Sheltr, an app built to help users find the nearest shelter and food, to make the network of homeless services a little bit easier to deal with.

Designed during the Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon in December 2011, Sheltr gathers information about meal providers, homeless intake facilities, shelters, and more, and makes it all easily searchable. The app detects a user’s location to guide them to the nearest facilities.

Sheltr is currently only available in Philadelphia, the site of the hackathon. Typing in a random address--say, that of the Philadelphia Museum of Art--yields information on the many nearby homeless resources, including Acts Christian Transitional Services (0.8 miles away) and Youth Emergency Service Shelter (0.9 miles away). Clicking on an individual site pulls up specifics. For example, by clicking on Youth Emergency Service Shelter, we learn that the facility offers a day school, tutoring, health care, and counseling, in addition to basic sheltering. If you were looking for a shelter for only single women, the app could help you find that, too.

Original source: Fast Company
Read the full story here.

Haverford professor contributes to new book about the science behind romance

The Chicago Tribune interviews Benjamin Le, a Haverford College psychologist who contributed to a new book called The Science of Relationships.

In the honeymoon phase, you're learning a lot about someone who's new. It can promote satisfaction and it's good for one's self-concept. Dissatisfaction occurs because you know that person and there's no novelty. Relationships become boring. New activities can buffer couples from having a decline. Those things do need to be physically and intellectually stimulating. If you like to watch movies, that's not enough, because it's passive. But if you like to hike, those sorts of activities that are more physical tend to jump-start satisfaction.

Original source: Chicago Tribune
Read the full story here.

Penn research hints at brain differences between drinkers who black out and those who don't

A study out of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that some people are more susceptible than others to losing memory while drinking alcohol, LiveScience reports.

The day after the drunken memory trial, the researchers called to check in on their subjects. None of the participants reported having fragmented memories of the test while it was happening, even though brain scans would beg to differ; the mismatch suggests the "blackout brain" was acting differently even before it started forgetting.

"What could be happening is that some individuals have a brain which can handle or compensate to a certain point but if you put a cognitive load on it, like alcohol, it just gets overloaded," (scientist Reagan) Wetherill said. "Things just aren't working as efficiently."

Original source: LiveScience
Read the full story here.

Pentagon-funded studies of neuroscience could have tragic results, Penn ethicist warns

ABC News reports on University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, who warns brain scientists to be mindful of how their research for the military could have unforeseen consequences.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's science agency better known as DARPA, received roughly $240 million to fund neuroscience research in 2011. Much of that research is "dual use," meaning it will benefit American civilians as well as military forces -- a reminder that many medical gains have originated in the trenches.

"Much of what's known about helping people with terrible burns came out of Vietnam," said Moreno. "Amputation came largely out of the civil war. Blood banks came out of Korea. Every war, sadly enough, has created opportunities for advances in medicine."

Beyond supporting the development of military devices like drones, brain research is helping troops learn the art of enemy deception and interrogation. It has also led to drugs designed keep troops awake and alert -- a feat once achieved with coffee and cigarettes.

Original source: ABC News
Read the full story here.

Mom in Philly suburbs assembling coworking spot for parents of young kids

Technically Philly interviews Aliza Torok Schlabach about her plans for a suburban coworking space where parents can bring their children and get their work done.

Even without the final space nailed down, she has a pretty clear vision in mind of a two-room or two-story space where adults can cowork in one room and kids can play interactive games with top-notch child caretakers in the next.

“I really want to make it less of a daycare and more of an exploratory environment like the Please Touch Museum, so I’m thinking of hiring some set designers and making a little mini village,” said Schlabach. “I’d have something like 3,000 square feet for the kids and really make it a cool place where the kids are asking their parents to bring them.”

Original source: Technically Philly
Read the full story here.

Limit your kids' spending in social media games with Virtual Piggy

Forbes reports on Virtual Piggy, a new service out of Philadelphia that allows parents to control their kids' spending in online games.

It’s the kind of service that should be interesting to parents as well as businesses: the Child Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, prevents businesses from collecting information about minors online, making it capturing that giant market a muddy proposition at best.

“There’s no point in producing teen games if you can’t monetize them,” says (director of business development Joe) Peden.

Piggy runs entirely through the parents, who can use existing Paypal accounts and credit cards to set it up. The service can work in a few different ways: parents can set a monthly allowance, parents can require approval via text for any transaction above a certain amount. They can also only approve certain websites for spending.

Original source: Forbes
Read the full story here.

Chester County biotech company secures $21.5M for new medical treatments

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that biotech firm Promedior recently raised $21.5 million toward developing new medicines.

Proceeds from the latest financing will enable Promedior to broaden and advance its pipeline of therapeutics to treat fibrotic diseases -- which are those caused be excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ.

The company’s lead new drug candidate, PRM-151, now being tested as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a chronic, progressive form of lung disease), will also now be tested as a potential therapy for the bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis.

The funding will also enable Promedior to accelerate the development of its lead drug candidate for ophthalmic indications, PRM-167, which is being developed for fibrovascular retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and proliferative vitreoretinopathy.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the full story here.

Modern forensics used to investigate deaths of immigrant laborers who died near Philadelphia in 1832

The Associated Press reports on Bill and Frank Watson, their decade-long research on an anonymous burial ground for 19th-century Irish railroad workers near Philadelphia, and the recent re-burial of the remains of five.

When the Watsons' team first began excavating in woods behind a manicured subdivision, they unearthed items such as glass buttons, forks and smoking pipes, including one stamped "Derry." Many artifacts are now on permanent display at nearby Immaculata University, where Bill Watson is chairman of the history department.

In 2009, they found human bones. The team uncovered six skeletons in all, and forensic experts found evidence of skull trauma. The brothers speculate that when cholera swept through the camp, these immigrants tried to escape the deadly epidemic but were killed by local vigilantes, who were driven by anti-Irish prejudice and fear of the extremely contagious disease.

Those remains were found apart from the main ossuary, commingled with coffin nails. One set of bones was tentatively identified based on size and the passenger list of a ship that sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia four months before the men died. If DNA tests prove a match to descendants in Donegal, the remains of John Ruddy will be returned to Ireland.

Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia identified as two of 10 "comeback cities"

Forbes finds 10 American cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, that were losing residents in 2005 but reversed these population losses by 2010.

"Pittsburgh's third renaissance is happening," says the city’s 32-year-old mayor, Luke Ravenstahl. Pittsburgh is one of several old-line cities that have rebounded during the recession. Assumed dead through dark years of suburbanization, industrial dismantlement and flight to the Sunbelt, many have turned to institutions founded during industrial heydays to successfully reconfigure their economies. They were rewarded in the last decade when they avoided the real estate bubble and subsequent bust and found themselves with broad-based, fundamentally strong economies during the recession. Allegheny County's unemployment rate stayed well below the national average.

In Pittsburgh, the renaissance Ravenstahl speaks of entailed partnerships with universities and philanthropies built on steel fortunes. Recognizing that the steel industry couldn’t support the city the way it had in the past, Pittsburgh's leaders in the 1980s encouraged the emergence of a new economy built around Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as the city’s hospitals. The effort found 21st-century vindication when tech titan Google opened an office in the city last year, and Pittsburgh will soon boast the world’s largest “living” green building at the Phipps Conservatory.

Original source: Forbes
Read the full story here.

Play Pennsylvania company's game on Facebook and help people in real life

Technically Philly interviews the leaders of ToonUps, a suburban Philadelphia company whose Facebook game "A Better World" translates digital good deeds into real-life charity.

In-game tasks like “Water a friend’s garden” or “Find a missing item” help the game’s 50,000 active monthly users build up credit to then purchase in-game goods. When all the game’s users collectively reach a certain good deed milestone, ToonUps donates part of the game’s proceeds to causes around the world.

“Those type of actions, studies show, actually improve your health and well-being,” says MarySue Hansell. “We’re challenging people to do that so when they complete these goals we’ll actually do a real-world donation too.”

This December the company, which now has 15 full-time employees, wrote a $10,000 check to Cure International to fund medical operations for 10 children around the world including a procedure for a three-year-old girl that helped return her ability to walk after a bone infection compromised one of her legs.

Original source: Technically Philly
Read the full story here.

Research in Philadelphia labs could lead to uses for human-like robots

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on seven humanoid robots that recently performed on a Drexel University stage, along with the college's role in an international project to study and refine the robots.

To tackle a range of jobs in a world designed by and for humans, using a humanoid robot makes sense, say Drexel faculty members Youngmoo Kim and Paul Oh.

"Having a robot that can deal with the world as it is, with stairs and curbs and odd-shaped doorknobs -- a humanoid lends itself to overcoming those problems," Kim said.

But to hear Oh talk about the subject, he seems drawn by the simple fact that a humanoid robot is cool. The specific applications can come later.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.

At Drexel, 3D printing opening new avenues for paleontologists

Time reports on two scientists at Drexel University who have begun using a 3D printer to create model dinosaur bones to study the prehistoric beasts.

“I can’t pick up a 1,100-pound femur and see how it articulates with a 400-pound tibia and 150-pound fibula; not without getting a hernia at least,” jokes (paleontologist Kenneth) Lacovara.

The other option was to manually create an accurate scale model of a dinosaur skeleton, a prohibitively long and complicated process. Huge molds -- which damaged fossils and were a pain to store -- had to be created. Once you had cast a model from that mold, you then had to hand it over to a sculptor who would try his or her best to faithfully recreate it.

Now all Lacovara has to do is scan each bone and the 3D printer does the rest, creating accurate replicas in a matter of hours. The idea is to create 1/10th scale models of massive dinosaurs, as well as other extinct animals such as prehistoric turtles and crocodiles, and use advanced computer models to test the stresses and strains inherent in different movements and positions.

Original source: Time
Read the full story here.

Robotic surgeon at UPenn hospital opens new possibilities for treating sleep apnea

6abc reports on a clinical trial at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in which a surgical robot is used in a new treatment for sleep apnea.

Dr. Erica Thaler says traditional surgery for sleep apnea removes the tonsils, uvula and part of the soft palate. Until now getting to this additional deep area wasn't possible.

It is now with the daVinci robot.

"It's basically opened up a whole new area of surgery that wasn't doable before," Dr. Thaler says.

Original source: 6abc
Read the full story here.

Pennsylvania helping pay for wind farms being built across the commonwealth

EarthTechling spotlights several wind power projects funded partially with state money, including planned wind farms near Altoona, Johnstown and Somerset.

The Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Somerset County, being developed by New York City-based EverPower Wind Holdings, received a $12.7 million Renewable Energy Program construction grant. The grant is the largest ever awarded by the program, which has also provided grants to the 30-MW Patton Wind Farm in Cambria County and enXco’s 38-MW Chestnut Flats Wind Farm in Blair County. Once completed, Twin Ridges will generate 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s wind power.

The $238.8 million project is expected to generate an additional $226.2 million in private economic investment, and is expected to be operational by the end of 2012.

In addition to Twin Ridges, funded projects include a ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) array in Chester County, a solar thermal system for the Franklin County YMCA, two residential geothermal systems, and a high-performance building project in Bucks County, among others.

Original source: EarthTechling
Read the full story here.

Even 6-month-olds can match words with objects, Penn study finds

New research out of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that babies know what certain words mean at as soon as 6 months of age, Science News reports.

“Our guess is that a special human desire for social connection, on the part of parents and their infants, is an important component of early word learning,” (graduate student Elika) Bergelson says. The work is published online the week of February 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, 33 infants ages 6 to 9 months and 50 kids ages 10 to 20 months sat on their mothers’ laps in front of a computer connected to an eye-tracking device. Even at 6 months, babies looked substantially longer, on average, at images of various foods and body parts named by their mothers when those items appeared with other objects.

Kids as young as 6 months, for example, looked longer at a picture of hair paired with a picture of a banana when their mothers said “Look at the hair,” relative to time spent looking at a hair image when their mothers said “Look at the banana.” Infants also homed in on the nose on a woman’s face after their mothers said “Do you see the nose?”

Original source: Science News
Read the full story here.

Video of robots flying in formation at Penn fascinates international audience

The Daily Mirror reports that a video of flying robots, developed in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, has captured more than 1 million viewers worldwide.

Not only are the "nano-quadrotors" able to levitate individually, they can also move in packs -- opening up the possibility of multiple formations and sequences.

They can also navigate spaces with obstacles, flip over and maintain position and carry out formation flying in a project that aims to replicate swarming habits in nature.

In a further demonstration of their remarkable capabilities, the drones are also seen swirling in an impressive figure of eight pattern.

Original source: The Daily Mirror
Read the full story here.

PA teen draws president's attention with robot that allows seniors to see their grandkids

President Obama took special notice of a robot that a Pennsylvania teen brought to the recent White House Science Fair, CBS 3 in Philadelphia reports.

President Obama says he’s very impressed with the high-tech work from young people like Benjamin Hylak of West Grove, Pa.

“Benjamin Hylak, where’s Benjamin? There’s Benjamin right here. He was worried that folks at his grandmother’s senior center were getting lonely, so he built a robot with a monitor and a video camera, so it’s like a moving Skype, and it moves around the center and it allows seniors to talk to their kids and grandkids even when they can’t visit in person.”

Original source: CBS 3
Read the full story here.

Criteria for socially responsible businesses spreading from PA nonprofit to state legislatures

The Star-Ledger explains that a growing number of businesses are volunteering for social responsibility standards from organizations like suburban Philadelphia-based B Lab, and some states are setting their own criteria.

Four companies in New Jersey currently participate in the B Lab program and voluntarily undergo assessments to preserve a happy and healthy marriage between their profits and their mission. The nonprofit claims its member companies earn $2.9 billion in revenue, represent 60 industries and save $2 million annually by making socially and environmentally responsible business decisions.

While no multinational conglomerates have gotten on the benefit corporation bandwagon yet, Seventh Generation, a Vermont-based natural household products manufacturer, is one of B Lab’s largest members and a founding company. The firm sells its cleaners and personal care items in major retailers like Stop & Shop, Target, Walmart and ShopRite.

New Jersey is one of seven states to grant benefit corporations some legal recognition and create its own methods for gauging how effectively they help the community.

Original source: The Star-Ledger
Read the full story here.

Eyes of Congress are on energy-saving building research in Philadelphia

ClimateWire explains that a construction project at the Philadelphia Navy Yard is a federally funded test case for the future of energy-efficient building design.

Currently, the hub team is outlining its plan of attack. Architects, engineers, contractors and businesspeople are using computer models to figure out where the lights, insulation, furnaces, solar panels and other systems should go. The goal is to make these systems work better together, cutting the building's energy use by half relative to a comparable office building.

GPIC expects to settle on a design in the next six months or so, and then the sledgehammers and buzz saws arrive. Over the next year and a half, Building 661 will be gutted and renovated.

If all goes well, GPIC will make the building its headquarters, a place to continue its research and a "living lab" for green-building skeptics to visit. In 2015, when the hub's first award of federal cash runs out, GPIC will have to convince Congress it's worthy of another five-year endowment; if Congress says no, GPIC will have to find another cash source or scale back its ambitions.

Original source: ClimateWire
Read the full story here.

Philly police department's social media channels among nation's most engaged

Social Media Today spotlights the Philadelphia Police Department's use of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to communicate with the public.

The Department started using Twitter to micro-blog or "tweet" September of 2009. The use of Twitter allows investigators to get out a small amount of information quickly, along with a short link providing the opportunity to find out more. There are currently over 5,300 followers of @Phillypolice, the Department’s official Twitter account.

In the summer of 2010, the official Philadelphia Police Department Facebook page was launched. Currently, there are over 38,000 people following this page, which makes it the most followed Facebook page of any law enforcement agency in the nation. The Department links all articles from the "News" section of its web site, Phillypolice.com, to its Facebook page to ensure that information is immediately available to the public, independent of the news media. Facebook often refers police departments that are interested in using their medium to the Philadelphia Police page as an example.

Original source: Social Media Today
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Quanta Technologies' windows save customers money in more ways than one

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Quanta Technologies, a company whose storm windows enable homeowners to save energy without buying entirely new replacement windows.

Quanta bought the assets of a Chicago-area window-manufacturing company that was going out of business, and, in July 2010, began moving the equipment into 50,000 square feet of what had been an RCA television-tube factory just outside downtown Lancaster. Timing could not have been better.

Studies by the federal Energy Department showed enough energy savings from low-e storm window retrofits to enable them to pay for themselves within five years. Consequently, Pennsylvania added them to its Weatherization Assistance Program priority list -- recommended energy-savings actions -- in the fall of 2010, about the same time Quanta introduced its first commercial product.

It was that federally funded weatherization program, which provides retrofits to low-income homes, that Quanta first set out to serve. Its QuantaPanel 500 series, a low-e storm window that attaches to the exterior of existing single-pane or double-pane clear-glass windows, cost typically less than one-fifth the installed cost of an Energy Star replacement window, according to Quanta officials.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.

Montgomery County company makes robots that could make biodiesel on the ocean

InnovationNewsDaily reports on B.E.A.R. Oceanics, which is developing robotic biodiesel farms that would float on the water and use algae to generate fuel.

The biodiesel relies upon a sludgy mixture of six organisms, including the blue-green spirulina algae and Azolla water fern. Such a mixture has proved capable of not only doubling its mass every 92 minutes inside a lab at Rutgers University, but also growing in the harsher environment of a Pennsylvania greenhouse from late summer through winter and spring.
"The whole basis of this system is that you use indigenous biomass, so you don't have the problems of invasive species in the environment," (engineer Rudy) Behrens explained. "You certainly don't have the problems of using bioengineered organisms."

Then it's time for harvest. A mild electric current bursts the algae cells to release lipid oils that will eventually turn into biodiesel. The robotic farm ends up with something like hydrogenated vegetable oil floating on the surface, even as the remaining sludge gets recycled into growing more algae.

Original source: InnovationNewsDaily
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New WikiLeaks-style website created as outlet for whistleblowers in Appalachia

The Associated Press reports on Honest Appalachia, a newly launched website set up to accept leaked government and corporate documents from several states, including Pennsylvania.

The region also was selected, (co-founder Jim) Tobias said, because of its relatively rural area, believing there was less media scrutiny in the region and that a resource like Honest Appalachia would be particularly valuable.

Many newsrooms have shut down and many journalists have lost their jobs, Tobias says, increasing the chances that corruption and misconduct will go unchecked. And many whistleblowers are skeptical of sharing their information with mainstream media.

"We believe our country desperately needs watchdogs at the local, state and regional level," Tobias said.

Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Philadelphia Media Network among media outlets entering the startup business

GigaOM reports on media companies that are venturing into nurturing startups, including the Philadelphia Media Network and its new business incubator, Project Liberty.

The CEO of the Philadelphia News Network, meanwhile -- former Newsweek publisher Greg Osberg -- has said he has much bigger goals for the project, and that he wants to “find the next Foursquare and house it at Philly.com.”

Whether that’s going to happen or not remains to be seen, but at least the startup idea shows a spark of life from the newly reformed newspaper company, which was created after lenders to the previous owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News bought the assets out of bankruptcy. And it’s not the first unusual venture to come out of the new media company: earlier this year, it announced a plan to offer discounted Android-based tablets to readers who signed up for one or two-year subscriptions to the Inquirer and the Daily News.

Original source: GigaOM
Read the full story here.

St. Joe's study to find out how to get people to eat more mushrooms, including those grown in PA

The Packer reports that food marketing researchers from St. Joseph's University are studying ways to convince people to eat more mushrooms, focusing on the fact that they are a good source of vitamin D.

Researchers conducted their first focus groups late in 2011 to explore what consumers understand about vitamin D and whether they make the connection that mushrooms can be a good source of the vitamin, (professor Neal) Hooker said.
There are positive indications that more consumers are gaining awareness of nutrition and health, he said.
They’re even getting blood tests to check for possible deficiencies of vitamin D and teaching themselves about how to increase their intake of the vitamin through diet or other means, he said.

Original source: The Packer
Read the full story here.

New Philadelphia nanotechnology company predicts major progress in 2012

Technically Philly reports on nanotechnology startup pureNANO Technologies and its plans to grow in Philadelphia.

How do you make money on really tiny tubes?: by producing “the world’s most energy efficient flat-panel displays, high-performance flexible thin-film solar cells and advanced mobile water filtration systems,” boasts the company’s promotional materials.
“pureNANO will be the Intel of nanotechnology by providing the material that will enable technologies which will fundamentally disrupt innumerable industries,” said (CEO Lev) Davidson, 28, who lives in Center City and grew up in Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County. “We will do for nanotech what the Intels of the world did for computing.”
To start, in May, the company took top honors and $125,000 in cash, prizes and services at Temple University’s Fox School of Business 13th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl. With co-founder, chief scientist and Dublin-native Eric Borguet, 48, pureNANO was also a standout in the last GoodCompany Ventures incubation class.

Original source: Technically Philly
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Chester County's Organic Mechanics makes money on dirt

Mark Highland and Organic Mechanics, operating in the tiny Chester County borough of Modena, are achieving success by shaking up the huge specialty soils market.

Founded in 2006, Organic Mechanics is now profitable and will pay off one of its first low-interest business loans this year. The seven-employee firm, which started with just one product, now sells nine different SKUs on the East Coast and in the Midwest at independent garden centers and Whole Foods Markets.

Instead of peat, Organic Mechanics' mixes contain compost, which Highland says requires less watering and is reusable for a second season, another green aspect attractive to serious gardeners.

Original source: Entrepreneur
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Cipher Prime's Pulse makes list of 2011's top iPad games

Philly based game designer Cipher Prime is cited by Gamezebo as building a reputation as one of the top developers in the world of music games.

The studio previously responsible for Fractal and Auditorium released their first iPad-exclusive project back in May, and much to our delight, it seemed to be the kind of game that could only work on a big touch screen like the iPad’s. Players tapped circles as they came into contact with a “pulse” from a set of concentric rings – and we found ourselves tapping up a frenzy.

And the music? Wow. If you’re the kind of audiophile who relishes in finding great new tunes, you’ll only last minutes in Pulse before you head to iTunes and by the soundtrack.

Original source: Gamezebo
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Penn paleobiology grad's startup uBeam aims to charge devices without cords

Inspired in part by the University of Pennsylvania's annual invention competition, recent Penn grad Meredith Perry is getting lots of attention for her uBeam startup that is working to charge electronics without cords.

For whatever reason, the uBeam idea caught on quick and people really like it. What scares me is that I have been getting thousands of emails per week from people asking me for the product or when it is going to come out. I clearly want to make sure the product turns out great. I don’t want to be that person that almost made it but failed.

Original source: Forbes
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Philly schools receive national green building award

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the city's school district was given a national award for green features like microfiber mops and green roofs.

Another showplace is (11th-grader Manny) Ortiz's school in Kensington, which opened two years ago on a weedy, trash- and tire-pocked lot. Compared to his former school, "this is bright, and there's more room," he said. "We're able to move from class to class without getting crushed in the halls."

He and special-ed teacher Joshua Kleiman gave a tour Thursday, pointing out green roofs whose native plants hold rainwater and spare the city's overloaded sewer system. Rain that falls on the gym is stored in two cisterns that provide the water used to flush the toilets.

The insulation is so tight the architects were able to place the performance spaces in the front of the building, across Front Street from the tracks of the El, whose trains pass with a dull roar.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Scientists from Penn part of team hoping to find so-called "God particle"

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania who are working on the international effort to find the Higgs boson particle, a missing piece of physics theory.

The 27 Penn scientists involved with the project already knew half the story because they had been looking through one of two windows into the world exposed by the collider. That window, named Atlas, is a doughnut-shaped detector, 80 feet in diameter, designed to detect exotic particles like the Higgs. Another team is using a similarly large and elaborate detector called CMS. Neither team had been privy to the results of the other, but that changed Tuesday.

The Penn team were relieved to learn that the other team, operating the CMS detector, didn't present stronger, more statistically significant evidence for a Higgs particle. This represents the first particle to be found in over 16 years, and no one wants to be on the second team to find it.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Penn develops robots with potential to replace human construction workers

ExtremeTech reports on robots out of a University of Pennsylvania lab that can assemble simple structures with little direction.

A robotics team from the University of Pennsylvania has developed fully autonomous quadcopter drones that have the ability to build simple structures out of magnetic parts. The robots have the ability to work in “swarms” without interfering with each other, and have the intelligence to know when a part is placed correctly and locked into place. The team has developed an algorithm that in their words is “limited only by the battery life of the quadcopters and the number of parts available.” As a result of work like this, architecture and construction may become something that is solely done through a computer terminal. Plan the building, plot the robotic courses then hit the start button and watch your vision become reality.

Original source: ExtremeTech
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Philly's UScience students strike right chemistry on rifle teams

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the rifle teams at USciences, a Philadelphia college known more for its pharmacy program than marksmanship training.

Since science students often have heavy academic workloads, the program requires only two hours of come-when-you-can practice a week. Unlike other schools, USciences doesn't offer full-tuition rifle scholarships, although the school provides a small stipend to most team members, USciences officials say.

The shooting program, which has a women's team and a mixed team, operates on a shoestring budget compared with other rifle programs. Some members donate their air and small-bore rifles, which can cost between $400 and $2,500, to the program after graduating.

The classroom-size indoor rifle range is tucked in a soundproof area next to the school's writing center. "Is this the center?" asked a student on a recent afternoon, glancing at a bumper sticker on the wall that read, "A Lady With a Gun Has More Fun."

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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A more sustainable refrigeration system in Montgomery County supermarket

Supermarket News reports on a new suburban Philadelphia grocery store featuring refrigerators that rarely leak and are easy to fix, making them better for the environment.

Joe and Mary Miller, owners of KTM Supermarkets -- the company that operates this ShopRite store and another a few miles away -- made sustainability a priority in everything from the products to be sourced to the construction of the store itself, which just opened in October.

The fact that the 67,000-plus-square-foot store was built from the ground up made it easier to put in all the systems the owners wanted from the very beginning, (operations director Jim) Madanci said.

Pennsylvania-based AMF Sales & Associates and Conyers, Ga.-based Hill Phoenix worked with KTM to design refrigerated cases that would present products well, but also would meet the Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill Gold standards for sustainable refrigeration.

Original source: Supermarket News
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Southeast PA man's Shift My Gift website lets you gift a donation instead of buying material goods

Entrepreneur features Shift My Gift, a southeastern Pennsylvania-based website on which people can donate money to charity rather than spending cash on material gifts.

After hiking through some of Nepal's poorest regions, Blair Souder returned to his Lincoln University, Pa., home just in time for Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving retail frenzy. Although the people in Nepal had very little, they "were very connected and seemed to be living in happiness and peace, as far as I could see," Souder says. It was a stark contrast to the shopping craze that kicks off the December holiday season in the States.
"I began thinking it would be cool to have a place online where people could easily [transfer their gifts to benefit others] and also create a bit of a movement around it," Souder says. "It would help people reflect on themselves: How am I going to celebrate the next event in my life? Do I really need more gifts?" He told his brother Kirk about the idea and the two went to work building the site.

Original source: Entrepreneur
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Expect the Comcast repairman to arrive between 9 and 10 a.m.

The Patriot Ledger reports that Comcast is expanding is experiment in giving customers one- or two-hour windows in which they can expect repair technicians to arrive.

But Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman just confirmed that the company has rolled out its shortened service windows to all of the towns it serves in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire within the past month. Now, in this region, Goodman says every Comcast customer will be given either a one-hour window (Goodman says those are available in the mornings) or a two-hour window when they request a house call.
This system, made possible in part by improvements in Comcast’s dispatch system (but not by hiring more techs), replaces the old way of doing things. Comcast customers used to get windows of anywhere from two to four hours in which they would have to wait around the house for the Comcast tech to show (I received a three-hour window when I recently called Comcast about a router problem, obviously before this new system took effect in the Boston area).

Original source: The Patriot Ledger
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In Philadelphia, Kembrel combines online and offline clothing sales

VentureBeat reports on Kembrel, a Philadelphia retailer that sells discounted clothing online and in a physical location.

"What we’re trying is a minimal investment retail concept," (co-founder Stephan) Jacob said when asked about the risk involved in taking an online business to the streets. "The key is in the linking of the two [offline with online], and using a physical presence as a branding tool. We're giving customers the option to shop, try and engage with brand offline, but we still offer the convenience of online shopping."
Just 11 days after opening, Jacob said the store is already proving that the model can work. "We're already seeing conversions, people coming from the website into the store, and customers visiting the store and later returning to the website," he said.
Kembrel's online-only approach to selling to college students has worked marginally well. The startup has accrued 32,000 online subscribers, 400 VIP members who pay for the privilege of extra benefits with site partners, and has even been touted in CosmoGirl and TeenVogue as the perfect site for young, penny-pinching trendsetters.

Original source: VentureBeat
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Doctors can use Twitter to share information about saving lives, Penn researchers find

Physicians at the University of Pennsylvania have found that people often discuss cardiac arrest on Twitter, presenting chances for doctors to educate the public, Psych Central reports.

The social network platform can disseminate new information in the areas of CPR training and lifesaving interventions like therapeutic hypothermia.

"Twitter is an incredible resource for connecting and mobilizing people, and it offers users a way to receive instant feedback and information. The potential applications of social media for cardiac arrest are vast," said Raina Merchant, M.D., M.S.

"Health care providers and advocacy groups can push information to the public about CPR training and best practices in cardiac arrest care, and participate in real-time discussions about cardiac arrest issues in the media. Twitter might even be harnessed to save lives in an emergency, by allowing bystanders who respond to cardiac arrests in public places to seek information about the location of the closest AED."

Original source: Psych Central
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Philadelphia mayor spreads message of sustainability to world leaders at U.N. panel at UPenn

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter recently detailed his city's environmental initiatives, including adding bicycle lanes and increasing recycling, for a United Nations-sponsored symposium, SmartPlanet reports."

This is not a fad. This is the new reality of where we are," Nutter said. "Sustainability is going to be here for a long, long period of time."
The best strategy? Institutionalize it. During the race for mayor of Philadelphia four years ago, the environmental movement began to grow to the point where it impacted the race, Nutter said.
"Ultimately, every candidate turned green," he said. "Every mayoral candidate had to have a position on a whole series of issues related to the environment and sustainability. It changed a lot of the dynamics of the race that year."

Original source: SmartPlanet
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New Bucks County facility adds to collection of plants and fungi for medical and energy research

Pharmaceutical giant Merck has donated its 100,000-plus-item collection of organisms to a new research center in Buckingham for sources of naturally derived medicines and fuels, the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer report.

Merck had collected the samples as part of its own natural products library, which is regarded as one of the best curated collections of research-ready compounds made from living organisms in the world.

Like penicillin, which was developed from mold, nearly half of the medications on the market today were derived from natural products. But pharmaceutical researchers lately are turning more to synthetic compounds, which are cheaper, easier and faster to use.

Original source: Bucks County Courier Times / Doylestown Intelligencer
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Philly biofuels distributor passes 10 million-gallon mark

Biodiesel Magazine reports that The Energy Cooperative, a Philadelphia alternative-fuel distributor, has delivered 10 million gallons of biodiesel.

Originally launched in 1979 as a heating oil buying group, (co-director Jossi) Fritz-Mauer said that by 2005 TEC grew and broadened its cost-saving services to customers to include distributing and marketing biodiesel to customers like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia Zoo.
In 2006, with the help of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program, which covers the added cost of using biodiesel blends, Great Valley became the first school district in the Commonwealth to use biodiesel. TEC has grown to assist more than a dozen other area school districts in neighboring counties to help facilitate their transition to biodiesel.
Not only is TEC focused on the distribution and marketing efforts of biodiesel for transport fleets in school districts, but the organization also offers Bioheat, biodiesel mixed with petroleum-derived heating oil to its members.

Original source: Biodiesel Magazine
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HeatSeeker vehicle traverses Philadelphia area in search of energy-inefficient homes

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on home weatherization company and Philadelphia Navy Yard tenant Mark Group and its specialized vehicle that detects heat leaking from houses.

But in the United States, there are 80 million homes over 30 years old that are insufficiently insulated. Typically, Mark Group says, 43 percent of a residential utility bill goes to heating and cooling.

The HeatSeeker vehicle will operate during the fall and winter, when heating systems are operating. And the images are taken at night, so that solar heat does not interfere with the imagery.

In addition to the infrared camera mounted on its roof rack, the HeatSeeker contains a computer the size of a file cabinet, for taking guidance from global-positioning-system satellites to accurately link to an address to its images. The device is capable of taking 1,000 images an hour.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Penn scientists make robot to retrieve dogs' waste from sidewalks

An experimental robot out of a University of Pennsylvania lab was designed for the unpleasant task of picking up after dogs on the sidewalk, Discovery News reports.

Thanks to some researchers over at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab, both culprits and victims of curbside canine malfeasance should have reason to rejoice.

Say hello to the Perception Of Offensive Products and Sensorized Control Of Object Pickup, also known as POOP SCOOP. It's a robot designed by the GRASP Lab researchers that is capable of finding and removing 95 percent of pooch's poo at a sidewalk-sparkling rate of one ppm (that's poo per minute).

The robot uses color cameras to scan for Potentially Offensive Objects for Pickup of the high fiber variety. When they're identified, the robot uses a standard store-bought pooper scooper to gobble-up the piles and place them in a bucket. If POOP SCOOP's aim is off, it will try again

Original source: Discovery News
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One landfill generates enough electricity to power entire Bucks County town

The Associated Press reports on an eastern Pennsylvania town that receives all of its electricity from methane generated at a nearby landfill.

Waste Management operates a landfill for Tullytown Borough in Pennsylvania, and it now sends enough gas to a power plant to supply electricity for the entire town, which counted 1,872 residents last year.

The methane is generated by the decomposition of waste, and contained in the landfill by a liner and the tons of trash, said Bob Iuliucci, Waste Management's senior district manager. But instead of letting the gas just leak out of the landfill, the company installed a system to collect the gas and route it to a pipeline.

The gas is sold to a generating plant, where it's burned to create steam, which produces electricity.

Original source: Associated Press
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Health insurance: Not just for humans anymore

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Capital Blue Cross customers can now secure health insurance for their pets through the Philly-based company Petplan.

"We're excited. We think we're the first" Blue to offer pet insurance, Stacy Balaban, Capital's senior director for strategic development, told me. Employers welcomed the "voluntary benefit" because it cost them nothing - premiums for varying schedules of pets, deductibles and coverage levels are paid by plan members, and the policies are administered electronically by Petplan. Capital gets paid a commission on each policy. "It helps diversify our revenue stream," Balaban said. "Our board's been very supportive."

For a lot of Americans, "pets are family members," Balaban added. Some 500 Harrisburg-area residents jammed the company's "pet/people health fair" last weekend collecting information on Petplan and other services.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Entrepreneurial hustle makes Philadelphia 'emerging tech city'

The PhenomList misidentifies one company as being from Philadelphia but cites the city's biotechnology prowess and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in its list of Emerging Tech Cities.

Those who remain are determined to put Philly on the map alongside other innovation centers, and they have a growing list of assets to work with.   

Philadelphia boasts the seventh highest GDP among American metros and a stock exchange to call its own, so it’s no economic slouch. The city also has a vibrant arts scene, a thriving downtown area, a robust public transit system, and relatively cheap rent compared to its East Coast neighbors.

"What we don't have are the Googles and Facebooks," said Chris Cera, a veteran start-up creator and Philadelphia native. "We're in our first class of companies that are growing up."

Original source: The PhenomList
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Neighbors reimagine vacant Philadelphia railway as city park above the streets

The Associated Press reports on a proposal that would transform an abandoned Philadelphia railroad bed into an elevated park.

"An asset like this will never be built again," said (John) Struble, a woodworker who has called Callowhill home since 1997. "There's too much potential to let it go away. When landscape architects see it, they get very excited -- it's a blank slate."

Walking on the viaduct, with its 360-degree views, it's easy to see why. The railway, already overtaken by small trees, flowering plants and tall grasses waving in the wind, resembles a meadow weaving among a series of huge old buildings -- some redeveloped, some vacant. The entrance to the viaduct is gated and locked but mattresses, liquor bottles and other detritus make it clear that people frequent or live along the rusting tracks.

"This is a neighborhood with no parks, no green space," Struble said. "The viaduct as a park would make it a much more welcoming, pleasant place to be."

Original source: Associated Press
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Electronics manufacturer Ametek adds to medical portfolio with purchase of eye-care equipment maker

The Buffalo News reports that Chester County-based electronics maker Ametek has acquired Reichert Technologies, a manufacturer of eye-care instruments, for $150 million.

Reichert, which has estimated annual sales of $55 million and about 130 local employees, makes high-technology analytical instruments and devices for the eye-care market. Its products are used by ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians for correcting vision with glasses or contact lenses, and for screening and diagnosing eye diseases or conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

“Reichert Technologies is an excellent acquisition, which expands Ametek’s business in the medical market,” said Ametek chairman and CEO Frank S. Hermance. “It allows us to enter the highly attractive ophthalmic device market with an industry leader and innovator.”

In particular, Ametek officials noted, the company is known for inventing the Phoroptor, a commonly used refraction device that is now the industry standard for use in vision correction diagnoses. And it’s a leader in making tools to measure intra-ocular pressure for glaucoma screening.

Original source: The Buffalo News
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Low birth-weight infants more likely to have autism spectrum disorder, Penn researchers find

A study out of the University of Pennsylvania finds that babies with low birth weights are five times more likely to develop a condition on the autism spectrum, Time reports.

Routine screening for ASD is especially critical in light of medical advances that regularly save babies as little as 1 lb. "It's a public health red flag," says Jennifer Pinto-Martin, director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the study's lead author. "We have a wave of these children coming down the pike because neonatal care has improved so dramatically. We are saving more and more babies, and the consequences for their health are going to be profound."

The conclusions, which are published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are the results of a study that began more than two decades ago. Researchers initially followed 1,105 children who were born in three New Jersey counties between 1984 and 1987, some of whom weighed just a pound at birth.

Researchers evaluated the children at ages 2, 6, 9, 16 and 21, looking each time at different outcomes -- behavioral, academic and psychiatric, to name a few. At age 16, they screened the children for autism. What they found was surprising: 117 of the 623 children screened positive, while 506 screened negative.

Original source: Time
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Philly hospitals and colleges search for autism's causes and treatments

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on city research institutions on the hunt for the causes of autism and quest for a cure.

In Beth and John Yocum's living room in Malvern, where their autistic toddler, Amanda, often plays, a field worker clad in scrubs and booties vacuumed straight lines along the floor, tables, chairs, and toys, bagging minute amounts of dust for the lab.

In the kitchen, with 12-week-old Samantha bouncing on her knee, the girls' mother answered an interviewer's questions: What kind of soaps do you use? Yard tools? Toothpaste? Computers? Two pages of questions concerned pesticides for the dog.

Siblings of autistic children are far more likely than others to be diagnosed with the disorder; a Pediatrics study published in August put the risk as high as one in five. So the investigators will be following the development of up to 1,200 babies, while tracking all the soaps, lotions, pesticides, tools, air, and machinery that surround them, beginning in the womb.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly-area teen finds how statistics can predict adolescent depression

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Lucy Wang, a local high school senior who won a prestigious $25,000 fellowship for creating a statistical model to predict teenage depression.

While just "looking for free databases" to explore, Wang said, she came across the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, a database created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey collects data on health-risk behaviors of high school students.
She did a statistical analysis and determined there was a pattern of particular responses that could predict the likelihood of depression in young adults. She found that it correctly identified students who had symptoms of depression 83.66 percent of the time.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Penn student among those who discover bats have fastest muscles among mammals

A student at the University of Pennsylvania worked on a groundbreaking discovery of muscles that enable a species of bat to chirp up to 200 times a second, Popular Science reports.

They set up a chamber with 12 microphones and recorded the activities of five different free-flying Daubenton’s bats, little bats found in woodland areas from Britain to Japan. The bats hunted mealworms that were suspended in the chamber. The animals’ chirp rate was so rapid that the researchers knew they couldn’t be using normal skeletal muscle.

They attached the bats’ vocal muscles to a motor and a force monitor, and stimulated the muscles to flex. The researchers monitored how long it took a muscle to twitch, and determined the muscles were able to contract and relax at frequencies up to 180 Hz and, in one case, up to 200 Hz.

They also noticed that echoes from individual calls ended before the start of the next call, so the bats don’t confuse themselves. But a bat could theoretically produce calls at a greater frequency than 200 Hz -- up to 400 Hz before echo interference would become a problem. The reason they don’t? The superfast muscles are only so fast.

Original source: Popular Science
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Natural beauty of brain cells inspires Penn graduate student's artwork

The Daily Mail showcases artwork by Greg Dunn, a Penn doctoral student who illustrates brain cells in a style of traditional Japanese painting.

'I particularly love minimalist scroll and screen painting from the Edo period in Japan,' says Dunn on his website -- he has also exhibited in galleries in his native Canada.

'I am also a fan of neuroscience. Therefore, it was a fine day when two of my passions came together upon the realization that the elegant forms of neurons (the cells that comprise your brain) can be painted expressively in the Asian sumi-e style.'

'Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they possess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of the medium (trees, flowers, and animals).'

Original source: Daily Mail
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Biomass energy company moving from Georgia to Montgomery County

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Renmatix, a Georgia company that makes fuel from wood and other plant material, is planning to move north to King of Prussia.

A more important incentive than money for relocating to the Philadelphia area was the workforce, said (CEO Mike) Hamilton, who lives near Wayne.
"We have a wealth of material-science talent and depth here in the region, which was attractive to us. We want to tap into that and attract a number of people to come and work with us," he said, citing the presence of DuPont Co., Dow Chemical, FMC Corp., and Arkema Inc.
Another attraction was Pennsylvania's hardwoods, which have the state in the running for Renmatix's first commercial plant, a $100 million facility whose location will likely be announced early next year, Hamilton said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Solar panel firm hires hundreds of green-collar workers in Bucks County

Voice of America features a suburban Philadelphia maker of solar panel materials that hired 450 people after receiving tax credits from the 2009 federal stimulus package.

It's at companies like AE Polysilicon where America's economic growth and clean energy goals come together. Economic stimulus grants created 450 jobs here, with more expected in the future.

Leo Tsuo, the company's development manager, says the whole community came out a winner.

"What we bring to this community, is we bring jobs - of all different levels," said Tsuo.  "We have manufacturing jobs, we have engineering jobs, we have business jobs and these are sustainable, high-paying jobs in an industry that is growing."

Original source: Voice of America
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Google keeps entrance into Philadelphia hush-hush

Technically Philly reports stumbling upon Google's new digs in downtown Philadelphia, even though the Web search giant isn't publicizing the move.

Since acquiring Invite Media, a real-time advertising startup, last year, Google engineers have been working from the 12th floor of a 1500 Market St. high-rise. Yet, the company does not list the office on its official “locations” page and it has gone through great pains to make sure that the office remains off of the radar.

Evidence of the office’s existence includes Foursquare check-ins and a WiFi network named “Google,” which is visible from Technically Philly’s offices across the street. Building security also acknowledged Google’s offices when asked by Technically Philly.

Original source: Technically Philly
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Technical skills responsible for much of PA's job growth

The Public Opinion reports that throughout Pennsylvania, technology-based employment is growing faster than the general job market -- even in rural areas like Chambersburg.

"In most cases, there are research universities that are really developing the new technologies and small businesses and startups spin off and take advantage of that and commercialize it. In our area, we are more akin to applied technologies than a research and development center," said L. Michael Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp.

That means that in this area, the high-tech jobs are more likely to play some kind of support role to other large employers, such as the county's large original equipment manufacturers.

Original source: Public Opinion
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Social media engagement builds fans' passion for Philadelphia Union soccer team

Bleacher Report describes how constant updates on social media and viewer contests have helped the Philadelphia Union professional soccer squad build a fan base in a sports-crazed city.

The team starts by syncing the news feed from their website with Twitter and Facebook, allowing for maximum exposure for each story.  Typical activity also includes re-posting statistics and announcements made by those close to the team.  It is at that point that the franchise departs from the usual and blazes a path in building a stronger fan base.

With games often not televised outside of the local market, the Union gives nearly one update per minute of each game on Twitter, opening their matches to anyone with an Internet connection. Facebook updates are provided for major match events to inform any user who has liked their page what is happening in the match.

As if bringing detailed game commentary to smartphones and computers wasn't enough, Philadelphia rewards fans watching the game by linking contests from the broadcasts to social media outlets with trivia questions on air that can be answered for prizes online.

Original source: Bleacher Report
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Biologists hike to remote Pennsylvania streams to learn where trout live

The New York Times reports on fishery biologists who temporarily electro-shock trout in Pennsylvania streams to inventory the fish so the waterways can be protected.

Participants make rigorous treks, often to remote, mountainous areas, and electro-fish headwater streams to temporarily immobilize trout so they can be captured, counted and measured before they are released.

While about 3,650 streams are currently managed for wild trout, scores of new prospects are now on the agency’s radar. The goal, according to a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Bill Worobec, is to ensure that they receive maximum protection before fish and their habitats are in danger of being destroyed.

“This project is extraordinarily proactive, which, in government, is rare,” said Mr. Worobec, who lives in north central Pennsylvania, a region that abounds both in trout and Marcellus shale. “We’re discovering we have substantially more wild trout waters than most people ever imagined and we don’t want to lose them through ignorance.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Bucks County firm's app helps you decide if you need to see a doctor

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that a Pennsylvania company developed a smart phone app to help people decide whether to visit a doctor, and a Wisconsin health insurer is making it available to its patients.

MobileNurse is now available through Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., Madison. It's the first mobile application of its kind to be offered by a health plan in the Midwest, Physicians Plus says, and is available locally -- for free -- to both members and nonmembers of the HMO.
Created by Krames StayWell Custom Communications, of Yardley, Pa., the program has been customized to include south-central Wisconsin locations and medical facilities, says Steve Sorenson, Physicians Plus director of marketing and product innovation.
"This tool helps someone who is not familiar with the area," Sorenson says. "There's also a segment of the population that's more comfortable using mobile devices ... to do some self-diagnosis."

Original source: Wisconsin State Journal
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Philly pitching event aims to make millions out of women's businesses

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on an upcoming competition for female entrepreneurs who dream of owning businesses with $1 million in revenue.

Make Mine a Million $ Business, or M3 1000 for short, is a national initiative to help 1,000 female business owners reach $1 million in annual revenue in 18 to 36 months.

Since its launch in 2005 by the nonprofit Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence, M3 1000 has had 30 competitions throughout the United States. Of 261 total award winners, 28 percent are now at $1 million or more in revenue, said Count Me In founder Nell Merlino, a Trenton native and the creative force behind another major movement to inspire more career-oriented women -- Take Our Daughters to Work Day.

Nationally, Merlino said, only 2.6 percent of female-owned businesses have reached the $1 million revenue milestone.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Penn prof says virtual tactile simulations could alter medicine and mobile devices

SmartPlanet interviews University of Pennsylvania professor Katherine Kuchenbecker about her research on applications for haptics engineering, which allows people to feel different sensations with virtual simulations.

Our goal is to capture how things feel in the same way that photography captures how things look. We accomplish this by recording what doctors and dentists, in particular, see, hear, and feel as they treat patients.

For example, in the field of anesthesiology, new doctors have no idea what to feel for when inserting an epidural needle for the first time. It can take up to 30 minutes for a doctor to do this procedure when he or she is just starting out. We hope that we will be able to use haptography to help accelerate physicans’ experience long before they try out an injection on a patient.

Another field we’re focusing on in haptography work is dentistry. Dental students must learn to detect very subtle differences in tooth enamel. A certain number accidentally leave cavities unfilled or fill where there are no cavities. Haptics can help dentists feel the different textures, as tiny as the differences may be, so they make fewer mistakes on real patients.

Original source: SmartPlanet
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Biotech software company NextDocs raises $10.3M in Series A funding

TechCrunch reports that NextDocs, a suburban Philadelphia company that customizes Microsoft-based software for life sciences companies, received $10.3 million in venture capital.

NextDocs helps life sciences companies of leverage SharePoint-based document and management software. The company actually customizes SharePoint for companies in the pharmaceuticals, medical device and biotech industries. NextDocs actually has over 100 customers across the life sciences industry (including five of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.).

Original source: TechCrunch
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Philly's multi-pronged plan for low-income residents' digital access

Voice of America reports on Philadelphia's efforts to give more low-income residents access to the Internet.

Philadelphia city officials estimate 41 percent of residents cannot afford computers or to pay for Internet access. But Mayor Michael Nutter plans to change that.

“You can't truly be free if you don't have information," he says. "You can’t truly be connected if you have no ability to be connected.”

Nutter has added technology improvements to Philadelphia’s most recent infrastructure plan, which typically maps out future transportation and utility systems, housing developments and public buildings. Experts, like Andrew Buss, from the city’s division of technology, say that’s a vital step in closing the digital divide.

Original source: Voice of America
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Clinical trial at Penn could be breakthrough in treatment for leukemia

The Los Angeles Times reports on a University of Pennsylvania clinical trial in which genetically engineered white blood cells eradicated leukemia in some patients.

To build the cancer-attacking cells, the researchers modified a virus to carry instructions for making a molecule that binds with leukemia cells and directs T cells to kill them. Then they drew blood from three patients who suffered from chronic lymphocytic leukemia and infected their T cells with the virus.

When they infused the blood back into the patients, the engineered T cells successfully eradicated cancer cells, multiplied to more than 1,000 times in number and survived for months. They even produced dormant "memory" T cells that might spring back to life if the cancer was to return.

On average, the team calculated, each engineered T cell eradicated at least 1,000 cancer cells.

Original source: Los Angeles Times
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Philadelphia-area workshop shows how to convert car to run on batteries

The Community College Times reports on a workshop at Bucks County Community College, during which a 21-year-old car was converted to run on lithium-ion batteries.

The converted vehicle is powered by a 144-volt pack of lithium-ion batteries, which charge up overnight on an ordinary household current and provide a daily 44-mile range. That's plenty to cover an average 30-mile commute, plus any unexpected side trips.

The amount of electricity consumed by each nightly charge costs less than $1.20 at current local utility rates, according to Jenny Isaacs, director of Bucks County Renewables.

"That's like getting 90 miles to the gallon at current gas prices," said Isaacs, the workshop's lead instructor.

Original source: Community College Times
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Penn doctors ask smart phone users to track defibrillators around Philly

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine will ask the public to log automated external defibrillators in Philadelphia in order to create a directory of these live-saving devices, Wired reports.

"There could be a AED in the room upstairs or across the street and you'd have no way of knowing," said Eric Stone, co-director of the MyHeartMap Challenge. In Philadelphia, that is about to change -- using the power of the crowd.

Participants will use a free app downloaded to their phones to take photos of any AED they spot around the city, tagging the location, color and manufacturer. Anyone can join the search, and the Penn group expects that social networks like Facebook and Twitter will both help spread word about the challenge, as well as help people hunt down devices. As an extra incentive, those who locate the most AED's will win cash prizes.

But in this case, winning is far from everything. The idea is to "create the first comprehensive log of AEDs all over Philly," according to the Penn Medicine news blog. That map would then be available in an emergency -- if you called 911 they could tell you exactly where to find the nearest device, or you could look it up immediately on your cell phone.

Original source
: Wired
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Bucks County man's website provides work for contractors and troubled youth

Go Lackawanna reports on TradesBowl, painter Alan Masters' website that connects homeowners with contractors and provides work opportunities for young adults who need a push toward the right path.

The website is crafted to help all three parties involved. Homeowners can locate reliable contractors while simultaneously giving back to their community by helping children stay away from gang activity and other societal ills.

"This actually goes towards something that completely benefits the community. It's about having a homeowner having somewhere to go to find these contractors that want to be recognized as a face in the community. It's also about helping the contractor gain a better face," (Masters) explained.

Original source: Go Lackawanna
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Sale of New Hope's myYearbook.com nets 20-something founders $100M

The siblings who launched teen social-networking website myYearbook.com have sold it for $100 million, and the company expects to remain in New Hope, The Star-Ledger reports.

And by merging with Quepasa.com, a social network with multimedia content in English, Spanish and Portuguese, myYearbook.com sees just the opportunity it's looking for.

"In terms of what's next, bringing myYearbook.com to a global audience -- that's the whole thesis behind the transaction," said Geoff Cook, who will serve as chief operating officer of parent company Quepasa Corp. and president of its consumer internet division.

If Facebook is about connecting with people you already know, myYearbook.com is meeting those you don't yet know, he said. The company is working on technology to allow multi-player gaming and live video-chatting capabilities with a focus on mobile and tablet platforms. Since early 2010, the site's audience using mobile devices has jumped from 2 percent to 40 percent, Cook said.

Original source: The Star-Ledger
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Scientist and professional taste-tester aims to make PA wines better

The Erie Times-News reports on Denise Gardner, a wine expert with the Penn State Cooperative Extension, and her assignment to raise the quality of the state's wines.

Gardner, who fills a Penn State Cooperative Extension job that's been vacant for three years, has been hired to work with the state's 180 licensed wineries to provide them with education, confidential advice and the benefit of a trained palate.

"My new job is using sensory science to help winemakers to identify defects in their wine," she said.

The simple job description is that she tastes wine and offers her opinions.

Original source
: Erie Times-News
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New Philadelphia company creates advanced treatment for peripheral artery disease

Technically Philly reports on the first startup company to spin out of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It has developed an improved treatment for peripheral artery disease.

Using superparamagnetic steel stents, an applied magnetic field forces drug-loaded nanoparticles onto the arterial wall. The company says that reblockage can be prevented for three to four years instead of one.

Vascular Magnetics' CEO Dick Woodward and Chief Scientist Dr. Robert Levy describe their new treatment using an analogy of chicken wire and spray paint.

Current treatment is like coating wire with spray paint and pressing it against a wall. Only a thin layer of medicine is applied with the current treatment. But the solution brought to the table by Vascular Magnetics is like placing the chicken wire against a wall and spray painting over it. Medicine is applied more widely.

Original source: Technically Philly
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Pennsylvania veterinarians help horse heal after devastating fire

The Associated Press reports on Suki the horse's remarkable recovery from being burned over two-thirds of her body in a 2009 barn fire.

Now living on a farm in Douglassville, near Reading, Suki still requires daily care of her now darkened skin. But her chestnut coat is growing back, she enjoys being exercised and gets to roam in pastures after the sun sets.

"She's a very happy, normal horse," (owner Frances) Wade-Whittaker said.

One of her caretakers is Lori Ferdock, a veterinarian well-versed in such injuries after her young son suffered severe burns in a science experiment. Ferdock has been working to connect Suki with the Lehigh Valley Burn Center, which runs a support group, and Camp Susquehanna, for children injured by fires.

Original source: Associated Press
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Privately run Philadelphia-area facility training next generation of would-be space travelers

A Newsweek reporter experiences astronaut school at the National AeroSpace Training and Research Center, located north of Philadelphia.

More than a dozen companies (from stalwarts like Boeing to upstarts like SpaceX) are working on space-shuttle replacements, aided by hundreds of millions of dollars from the Obama administration, which hopes to have NASA use these vessels even as the agency develops a longer-range starship of its own.

But the more exciting shift is in the realm of research and tourism, a market worth an estimated $700 million a year by 2021. Hundreds of regular (albeit rich) people have already booked flights, paying between $95,000 and $200,000 each, and next year Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is expected to send up its first passengers.

That’s where the Philadelphia training comes in. Commercial space needs workers: gravity-free professionals to serve tourists, researchers, and the businesses around them. But they won’t be Buzz Aldrin types. The demise of the shuttle program has shrunk the NASA astronaut corps by more than 50 percent in the last decade; Endeavour commander Mark Kelly is the latest veteran to resign. Before long, “you’re definitely going to see a larger core of commercial astronauts than government astronauts,” says Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, the only company thus far to put civilians into orbit.

Original source: Newsweek
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Pay for Philly newspapers' Android apps, get a chance at a discounted tablet computer

The Associated Press reports on an announcement by Greg Osberg, head of the company that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, that subscribers will get discounted Android tablets loaded with the newspapers' apps.

It's the first time a major U.S. media company will bundle its content with a device, said Osberg, who is also the CEO of Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the papers and their joint website philly.com.

"Somebody needed to step forward and stimulate this market," Osberg said. "There's going to be a tablet explosion in terms of consumer adoption and we wanted to be out in front and learn as much as we can as early as we can."

The initiative comes amid widespread declines in the newspaper industry, which for years has battled decreasing advertising and subscription revenue as readers consume more information online.

Original source: Associated Press
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Doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia perform rare prenatal surgeries

NPR reports on a pregnant North Carolina woman who underwent surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in an effort to correct her fetus' spina bifida.

The surgical team was led by Scott Adzick, chief of surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, known as CHOP. He began the operation with Mark Johnson and Michael Bebbington, who are specialists in obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine.

Through skin, fat and muscle, the surgeons cut through Sarah's abdomen until they got to her uterus. At nearly six months of pregnancy, it was the size of a child's soccer ball.

"We're actually going to tip the uterus out of the abdomen," Adzick said. That's possible because the organ, shaped like an upside-down Grecian urn, is attached only at the bottom, at the neck of the "urn."

Original source: NPR
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Baby Boomers embody qualities many companies seek in employees, Wharton prof says

Forbes interviews Wharton School of Business professor Peter Cappelli, who explains why employers are often reluctant to hire Baby Boomers -- and why they shouldn't be.

The problem is age discrimination is huge and endemic: age discrimination by a lot of measures is a bigger issue than it is for race or gender! It is perfectly OK for everybody to tell jokes and make fun of old people, but you would never think about doing that for other groups. The reason this matters so much is because older workers otherwise seem to represent exactly what employers want on almost all measures of job performance.

In fact if you are curious I will tell you what the other one is where they are not, but on every other measure of job performance older workers do better -- they perform better in terms of their jobs, their attendance is better, their interpersonal skills are better, we think that is becoming increasingly important, and they offer employers now sort of a just-in-time work force, particularly those who hit normal typical retirement ages want to work someplace often a little different for a relatively short period of time.

Original source: Forbes
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Hoping for TV spots, inventors pitch their products in Philly

At its recent Discovery Day the direct-response marketing firm Lenfest Media Group saw pitches for inventions like edible cupcake wrappers and cylindrical razors, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Though its criteria appear to be a little along the lines of knowing-a-hit-product-when-it-sees-it, Lenfest requires several fundamentals for products suitable for short-form direct-response marketing (not 30-minute infomercials), said Andy McKinley, vice president of strategy and business development.

A product must be: unique; priced at $20 or less; easy to understand and use; age appropriate (those over 50 are the largest audience); and retail-ready. It also must have mass-market appeal and solve a problem.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PSU, Penn scientists find rising global temperatures fuel drastic increase in global sea levels

Popular Science reports that scientists, including researchers at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, found that the world's oceans have been rising faster than at any point in more than two millennia.

Sea level increase is one of the most threatening aspects of climate change. Increases in global average temperatures will cause ice sheets to melt, gradually increasing the average height of the oceans and inundating coastal areas across the globe.

Sea levels were stable from at least 100 BC to 950 AD, according to Benjamin Horton, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Pennsylvania who co-authored the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The levels rose a bit for the next 400 years, during a warm period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and then they were stable again throughout the Little Ice Age, which lasted until the late 1800s. Since the onset of the industrial age, sea levels have risen by more than 2 millimeters per year -- by far the steepest increase in the past 2,100 years.

"For the last 1,000 years, whenever temperature has changed, sea level has changed,
' Horton said in an interview. "It's a huge body of evidence to say that in the 21st century, with temperatures shown to be rising, that sea levels will rise. That’s a great worry that comes out of this study."

Original source: Popular Science
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Proposed legislation in Harrisburg would give tax credit for developing video games

Technically Philly reports on state Sen. Daylin Leach's proposal for a tax credit that would benefit Pennsylvania video-game makers.

Senator Leach’s office offered these details to Technically Philly in April:

"The tax incentives would work just like the film production tax credit. A company would apply to the Department of Revenue for a qualifying production expense (or group of expenses such as physical space or computers, music or employees) and after approval and incursion of the expense in producing a video game in PA they would be awarded a tax credit. This tax credit can be used by the company that incurred it or it can be transferred to someone else. This helps the small companies be able to use the credit if they maybe don't have the tax liability of a larger production company and therefore don't have the income to offset with a credit."

Original source: Technically Philly
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Suburban Philly company uses magnets in high-tech therapy for major depression

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on life-sciences firm Neuronetics and its method of using magnetic pulses to treat patients with severe depression.

Studies show that the procedure, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), works better than sham treatments to reduce depression with few apparent side effects. The magnetic stimulation costs up to $10,500 for a six-week regimen of care, is not yet covered by insurance, and may not work for many patients.

The therapy, which carries a slight risk of seizures, is meant for patients with major treatment-resistant depression who do not respond to at least one medication. Still, the technology has enabled Neuronetics to get funding from Quaker BioVentures, a Philadelphia-based venture capital firm that invests in life-science companies.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Batteries on Philadelphia subway tracks will store electricity and save cash

The New York Times reports on Viridity Energy's plans to install batteries that will capture energy from trains stopped on a Philadelphia subway line.

Yet the batteries are fairly small. The whole installation stores only about 400 kilowatt-hours, which a house with central air conditioning could consume in a week or maybe less. But it can accept or discharge energy fast, at a rate of about 800 kilowatts -- enough to run about 800 window air conditioners going full blast.

For short periods the battery pack can handle 1.5 megawatts. That’s about half of the theoretical maximum that a train could put out while it was braking, according to Kevin Morelock, director of the project. (The other half would go on the third rail system.) The amount of electricity the batteries will capture during each deceleration is small, 2 to 4 kilowatt-hours.

The trick is that Septa has thousands of train stops a year, so the system will empty and refill quite frequently. They will hold less than a dollar’s worth of electricity in each cycle but should save $135,000 a year for the transit authority, (Viridity founder Audrey) Zibelman said. The energy savings should reach 1,500 to 1,600 megawatt-hours a year, she said, enough to run 1,000 suburban houses for a year.

Original source: The New York Times
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Solar energy will power TV and movie studio near Philadelphia

Green Chip Stocks reports on Sun Center Studios, a solar-powered TV and film lot set to open soon southwest of Philadelphia.

The site houses an $85 million studio stretching over 33 acres. On that 33 acres lie a 4-D movie theatre, five studios, seven soundstages, and a 370,00-square-foot high-tech museum.

The 216 kilowatt (kW) energy system ranks in the top one percent of solar projects funded by the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program, and is the largest solar-related project in Delaware County, PA. 

Sun Center carefully designed their campus and sound stage to facilitate optimum efficiency, using the newest technology to obtain environmental sustainability. 

Original source: Green Chip Stocks
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Suburban Philly brothers launch platform for parents to watch over kids online

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports on two tech entrepreneurs and their latest venture, a service that allows parents to keep an eye on their kids' interactions on social media.

The Proactive Parenting Network gives members free access to Internet safety information provided by the Mayo Clinic and communications safety nonprofit i-Safe Inc.
Members also can pay $7.95 per month to subscribe to inSight, which uses PredictivEdge’s technology to monitor and analyze Facebook and Twitter conversations and warn parents when they may be turning dangerous.
InSight can spot what appear to be improper photos, cyber-bullying and when children are being pumped for personal information, among other things. Parents can get alerts through the Proactive Parenting Network website, by e-mail, as text messages or through a mobile app.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Entrepreneur from Penn wants colleges to adopt a better platform for managing classes online

Forbes interviews Joseph Cohen -- who thought of the academic social-networking platform Coursekit while he was a student at Penn -- about his efforts to replace the popular Blackboard course-management system.
What bothered Cohen about Blackboard was that it was designed to suit the technology of the 1990s but has not changed much since its original design. Cohen believes that with the advent of social networks like Facebook, there is an opportunity to create an academic social network that uses the latest technology to enhance learning.
Coursekit’s concept of an academic social network makes it easier for students and professors to share files -- including images, office documents, and videos -- on the equivalent of a Facebook wall. Coursekit also features the ability for professors to embed in their calendars their course files so it’s easier to adjust the online syllabus if there is a change in their schedules.
Original source: Forbes
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Researchers at Penn give robot ability to read

CNET reports on scientists in a robotics lab at the University of Pennsylvania who taught a robot how to read handwriting and printed text.

Menglong Zhu and colleagues at the university's GRASP robotics lab tinkered with a Kinect-equipped PR2 dubbed "Graspy" and taught it to recognize printed text on paper and signs as well as handwriting on whiteboard.

First, it locates text on a nearby surface (including the floor and labels on household products). Then it performs text recognition using Tesseract OCR software, and reads the words aloud.

Graspy can handle various fonts and text colors, but its reading isn't smooth or perfect, missing the digits "50" on one poster--perhaps because they were stylized.

Original source: CNET
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With Backyard Farmers, gardeners can grow produce at home with little fuss

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Al Benner and John Genovese started a business, Backyard Farmers, that allows people to grow food at home without getting their hands dirty.
Benner contends that his garden systems will yield not just healthier and far-superior-tasting vegetables than those found in the typical grocery store, but a return on investment in less than two years. That's based on a calculation that three beds, planted compactly via a method known as "French intensive," will produce about 1,155 pounds of produce a year.
That, multiplied by the average cost per pound of produce in the grocery store, translates to a savings of $2,552 on groceries in the first year, according to the company's website, www.backyardfarmers.com.
Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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If you want to toilet-train your cat, Philly's CitiKitty can help

The Wall Street Journal reports on suburban Philadelphia entrepreneur Rebecca Rescate, whose company, CitiKitty, sells a kit for cat owners to toilet-train their felines.

When starting CitiKitty, Rescate had just gotten married and she says that she and her husband agreed to invest $20,000 in wedding-gift money into the business. “We were willing to part with it,” she says. “One piece of advice I always give people trying to start a business is to come up with a dollar amount that you’re willing to lose and stick within that budget.”

Rescate does her own marketing using mostly social media, such as by posting videos to YouTube showing CitiKitty-trained cats using the toilet. Many were made by customers, and at least one has been viewed more two million times. “People are so proud that they’ve been able to train their cats that they send us videos and photos,” she says.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Malvern's Orthovita purchased by Michigan medical device firm Stryker for $304M

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports on Michigan medical technology company Stryker's $304 million acquisition of suburban Philadelphia life science firm Orthovita.

Orthovita is a leader in synthetic bone grafts with its Vitoss product offering, and also competes in vertebral augmentation with a product called Cortoss.

It also has a biosurgery business that manufactures Vitagel, a hemostasis products designed to bleeding during surgery and after. According to information provided by Stryker, orthobiologics is a $5 billion global sales market.

Orthobiologics are materials doctors use to help speed the healing of broken bones as well as cartilage and soft tissue injuries (muscle, tendons and ligaments).

Original source: Kalamazoo Gazette
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Site of suburban Philadelphia steel mill reborn as eco-friendly data center

Data Center Knowledge reports on Steel Orca, a soon-to-open server farm built at the home of an old steel mill and built to use the Delaware River's cooling power.
Steel ORCA Bucks County DC will provide turnkey data center solutions that include co-location, managed hosting and professional services. The project will be housed in a 700,000 square foot facility that will be built from the ground up, and include 300,000 square feet of  data center space, according to CEO David Crocker.
"This data center will be (one of) the largest, most ecologically considerate and efficient data centers on Earth," said Crocker. "We are developing disruptive technologies. We are able to fulfill our vision of building a data center that addresses concerns by many data center clients focused on mandates and incentives to reduce carbon footprint, yet provide optimal high-density and high-performance computing."
Original source: Data Center Knowledge
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Woman giving Philadelphia apartment building sustainable renovation, one unit at a time

Liz Solms, daughter of the late developer Stephen E. Solms, is gradually renovating each apartment in a Philadelphia building with environmentally friendly materials, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The now-refurbished seventh-floor apartment at Touraine, which will be available for rental this week, is, Solms said, "a trial-and-error unit for something that we want to get down to a science."

The renovation, which took four to six months from conception to completion, argues against the belief that Philadelphia renters won't settle for less than "stainless steel and granite," she said.

The tile in the bathroom, for example, is an American Olean product made of inorganic materials and recycled scrap -- even the leavings from the production process are reused.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Teva pays $6.8 billion for Cephalon in deal between pharmaceutical giants

The Los Angeles Times reports that Israeli drug company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, with American headquarters northwest of Philadelphia, is paying $6.8 billion for Cephalon, a nearby pharmaceutical firm.

Cephalon, based in Frazer, Pa., is known for making Nuvigil and Provigil, both used in the treatment of narcolepsy.

Teva said in a statement that the two companies would have about $7 billion in combined sales.

Recently, Cephalon spurned a hostile takeover attempt by Canada-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.

Original source: Los Angeles Times
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See city money being wasted in Philly? Report it to the authorities on your iPhone

Fast Company reports on Philly Watchdog, the city's new Apple application enabling everyday citizens to report wasteful uses of taxpayer money.

Other cities are experimenting with the use of smartphones as a tool for civic engagement and local government. The SeeClickFix system is used as a collaborative 311 system by thousands of municipalities, while the gov 2.0 movement has a wide array of allies in their efforts to make government accountable to the public through new media.

Apart from the ability to send still photos, audio files, and videos of perceived municipal corruption, the app also records the GPS location of perceived wrongdoing and geotags evidence sent into the Controller's office. Users are given the option of reporting incidents anonymously, and also have access to a one-touch button to call the Controller's office directly. The application was created at a cost of $5,400, and the city received assistance from Apple in creating the product.

Original source: Fast Company
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Unlike daily deals, local discounts from Philly's Zooyan aim to create loyal customer base

Philadelphia Weekly reports on Zooyan, which started out as another daily-deal site but morphed into a site offering discounts for businesses to those who will, hopefully, become repeat customers.

Zooyan.com is eliminating the daily-deal, targeting customers’ specific interests and aiming to appear more like a marketplace and less like spam.

"It's the Amazon for the local marketplace," (COO Jason) Probert says.

Though its business-model works like Groupon, which generally charges the companies behind the offers 50%, its rates are more competitive. For instance, a restaurant would make $5.00 off of a $10.00 Groupon meal-deal. While the restaurant hopes customers will buy more than just the deal or come back as a repeat customer to actually make a profit, Probert says both are unlikely. Zooyan charges about 40% on offers and sometimes even less, and is also developing location-based iPhone and Android apps to target neighborhoods.

Original source: Philadelphia Weekly
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Study says PA's foreclosure-prevention program works better, less expensive than federal version

MarketWatch reports on a study which found Pennsylvania's Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program prevents home foreclosures more effectively and for less money than the federal Home Affordable Modification Program.

The New York Fed study says the HEMAP program can be cheaper for taxpayers and help a large number of troubled homeowners. It compares the two approaches by evaluating costs on assistance for two hypothetical mortgages valued at $210,000 at the time of unemployment. The HAMP modification program, the report argues, costs the federal government $13,600 while the HEMAP program cost Pennsylvania $1,620.

The report said the HEMAP program can be cheaper, in part, because when the homeowner finds a job again, the loan ends and he or she begins to repay it.

Alternatively, the HAMP program provides taxpayer funded assistance to bank servicers, who, in turn, modify the borrower’s current mortgage payments, and those adjustments stay in effect for five years regardless of whether the borrower returns to employment.

Original source: MarketWatch
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PA scientists study eye exam's role in treatment for depression

A study by scientists at the universities of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania suggests that psychiatrists can study depressed patients' pupil dilation to see whether they'd respond better to drugs or cognitive therapy, Forbes reports.
"We have shown that a quick, inexpensive, and easy to administer physiological measure, pupil dilation in response to emotional words, not only reflects activity in brain regions involved in depression and treatment response but can predict which patients are likely to respond to cognitive therapy," explained Dr. Greg Siegle, corresponding author on the study.
Original source: Forbes
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Free technology means food stamp recipients can buy fresh, healthy food from PA farmers markets

The state Department of Agriculture is offering 145 free wireless card readers to farmers' market vendors who want to accept food stamp benefits as payment, KYW Newsradio reports.
Mike Pechart, with the agriculture department, said more farm stand owners will now be able to accept state and federal food access cards.

“Folks can bring those benefits to farm markets, and those that have these wireless terminals and readers, they can use their SNAP cards to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” Pechart said.

And farmers also will be able to take credit and debit cards, though those transactions will be charged the standard bank fee.
Original source: KYW Newsradio
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First pitch at Phillies game thrown by ... a robot?

PC Magazine reports on Philliebot, the Penn-designed robot that threw the ceremonial first pitch at Wednesday afternoon's Philadelphia Phillies game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The robot is the brainchild of Jordan Brindza and Jamie Gewirtz, two students who built the robot in their spare time. The Inquirer reported that in addition to a robotic arm, a "wrist"-like joint also helps flip the ball toward the plate. The framework is a Segway, meaning that the Philliebot can theoretically move - although it's doubtful that the Philliebot can field its position.

Original source: PC Magazine
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Rabbinical college's website aims to involve more young Jews in religious life

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in suburban Philadelphia launched MostJewish.com as a way to connect with young Jews who are less likely to join synagogues, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Mostjewish.com includes a game, a blog, a top-10 list, and special features designed to engage Jews in a fun way that can lead to more thoughtful discussion of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.

The game on the home page serves as a fun way to get into the site. It asks visitors to answer a question and then comment. For Passover, which commemorates the Israelites' freedom from slavery, the question is about favorite things related to the holiday.

But for the rest of the year, the query asks visitors to click on the term that's most Jewish. Multiple-choice alternatives might be potato knishes, the New York Times, or Linda Richman's expression "Talk amongst yourselves" from Saturday Night Live.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Reading the Green: High-tech sensors help golf-course superintendents keep the grass green

UgMO Technologies, based in King of Prussia, offers golf course superintendents sensors that monitor moisture and temperature, Golf Course Industry reports.
“UgMO has patented and proprietary reporting and alerting features that notify the superintendent when conditions exist,” said Carmen Magro, vice president of agronomy for UgMO Technologies in King of Prussia, “and the superintendent can define exactly what he or she wants to know.”
For instance, UgMO has a moisture-temperature stress index that combines the effects of moisture and temperature to indicate an overall stress on the turf. The user defines this stress scale and chooses to be notified by phone when a stress condition is developing. Cultural practices can easily be assessed as to how they affect these stresses over time – what works, what doesn’t, when to do it and when not to.
Original source: Golf Course Industry
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Freelance and student Internet developers build unconventional Philly workspace

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on twentysomethings who launched Devnuts, a combination techie co-working space and business incubator.

The large open space on North Third Street housing Devnuts and Jarv.us is anything but corporate, with no cubicles or fluorescent lights. So, for that matter, are the twentysomethings who work there. Some are freelance techies and hackers who rent space for $300 a month, others work on projects for Devnuts, and still others are interns whom Devnuts helps train and then find tech jobs.

At 2 on a recent afternoon, a few interns in jeans and sweatshirts were clustered around a couple of desks, all intensely coding on their laptops. More would arrive later; techies aren't morning people, Fazio said, and the office is busiest between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philadelphia-area accountant gets $4.5M for reporting his employer's tax cheating

A suburban Philadelphia accountant who reported his employer's dishonesty was the first to receive a multimillion-dollar award from the IRS Whistleblower Office, the Associated Press reports.

"It ought to encourage a lot of other people to squeal," Sen. Charles Grassley told The Associated Press. The Iowa Republican helped get the IRS Whistleblower Office authorized in 2006.

The IRS mailed the accountant's lawyer a $3.24 million check that arrived in suburban Philadelphia by first-class mail Thursday. The sum represents the award minus a 28 percent tax hit.

The lawyer, Eric L. Young of Blue Bell, won't release the name of his client or the firm because his client remains a small-town accountant, and hopes to continue to work in his field.

Original source: Associated Press
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Tastykake maker being sold to Georgia baker for $34.4 million

The Associated Press reports that Flowers Foods, a Georgia maker of baked goods, has agreed to pay $34.4 million for Tasty Baking, the Philadelphia company that bakes iconic Tastykakes.

Philadelphia-based Tasty, whose line of packaged sweets includes Kandy Kakes and Krimpets, will become part of Flowers' direct-store-delivery business. Founded in 1914, Tasty Baking is one of the most well-known brands in the City of Brotherly Love and employs about 740 people in the Philadelphia region.

Flowers Foods, whose brands include Nature's Own and Bunny breads, has about 8,800 employees at its 39 bakeries.

Original source: Associated Press
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Suburban Philly's Endo Pharmaceuticals paying $2.6B for Minnesota device firm

The Associated Press reports that suburban Philadelphia-based Endo Pharmaceuticals is expanding its product line by purchasing American Medical Systems, a Minnesota company that makes medical devices and urological therapies.
In recent years Endo, of Chadds Ford, Pa., has diversified its focus from pain drugs to include generic drugs and medical devices. The company reported $1.72 billion in revenue in 2010, with $783 million — or 45 percent— coming from sales of the Lidoderm pain patch. But the patents supporting Lidoderm will begin to expire in 2015, and Endo says it is transforming from a drug company into a health care company.

Endo said it will get about 30 percent of its revenue from medical devices after acquiring American Medical Systems, and will do more business outside the U.S. Lidoderm will also bring in about 30 percent of its revenue, Endo said.

The deal is Endo's fourth in less than a year. Last July it acquired urology company HealthTronics for $223 million, and bought Penwest Pharmaceuticals in November for $144 million.
Original source: Associated Press
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During visit to Bucks County, Obama says renewable energy essential to nation's future

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on President Barack Obama's visit to a Gamesa wind-turbine factory in the Philadelphia suburb of Fairless Hills.

Obama was at the wind-turbine factory to push his administration's goal to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025 and to get 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean sources by 2035.

"These are not your father's windmills," Obama told about 400 workers and guests, with a wind-turbine hub and gear box looming behind him. "You guys are not messing around. This is the future of American energy."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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IKEA sets new standards for products' sustainability

GreenBiz.com reports that IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant with U.S. headquarters in the Philadelphia suburbs, will start rating its wares with a scorecard as part of its goal to sell more sustainable products.

By 2015, IKEA wants 90 percent of its sales of home items to be classified as "more sustainable," according to its scorecard. To get that mark, products have to have more sustainability aspects than previous versions or similar goods. The scorecard will be an internal tool for guiding product development and purchasing.

In addition, IKEA wants all of its home products to be recyclable or made with renewable or recycled materials. However, it doesn't have exact figures on where it is along that path.

"Today, we have little reliable data on the share of recycled and recyclable materials used for IKEA home furnishing products, but we know that the share of renewable materials remains fairly constant at around 70 percent as cotton and wood are our two most important raw materials," the report says.

Original source: GreenBiz.com
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Philadelphia-area wallpaper business named country's top small exporter

The Wall Street Journal reports that Wallquest, based in suburban Philadelphia's Main Line, was named small-business exporter of the year by the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The naming of a home-furnishings company is a shift from recent years, when Ex-Im awarded the designation to mostly high-tech companies -- such as makers of wind generators, medical equipment, automotive air conditioners, water purification systems and anti-bacterial agents for animal feed -- many that catered to emerging markets.

"Wallquest demonstrates the enormous opportunities awaiting small businesses that reach beyond U.S. borders, where 95 percent of the world’s consumers are," Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said in a statement last week.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Self-serve wine kiosks coming to Walmart stores in PA

The Associated Press reports that 24 Walmart stores in Pennsylvania will be home to the vending machine-style wine kiosks that have been making their way into grocery stores throughout the state.

The kiosks are located at certain Wegmans, Fresh Grocer, Brown's Family ShopRite, Giant Eagle, Supervalu, Genuardi's, Acme, Giant Food, and other stores. The Liquor Control Board is working on getting about 100 such kiosks installed around the state, and (spokeswoman Stacey) Witalec said it's possible the project may be expanded beyond that.

Original source: The Associated Press
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Exports from PA businesses up 22 percent, federal data show

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pennsylvania companies' exports increased 22 percent in 2010, a drastic improvement from an 18 percent drop in 2009.
Pennsylvania, which ranked 11th in the nation in terms of total state exports last year, had a greater percentage increase than the nation as a whole, which experienced a 16.6 percent increase after falling 14.6 percent during the recession in 2009.

Canada remained the No. 1 buyer of Pennsylvania exports at $10.2 billion, up 14.6 percent from $8.9 billion in 2009. China bought $2.67 billion worth of goods from businesses in the state, a 78 percent increase from $1.5 billion in 2009.

The chemical industry topped all industries in the state with $10.2 billion worth of exports, up 14 percent from 2009. Machinery, primary metal manufacturing, computers and electronic products, and transportation equipment rounded out the top five.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Demand for Philly-area manufactured goods growing at impressive clip

Philadelphia-area manufacturers are experiencing more growth in production than they've seen since 1984, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The strength was broad-based, the Philadelphia Fed said, with manufacturers' shipments of finished products, unfilled orders, and labor conditions all at high levels.

But the biggest factor in this month's gain came in new orders received by the manufacturers. The Fed survey's index for new orders rose 17 points, its sixth straight monthly gain. That put this index at 40.3, the highest since November 1983.

The manufacturers also had an optimistic outlook for conditions over the next six months, with the survey's future activity index rising 16 points to 63.0, the highest since February 1993.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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New business group wants King of Prussia to be known for more than shopping

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a new business improvement district in charge of reinventing King of Prussia as more than the home of a giant mall.

Not only does it have 28,395 residents, it has office and industrial parks, schools, churches, and a convention center that soon will include a casino slots parlor. In all, King of Prussia has 50,000 employees, making it the region's largest suburban employment complex, said Barry Seymour, executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

"But you don't have a perception of that," he said, largely because the uses are spread across the township without much definition.

A recognition of that, and a concern that being content with the status quo could one day doom this Montgomery County suburb that has more of a small-city feel, has triggered a re-imagining of King of Prussia - the town, that is.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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At PA colleges, digital tools bring dusty plays and poetry to life

The New York Times reports on colleges - including Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore in PA - where students are learning about Shakespeare plays and pre-industrial literature with the aid of 3D renderings and digital archives.

Bryn Mawr’s unusually close partnership with Haverford College (essentially across the road) and Swarthmore College (a short drive away) has enabled the three institutions to pool their resources, students and faculty. In November students from all three participated in the first Digital Humanities Conference for Undergraduates. Hosted by Haverford, the student-run two-day symposium also attracted undergraduates from Middlebury, Brown, Cornell, Hamilton and the University of Pennsylvania, who shared their own projects and discussed other ways in which undergraduates could use new technology for research.

Jen Rajchel, one of the conference organizers, is the first undergraduate at Bryn Mawr to have a digital senior thesis accepted by the English department: a Web site and archive on the American poet Marianne Moore, who attended the college nearly a century ago.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philly reverses population decline, earns Smarter Cities grant

U.S. Census figures revealed Philadelphia gained population for the first time in nearly 60 years on the same day the city earned a $500,000 grant from IBM, reports sister publication Flying Kite.
The city's population increased by nearly 8,500 to 1,526,006--a 0.6 percent uptick since the 2000 census. Population peaked here in 1950 at nearly 2.1 million. Elsewhere in Greater Philadelphia, populations in Chester (15.1 percent to 498,886) Montgomery (6.6 percent to 799,874), Bucks (4.6 percent to 625,249) and Delaware (1.5 percent to 558,979) all increased.

Bigger, on this day, also means smarter. In June, Mayor Michael Nutter led a forum of 150 local leaders to address the possibility of population growth and the potential stresses on older infrastructures and shifting worker skills, to name just two. Today, Nutter announced the city's selection to IBM's competitive grant program, which will award grants for technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the next three years.
Source: Flying Kite
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Microsoft Technology Center debuts in Chester County

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Gov. Tom Corbett recently visited the Philadelphia suburbs to check out the newest Microsoft Technology Center, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.

The 17,500-square-foot center, located at Microsoft's district office in Malvern, features the latest consumer and business technology. Followed by a crowd of Microsoft employees and media, Ballmer and Corbett watched demonstrations of video conferencing capabilities, Microsoft's new smart phone and the Kinect video gaming system. Corbett even tried his hand at video game bowling.

Original source: Bucks County Courier Times
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Students' writing on walls in Delco classroom will be preserved digitally

Students wrote on the walls of Thom Williams' high school classroom in Newtown Square for 35 years. He died in December and the walls are coming down, but the school will first take digital photos of the writings, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The school had announced that the classroom walls would be taken down in a renovation project now under way, saddening many of Mr. Williams's former students. Their efforts to save their signatures and wall art intensified in the last week, as they lobbied the school district with calls and emails.

Mr. Williams's classroom "is a tangible record of his free spirit and its impact on students," (Principal) Dr. (Ray) McFall said in a statement. "In the midst of our renovations we recognize that his room is a unique and irreplaceable record that must be preserved."

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Philly, Pittsburgh docs hope to give young cancer survivors a chance to be parents when they grow up

Is it possible to freeze the stem cells of child cancer patients so they can have kids of their own someday? Researchers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are testing this, the Associated Press reports.

Numerous forms of chemotherapy, high-dose body-wide radiation, radiation aimed at the pelvis and some surgeries can leave patients unable to procreate.

Even young adults too often aren't told in time about fertility preservation options, despite guidelines issued in 2006 urging doctors to discuss them upfront.

Where does that leave the youngest patients? Boys don't produce sperm before puberty, ruling out sperm banking. Girls are born with all the eggs they'll ever have but those are in an immature state, so egg-freezing isn't an option.

Original source: Associated Press
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Genetic engineering of immune cells could mean resistance to HIV, Penn scientist finds

A scientist from the University of Pennsylvania helped develop a promising new therapy that creates immunity to HIV by altering patients' genes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The engineered cells remained free of HIV infection in all nine patients and multiplied dramatically in eight of them, accounting for an average of 6 percent of their total supply of the immune cells, known as T cells. The T cells were found in tissue in the patients' guts, an area where HIV builds a reservoir.

No patient suffered serious side effects, although all had temporary symptoms such as headache, chills, or fever.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Osage University Partners to invest $100M in colleges' intellectual property

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that local venture capitalists have raised $100 million to invest in research at eight colleges, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Osage University Partners has agreements with eight universities that allow it to use their rights to invest in companies that have licensed intellectual property developed by their researchers. In exchange for using the rights, the firm gives the universities a share of any profits it makes from its investments in their companies.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Penn freshman's soon-to-launch microfinance site among Inc.'s Coolest College Startups

PoverUP, a microfinance platform University of Pennsylvania student Charlie Javice started to pull people out of poverty in a sustainable way, has been chosen by Inc. as one of its Coolest College Start-ups.

PoverUP plans to launch its investment platform on April 13, 2011, which Javice is calling PoverUP Your World – 1st Annual Student Microfinance Day. The non-profit works with a diverse set of microfinance partners that will ultimately drive investments to more than 100 countries. PoverUP is also partnered with the London School of Economics Microfinance Society to tap into their networks and research.

Javice's goal for PoverUP, which draws its names from "getting up out of poverty," is to have satellite groups on 500 campuses within the next five years. Eventually, Javice plans to step out of a direct leadership role, since she believes the organization should be entirely student-run. "When students work together, we can really have an impact," she says.

Original source: Inc.
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Brothers' Eastern PA business plans to reinvent LED lighting

Two brothers were unsuccessful making a business out of selling LED lighting systems, but now they're poised to reinvent LED lights altogether, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

In just the last six or seven years, LEDs have emerged from relative obscurity in the United States to become serious contenders in the commercial-lighting market, as more environmentally friendly (no mercury), energy-efficient (less heat-producing) alternatives to fluorescents. Along the way, however, criticisms have mounted about their comparative performance and cost.

Rather than scare off the Blooms, those criticisms inspired them to do better.

In what John Bloom called the "happy accident" of venturing into the business during a rough economic climate and a time of serious industry introspection and standards development, Keystone LED is positioned to "quickly produce a product that will answer the major issues and challenges in the marketplace," he said in an interview last week from his home in Seattle. (His brother lives in Warminster.)

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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StartUp Visa Act would give immigrant entrepreneurs visas to stay in places like Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on upcoming legislation in Congress that would give green cards to immigrants poised to start new businesses and put Americans to work.

The StartUp Visa Act targets startup efforts across all sectors, but enthusiasm for the bill is especially acute in tech communities like Pittsburgh that see an outsize number of foreign-born students who want to stay and develop a company.

But these new visas -- a permanent resident card (or "green card") called an EB-6 -- aren't available to any immigrant with a good idea. To qualify, an entrepreneur would need to raise at least $250,000 from investors, and over two years create at least five full-time jobs in the United States, attract $1 million in additional investment or surpass revenue of $1 million.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA's manufacturing sector driving economic rebound, says study

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes about a study that says PA's manufacturing sector is driving the economic rebound..

"Manufacturing is driving the economic rebound," said Petra Mitchell, president of the nonprofit Catalyst Connection in South Oakland, an agency that helps companies grow and develop new products.

The state's manufacturers generated goods and services -- or gross state product -- of $131,147 per employee in 2010, compared to $97,222 last year for non-manufacturers, according to the study.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Vice President takes Amtrak to Philly to tout billions in high-speed rail investment

Vice President Joe Biden took the train to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, where he solicited support for President Obama's wish to invest $53 billion in enhanced rail service nationwide, The Washington Post reports.
The plan to spend billions more on a vast high-speed-rail network was cast by the administration as vital to keeping the United States competitive with world markets that already use the technology.

"Public infrastructure investment raises private-sector productivity," Vice President Biden said Tuesday, continuing a theme struck by the president in his State of the Union speech last month. "They literally are the veins and arteries of commerce."
Original source: The Washington Post
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Facebook Challenge asks Philly college students to abstain from social-networking site

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 18 students at Holy Family University, taking a cue from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology,  have pledged to give up Facebook for 30 days -- or for as long as they can stand to avoid status updates.
Is the social-networking site just an efficient way to keep in touch with friends? Or has it become a habit with ill effects on schoolwork, relationships, and self-esteem?

Every Monday during February, a support group will meet so students can talk about it.

All 3,500 students enrolled at the main campus, as well as at Bucks County branches in Bensalem and Newtown, were invited to take up the challenge, a joint effort of the college's Counseling Center and Disability Services Office and the Residence Life division. Slightly more than one-half of 1 percent did.
Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PA offers plenty of potential for entrepreneurship, state treasurer says

Technically Philly shares an interview with state treasurer Rob McCord, who says that with more resources, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could become centers for entrepreneurship.

I’m a glass half full guy. Pennsylvania is doing very well, not perfect, but very well.

Most regions in the country couldn’t just add water -- give them a certain amount of money -- and have jobs follow. Philadelphia is one of those regions.

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is another. Very few people in the southeast know what is happening in that southwest portion. It takes more work there, but it’s real. I look at it region by region, and Pennsylvania has a uniquely high number of those regions that can offer wealth from (entrepreneurship).

Original source: Technically Philly
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Bucking national trends, Philly is home to more immigrants

Julia Baird, former deputy editor for Newsweek, writes in The Philadelphia Inquirer about why she and other immigrants are flocking to the City of Brotherly Love.

I wouldn't be a true resident of this self-deprecating town if I didn't point out that more people are still leaving the city than coming in - this has been happening for decades and is considered normal in a place where there are more births than deaths. But the net outflow of people has halved in recent years, and this survey did not include foreign immigrants, who are flocking here.

A 2008 Brookings Report found that, "among its peers, metropolitan Philadelphia has the largest and fastest growing [foreign] immigrant population" - which was then, at 500,000 people, 9 percent of the total population. Forty percent of those immigrants are from Asia. Well over half of them came to the United States after 1990. And, as important, almost three quarters of the growth in greater Philadelphia's labor force since 2000 is due to immigrants. In the 1990s, only one-third of this growth was attributable to immigrants.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Rendell leaves governor's mansion, returns to Philly law firm

The Wall Street Journal reports that former Gov. Ed Rendell has returned to his old law firm in Philadelphia. He also plans to write a book and push for investment in infrastructure.

Mr. Rendell is rejoining his old law firm, Ballard Spahr LLP in Philadelphia, where he said he’ll advise clients on a wide array of issues, including energy, higher education, health care and public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Coal is still king in PA, but alternative energy, deregulation are changing the landscape

Coal provides more than half of Pennsylvania's electricity, but the growth of alternative power sources and deregulation of electric utilities is altering the energy landscape, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

At play in the energy debate is geography. On one side: the state's still-thriving coal towns, largely in the southwest. On the other: former industrial regions, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown, that after decades of job loss see fresh economic opportunity. At a former U.S. Steel site in Bucks County, for example, a wind-turbine manufacturer employs 265.

But deregulation of the electricity market makes the battle relevant to all Pennsylvanians. It has given them more choice over who supplies their electricity, and how much of it -- if any -- they want to come from alternative sources such as solar and wind power.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Morphotek building $40M drug manufacturing facility in Chester County

The Daily Local News reports on a $40 million building addition by Morphotek, a suburban Philadelphia company that develops cancer treatments.

Morphotek will use the new space to produce experimental cancer-fighting drugs used in early stage clinical trials.

As the company adds space, the payroll will grow, too.

Morphotek, which has 200 employees now, expects to add 30 to 50 more in 2012.

Original source: Daily Local News
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What Philly Has That Pittsburgh Wants

Pop City takes a look across the state at assets in Philly that Pittsburgh would love to make its own.

Making the most of Philadelphia's identity as the cradle of liberty is a single-subject museum that speaks to the city past and present.  The National Constitution Center opened its doors in 2003 and shines a light on the four-page document from every conceivable angle.

In a city fueled by immigrants, food is on everyone's lips.  Restauranteur Stephen Starr has leveraged that in recent years, opening a slew of stylish concept eateries in and around Center City.  Eating his lunch of late are chef-driven restaurant groups helmed by Iron Chef and James Beard Award winner Jose Garces and fellow Beard award recipient Marc Vetri.

Source: Pop City
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Legal firm adds attorneys to focus on energy law

The Legal Intelligencer reports that law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, which has offices across the state, has hired five attorneys who specialize in traditional and renewable sources of energy.

When it comes to energy and the Keystone State, utilities have been less of a focus than has renewable energy and natural gas. Pennsylvania -- particularly in the western and northeastern parts of the state -- has been a hotbed for firms looking to get a piece of the Marcellus Shale pie. A number of out-of-state firms have opened or grown offices in Pittsburgh and homegrown firms have added depth in their energy, corporate and litigation practices, all related to the growth of the natural gas industry in the state.

Original source: The Legal Intelligencer
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Penn's robots need minimual human guidance when building structures

Robots developed in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania can build a simple structure with minimal guidance from humans, reports Mashable.

The robot builders simply tell the copters which structure to build, and then, according to a GRASP technician, the quadrotors cooperatively “figure out the assembly plan and then build it.” The flying bots even have the ability to go for another attempt if the magnetic parts don’t snap together quite right.

Original source: Mashable
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Now-famous surgeons who grew up in PA are treating wounded Arizona congresswoman

The two surgeons treating Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman critically injured in a mass shooting in Tucson, have Pennsylvania roots and are adjusting to their newfound celebrity, reports the Associated Press.
One is an irrepressible South Korea native who has treated some of the most horrific wartime injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other is a reserved neurosurgeon who happens to be the brother-in-law of television show host Dr. Oz.
Together, they have stood in their white lab coats before a gaggle of TV cameras every morning to update the nation about their highest-profile patient to date: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded after being shot point-blank in the head last weekend.
Original source: Associated Press
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Delaware Valley College planning to build life sciences center

Money from the state and from Bucks County will be put toward a new life sciences building at Delaware Valley College, The Intelligencer reports.

It's the school's hope that the 31,625-square-foot building will be a great addition to the college, offering a state-of-the-art facility that will include laboratories, a lecture hall and classrooms.

Grounded in the basic sciences, life science covers the use of science and technology to improve the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment.

Nearly 40 percent of DelVal's undergraduates are majoring in life sciences, including animal biotechnology and conservation, biology and chemistry.

Original source: The Intelligencer
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Philadelphia's a great place to launch a tech company, Monetate CEO says

Monetate CEO David Brussin writes in VentureBeat that the Philadelphia area offers many advantages for startups: A thriving venture capital community, great mentors and colleges that produce talented graduates.

If you are currently located outside the Valley but in a so-called secondary market such as Philadelphia or Boston, Seattle or Austin, you may be well-placed to succeed without moving. Yes, Silicon Valley still has large amounts of human capital, venture capital, and deal-making expertise, but there are also a very large number of companies competing for it.

The availability of venture funds in secondary markets, as well as angel money and super-angels, has also increased substantially in recent years – in some places outpacing the supply of exciting local projects seeking funds. As a result, the chances of your project getting the VC attention it deserves may be higher in a secondary market.

Original source: VentureBeat
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Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to become fourth U.S. hospital to transplant hands

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania will become the fourth American hospital to transplant hands. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has also performed the procedure.

Penn's new program is directed by L. Scott Levin, an internationally known orthopedic and plastic surgeon who was recruited from Duke University 17 months ago.

To date, only three medical centers in the United States - among them the University of Pittsburgh - have transplanted hands. Worldwide, about 50 people have received hands since the first successful case in France in 1998.

Levin said Penn's expansion into this arena makes sense because its solid organ transplantation program is "preeminent," and because patients who have lost extremities desperately need better options than artificial limbs.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PA intellectual property attorneys embrace high-tech devices

Pennsylvania's intellectual property lawyers are ahead of their colleagues in adopting devices like iPads and Kindles, The Legal Intelligencer reports.

In mid-November, The Legal Intelligencer ran a story headlined "Pennsylvania Firms Not Early Adopters of Tech Trends," in which several midsized general practice firms said they still prefer BlackBerry devices to alternatives like Apple's iPhone and see little practical use in devices like Amazon's Kindle eReader or Apple's iPad tablet computer.

Almost immediately after that story ran, we received feedback from lawyers who said they use these devices for work on a regular basis.

Invariably, they were intellectual property attorneys.

Original source: The Legal Intelligencer
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B Lab co-founder explains measurement of businesses' environmental and social impact

SmartPlanet has an interview with former sneaker king Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, a Berwyn nonprofit that certifies businesses for environmental and social sustainability.

B Corporations are for sustainable business what LEED is for green buildings. In the case of a B Corporation, it’s not just about the building. It’s about the business as a whole -- how they treat their employees, how they’re engaged in their local community, how they treat their suppliers and how they are good stewards of the environment.

Original source: SmartPlanet
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Philadelphia-area e-commerce firm receives venture capital for workforce expansion

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that Monetate, a West Conshohocken company that provides e-commerce services, received $5 million in venture capital.
Monetate has received $5 million in venture capital to fund an expansion that will increase its staff from 30 to 50.
FirstRound Capital, the West Conshohocken, Pa., venture firm that provided West Conshohocken-based Monetate with seed funding and, until relatively recently, office space, led the funding along with Floodgate Fund LP, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Drexel reshaping how small colleges manage their IT services

Campus Technology reports that Drexel University is an innovator when it comes to its management of internal information technology services for several small colleges.

As cloud computing comes into its own in the higher education space, at least one university has been quietly pioneering an innovative way to deliver technology services on demand, via the Internet, to other institutions. Since the late-1990s, Drexel University in Philadelphia has been serving as an outsourced IT department for a group of colleges that lack the infrastructure necessary to run their own enterprise-wide systems.

Original source: Campus Technology
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West Chester University to get $4.7 million to expand geothermal energy system

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Energy will give West Chester University $4.7 million to heat more buildings with geothermal energy.

The university, which belongs to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, will use the grant to put three buildings on its geothermal system, which it says will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 4.7 million pounds per year.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Philadelphia mayor holds his own in front of national audience on Meet the Press

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter arrived on TV screens across the country as a panelist on a Sunday-morning public-affairs show, NewsWorks reports.
Nutter got the first question and the last one, and he generally spoke with confidence and clarity, defending President Obama and insisting economic recovery is coming to Philadelphia. He even managed to sound coherent on the un-answerable question of whether TSA airport searches are too intrusive.
Original source: NewsWorks
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PA is No. 3 in U.S. for number of solar projects, says gov't survey

A recent government survey shows that Pennsylvania is one of the top states for generating solar power, EarthTechling reports.

The EPA highlighted new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) latest open photovoltaic survey, which ranks Pennsylvania third nationally in the number of solar projects operating today and fourth in installed capacity. According to NREL, the state now has 2,434 projects that account for 38.5 megawatts of generating capacity–enough to power about 5,800 homes–second only to California and New Jersey.

Original source: EarthTechling
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Scientists' work on stem cell conversion shows early promise for medical research

The Associated Press reports on University of Pennsylvania scientist John Gearhart, one of many researchers making progress toward switching cells from one specialized function to another, a potentially major scientific breakthrough.

The concept is two steps beyond the familiar story of embryonic stem cells, versatile entities that can be coaxed to become cells of all types, like brain and blood. Scientists are learning to guide those transformations, which someday may provide transplant tissue for treating diseases like Parkinson's or diabetes.

It's still experimental. But at its root, it's really just harnessing and speeding up what happens in nature: a versatile but immature cell matures into a more specialized one.

Original source: Associated Press
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Business owners predict upcoming renaissance in Parkesburg

The Daily Local News reports that new businesses are arriving in Parkesburg, a small town in western Chester County, signaling better economic times and a new commercial corridor.

Salon Boninu and RMON Tech, a computer repair shop, have opened up across the street. Between those two shops, the bank building, Rocco and Anna’s Ristorante Italiano, a popular Italian restaurant that’s been a mainstay in Parkesburg, and a bakery that’s opening soon, “we have formed the nucleus of a new commercial corridor,” real-estate developer Brad Sinrod said.

The other major effort pointing toward a revitalization: The borough is forming a Main Street Revitalization Committee it hopes will bring the same sort of process that Kennett Square, West Chester, Oxford and Phoenixville have used to revitalize their business districts.

Original source: Daily Local News
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Philadelphia financial planners offer online service for the average investor

Veritat Advisors recently launched a Web-based platform for providing financial advice to clients who otherwise might not visit a financial planner, VentureBeat reports.

Philadephia-based Veritat Advisors is unveiling its new web site today that offers financial planning for the rest of us. The company has a unique combination of personal service and automated web service. Every client gets to pick their own personal financial advisor based on the advisor’s resume and other interests. They can submit information to the advisor and then do a live video chat.

Original source: VentureBeat
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Philly entrepreneur opens PA's first commercial charging station for electric vehicles

Norman P. Zarwin of Philadelphia is offering free electricity at his commercial charging station for electric vehicles, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Zarwin, cofounder of U-Go Stations Inc., reckons it is only a matter of time before EVs flock to his Liberty Service Station at 1600 S. Columbus Blvd. to plug in.

"Which comes first, the cars or the charging stations?" Zarwin asked. "There should be a wave of electric cars and trucks in the future."

Indeed, there is much buzz these days about electric vehicles. General Electric Co., which also plans to move into the vehicle-charging market, announced Thursday that it would buy 25,000 electric vehicles in the next five years to jump-start the market.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Chester County global CRO's $25M project will renovate facility, add 86 jobs

PPD Inc., a global contract research organization based in Wayne, will renovate its existing facility and create 86 jobs as part of a $25 million project, reports Pharmaceutical Jobs.

PPD provides drug discovery, development and lifecycle management services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies across the world and employs more than 10,500 professionals worldwide. The company offers a wide range of services from its Wayne facility, including a vaccines and biologics laboratory, and bioanalytical and global central labs services.

"With a large concentration of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies based in the northeast United States, expanding our laboratory operations in Wayne builds on our ability to serve clients in this region more effectively," said Lee Babiss, executive vice president of global laboratory services for PPD.

Original source: Pharmaceutical Jobs
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Temple prof's appointment enables further sustainability research in insurance industry

James Hutchin, a clinical professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business, is spearheading a study on insurance companies' view of sustainability, reports Temple News.

Hutchin and a team of students from the school’s required capstone experience for MBAs, named the Enterprise Management Consulting Practice, or EMC, began the study in 2008 with funding from the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative.

The researchers were required to complete a global survey of insurance companies, executives and underwriters -- the people who calculate risk. From that survey, Hutchin and his team had to determine “how they viewed sustainability and how their views of sustainability affect the taking of risk and pricing of risk,” he said.

"What we found is, individuals seem to be ahead of their companies in terms of viewing sustainability as important in the insurance industry," Hutchin added.

Original source: Temple News
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Vanguard founder, 81: 'I'm Trying to work shorter days'

John Bogle, the 81 year-old founder of Malvern-headquartered investment giant Vanguard Group, reveals he is hardly retiring in a lengthy interview with Financial Times.

He has just published his ninth book, Don’t Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes. Bogle lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Eve. They have six children and 12 grandchildren.

(Financial Times) Do you want to carry on till you drop?
(John Bogle) "I’m trying to work shorter days. I don’t go into the office until 8.15 and I try to get home before 5. I’ve cut back on weekend work and travelling. I think I have an obligation to my family to take things easier."

Original source: Financial Times
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Conshohocken's CardioNet takes another shot at buying Biotel

CardioNet, a fast-growing player in the wireless medicine market, has reached an agreement to acquire the Minnesota-based maker of remote patient-monitoring systems, Biotel, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

An earlier merger agreement between the two companies fell through. This time around CardioNet will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Biotel for $11 million, or $3.84 per share.

Biotel has 45 employees; annual revenue for the year ended June 30 was $11 million. CardioNet, which has annual revenues of $130 million, trades on Nasdaq (ticker: BEAT). CardioNet is one of one of Biotel's largest customers.

Original source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune
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Dell gets on the cloud, buys Berwyn-based SaaS company Boomi

Dell announced it is acquiring Berwyn-based Boomi, a software-as-a-service firm that brings Dell closer to higher-margin IT services offered by competitors, reports Forbes.

Boomi is SaaS-based, meaning that its customers are billed based on actual usage rather than on periodic licensing fees. Its closest competitor in the cloud connecting business is a company called HubSpan, but the company also competes against Informatica, a publicly-traded company, and Cast Iron Systems, which IBM acquired last March.

Why Boomi? Ried, the Forrester analyst, offers one possibility in a report he wrote last December: “the deep understanding of legacy applications is missing among new startups and can be the basis for a value proposition of traditional vendors in the cloud.” Translation: A good product from a startup like Boomi might be a great product from a more traditional company like Dell.

Original source: Forbes
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Exton firm tackles Campbell Soup solar project in Ohio

A subsidiary of Exton-based BNB Renewable Energy will finance, develop and own a $21.6 million solar facility for Campbell Soup Co., reports the Toledo Blade.

State officials said Campbell plans to sign a 20-year power-purchase agreement to buy all the energy produced through the proposed facility, which would generate about 50 megawatts a year. One megawatt can provide power to about 1,000 households.

Original source: Toledo Blade
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Philly firm among startups charging the super grid

Philadelphia's Viridity Energy is among the startups at the GreenBeat 2010 conference working on a clean, self-healing energy network known as a super grid, reports VentureBeat.

Viridity works with customers to figure out how to curtail energy use and rely on off-grid generation when prices are high. The company’s software also “sells” energy usage reductions, energy storage and local generation capabilities back to utilities in wholesale power markets. Viridity Energy recently announced a project with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transport Authority to recycle the energy created when trains and trolleys brake at a high-use substation in Philadelphia.

Original source: VentureBeat
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Math course on environmental modeling leads to real-world solutions in Haverford Township

The Haverford Township Board of Commissioners recently recognized a pair of Bryan Mawr College students and their math professor for their work in helping the municipality get a $300,000 state grant to install a geothermal system.

"Thanks to Victor (Donnay) and his students’ assistance in obtaining this grant, the township will be able to reduce its carbon footprint; our investment will be paid off in about five years; and we will save over $2,000,000 in energy costs during the next 30 years," says Haverford Township Assistant Manager Tim Denny, who worked with Donnay and the students on the project.

(Katie) Link and (Yufang) Wang wrote the grant proposal as part of their summer research project applying mathematics to issues of sustainability.

This recognition is just the latest chapter in a collaboration that began last spring, when students from Donnay’s Mathematical Modeling in the Environment course joined with township officials to investigate environmentally friendly heating and cooling options for the soon-to-be built center.

Original source: Bryn Mawr Now
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Computerworld gets to know UPenn IT exec Robin Beck

University of Pennsylvania VP for information systems and computing Robin Beck relies on more than 300 employees to meet the computing needs of thousands, reports Computerworld.

Your department's goal is to provide "anytime, anywhere" access to information. What's the biggest challenge for an always-on IT shop? It's selecting the tools that help us to do that. It's the redundancy you have to build in, because after all, this is about technology, and failures can occur. And it's balancing those things with the cost of providing that always-on, anytime, anywhere. And [then] there's our mobile society. It all makes for interesting challenges for people who have to provide that infrastructure.

Original source: Computerworld
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BIO International Convention returns to Philadelphia for 2015

After a successful event in Philadelphia in 2005, the Biotechnology Industry Organiation announced its BIO International Conference will return for the 2015 edition, reports PharmaPro.

The Convention attracts more than 15,000 industry leaders from 48 states and 60 countries and highlights the latest advancements in biotechnology.

"Pennsylvania Bio is proud that Philadelphia has once again been chosen as the host city for the BIO International Convention," said Christopher Molineaux, president of Pennsylvania Bio.

"Pennsylvania has all of the assets that make us a global leader in the life sciences including world renowned research institutions; emerging and mature biotechnology, pharmaceutical, device, and diagnostic companies; global firms; and a strong network of supportive service companies.  Bringing this conference back to Philadelphia reaffirms our strengths and the region's commitment to this critical industry."

Original source: PharmaPro
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Pennsylvania No. 2 on solar jobs creation list

The National Solar Jobs Census ranks Pennsylvania, with 282 solar companies and 6,700 solar jobs, behind only national leader California in its survey, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

A large chunk of Pennsylvania’s calculation likely came from two southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturing projects--Solar Power Industries and Flabeg Corp.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which issues grants, loans and tax credits to projects meant to spur economic growth, Solar Power Industries promised to create 510 jobs on top of its existing 165 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Westmoreland County (inside the former Sony factory). Flabeg, which opened a 209,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Clinton Commerce Park last October, promised the DCED it would add another 300 jobs to its 85 existing positions.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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High-powered group launches new wealth managmenet firm in Philly suburbs, hiring

Based in Berwyn, Chester County, Merion Wealth Partners was launched this week and hopes to amass more than $1 billion of client assets in the next six months, reports ABC News.

Merion is an adviser-owned firm that kicks off with offices in Farmington, Connecticut; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and the Philadelphia suburb of Berwyn, Pennsylvania. The firm intends to attract registered investment advisors (RIAs) and "break away" brokers who wish to work as independents.

Chief Executive Paul Beideman said Merion is "actively recruiting" advisors with wealthy clients either as regional partners, affiliates or through an acquisition.

Original source: ABC News
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PA set to receive $29M for small business loans

Pennsylvania's cut of the US Treasury's $15 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative is close to $30 million, reports Pittsburgh Business Times.

Under the SSBCI, states are offered the opportunity to apply for federal funds for programs that partner with private lenders to extend greater credit to small businesses. They are required to demonstrate a minimum “bang for the buck” of $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. Pennsylvania’s allocation is $29,241,232. That is expected to generate $292.4 million in new loans.

The funding is part of an incentive package signed into law by President Barack Obama Sept. 27, which also included restoration of many Small Business Administration programs that expired earlier this year.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Keystone Innovation Zone fueling research in Delco

The Keystone Innovation Zone in Delaware County, part of a statewide network of areas fostering the potential of intellectual capital, is having a big impact on human health, reports the Delaware County Times.

“The companies employ well-educated and trained professionals, often times with well-established academic and research credentials and experience, and provide high-paying jobs often times well above average per capita income,” (Delaware County KIZ coordinator John) Dixon said.

In addition to their economic impacts, these companies are also generators of pioneering discoveries in their own particular fields, he said.

“Life sciences-related companies generate patents, licenses and commercialize technologies that lead to creation and manufacture of high-end products,” Dixon said. “Within the Delaware County KIZ, our life-sciences companies account for the majority of new patents and revenue and contribute to the Greater Philadelphia region’s transformation into the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.”

Original source: Delaware County Times
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Air Products exec calls bid for Airgas 'attractive'

Bloomberg brings us up to date on the ongoing attempt of Allentown-based Air Products to acquire in-state rival Airgas of Radnor.

Air Products is the second-biggest U.S. industrial-gases producer behind Praxair Inc. Air Products wants to purchase Airgas to reacquire a "packaged-gas" business the company sold to its rival in 2002, (Air Products CFO Paul) Huck testified.

Air Products has raised its bid twice from the original $60 a share, and “$65.50 is not our best and final offer,” Huck said. The company has a ‘reserve price” it will pay, which is being kept confidential, Huck said.

Original source: Bloomberg
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Warburg Pincus to buy $150M stake in National Penn Bancshares

National Penn Bancshares got a $150 million boost from Warburg Pincus on Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The private-equity firm has been looking to make investments in struggling banks amid hopes to benefit from potential rebounds.

National Penn President and Chief Executive Scott V. Fainor said the move will help the 127-branch Pennsylvania bank speed its ability to repay the $150 million of aid it received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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UPenn study: Computerized physician drug system has unintended consequences

The University of Pennsylvania's study of a system that could prevent doctors from prescribing a potentially harmful drug combination found it delayed treatment in instances where use of both drugs was appropriate, reports the Wall Street Journal.

It “worked extremely well, but putting it in place actually hurt people,” Brian Strom, a professor of public health and preventive medicine in biostatistics and epidemiology at the U. Penn School of Medicine, tells the Health Blog.

Strom says the takeaway from the study isn’t that computerized physician order entry system (CPOE), isn’t effective. “Personally, I think it makes enormous sense,” he says. “But it’s naive to think that CPOE 1.0 is going to be perfect.” He says implementing such a system is an ongoing process, and requires evaluation--not just of whether software works, but of how it affects patient health--at every step.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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How Philadelphia's Navy Yard could lead the way in energy efficiency

Penn State vice president of research and graduate school dean Hank Foley talks about the $129 million grant his school earned to make the Philadelphia Navy Yard a national model for energy efficiency, reports Smart Planet.

We have four main tasks. The tasks will involve the retrofit. They’ll also involve the simulation and model building that can be used out in the field. We’ll be testing and implementing things that have already been developed, but bringing them together and doing the science around further development. We also have a task focused on policy. There have to be governmental policies that incentivize the use of some of these materials and technologies because they’ll be costly. They’ll be more costly than what we do right now. The last task is workforce development. We need to help builders doing construction, architects, (understand) how you do this stuff, how it’ll work, how you get the technology.

Original source: Smart Planet
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Development officials aim to boost PA economy through technology

From the Philadelphia Navy Yard to the Innovation Center of Wilkes-Barre, federal money is helping technology development improve regional economies in Pennsyvlania, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

(Brian) McGowan, who is chief operating officer of the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, was in Pittsburgh for the annual conference of the State Science & Technology Institute, a group representing state economic development officials.

The Economic Development Administration on Tuesday gave the institute a $480,000 grant to copy successful regional economic development programs in other regions of the country. Mr. McGowan cited Pennsylvania's Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority as an example of a program that would help promote job growth in other regions.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Delaware Valley College set to receive $30M gift

Doylestown private institution Delaware Valley College expects to receive a gift of land, endowment money and cash totaling $29.8 million from a Bucks County family foundation, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The donation, from the Warwick Foundation of Bucks County, includes an apple orchard among 400 acres of farmland located about a 15-minute drive from the campus and valued at $14.8-million. The college plans to use the farm for its agricultural program and other educational purposes, and to call it the Gemmill Campus, after the creators of the foundation, who are both now deceased. The land comes with a $10-million endowment to operate the new campus, but the college would forfeit that money if it sold the land in the near future, (college president Joseph) Brosnan said. After 25 years, the endowment money will become the university's permanently.

Original soruce: Chronicle of Higher Education
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Billion-dollar company moving HQ to Greater Philadelphia

Gardner Denver Inc., which has operated in Illinois since its founding 151 years ago and makes air compressors, pumps and blowers, is moving its headquarters to Greater Philadelphia, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gardner Denver chief executive officer Barry L. Pennypacker  said in a statement that the board of directors had concluded that relocating to a major metropolitan area was "necessary" for long-term growth. The company, which generated 68 percent of its $1.78 billion in 2009 revenue from outside the United States, needs to improve accessibility to its global customers and foreign operations, he said.

Tom Morr, president and CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia, will take a win any day he can. His group markets the region as a good place to do business and was involved with the Pennsylvania Governor's Action Team, the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Team Pennsylvania Foundation in attracting Gardner Denver.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Keystone Edge parent company IMG among Inc. 5000's fastest growing media outfits

Boasting three-year growth of 170 percent, the Michigan-based parent company of Keystone Edge, Issue Media Group, was ranked No. 22 in the media category and No. 1672 overall in the recently released Inc. 5000 list of the nation's fastest-growing companies.

Issue Media Group develops web magazines about local communities that report on development, creative people and businesses, vibrant neighborhoods, and popular places to live, eat, shop, work, and play.

Original source: Inc.
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Unisys among those bullish on federal ID tech market

Unisys, which bases its U.S. operations in Pennsylvania,  is working on integrating multiple biometric technologies, including systems that can recognize irises, reports the Washington Post.

The company has contracted with multiple airports in the past to provide security systems that include ID programs. For instance, Unisys is working with the Los Angeles airport system as well as the Barcelona system.

Original source: Washington Post

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Western Montgomery Career and Technical Center starts school year in high-tech renovation

After a $36.7 million renovation, Western Montgomery Career and Technology students return to high-tech classrooms and learning centers, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Students coming back to other newly renovated high schools might typically rave about a new chemistry lab or a spacious gym. At Western Montgomery, they are excited about the new alignment system, the 10 shining hydraulic-auto lifts, the high-tech paint booth, the new 80-seat "restaurant" in which culinary students will be serving food to community residents, and the cosmetology wing, which looks like a beauty salon instead of a classroom.

After all, if the equipment they work with is similar to what they would use on the job, students might have an added advantage in landing work.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly's B Lab and benefit corporations catch on in Houston

Philadelphia-based B Lab, which is spreading the benefit corporation gospel by certifying companies as socially and environmentally responsible, is gaining momentum in Texas, reports CultureMap.

Hardik Savalia, who works at a non-profit that was founded to address this dichotomy, tells CultureMap "the infrastructure is preventing these companies from succeeding. Fundamentally, as a business owner, your one duty is to maximize shareholder value. It makes it difficult to move on, sell your shares and maintain the social characteristics."

So nearly four years ago, his company, B Lab, was founded. B Lab is a non-profit that rates companies on 180 factors of do-gooded-ness, from transparency to employee benefits to sustainability, and expands their legal obligations (with the help of three global law firms) to include stakeholders. Significantly, its three founders did not have non-profit backgrounds.

Original source: CultureMap

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Clean Technology Resource Center established for PA small businesses

A Clean Technology Resource Center will provide business management assistance for small businesses throughout Pennsylvania who are developing new clean energy technology or use renewable energy sources, reports NorthCentralPA.com.

Services include evaluating market opportunities, developing business plans, sourcing material and securing financing, including funds available through Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

"Demand for clean technology is driving the growth of an emerging global industry sector," Christian Conroy, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC, said. "The Clean Technology Resource Center underscores the SBDC's commitment to help small firms compete by harnessing the enormous potential of technologies that will position Pennsylvania as a leader in technology development."

Original source: NorthCentralPa.com

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UPenn leading the way on cooling therapy

Cooling therapy--the concept of lowering core temperature by six degrees to protect brain function during cardiac arrest--is catching on in hospitals across the country and the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Resuscitation Science is leading the way, Reuters reports.

The vast majority of the 300,000 Americans who suffer cardiac arrest every year die. Despite massive investments in research and technology, fewer than eight in 100 leave the hospital alive, a rate that has remained stagnant for almost 30 years. Even if the heart is restarted, only a minority make it. And of those who do, many end up in nursing homes with crippling brain injury.

Doctors say those statistics could change, however, if more people had access to a procedure called therapeutic hypothermia--cooling the body. As medical procedures go, it's among the simplest: Chill the patient about six degrees Fahrenheit--using cold intravenous saline, cooling blankets or ice packs--and wait 24 hours; then re-warm the patient slowly and cross your fingers.

Original Source: Reuters

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Southeastern PA receives stimulus funds to battle hospital-acquired infections

Southeastern PA health care professionals are expanding a program that helps combat hospital-acquired infection through a $100,000 stimulus grant announced this week, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

The collaborative is open--at no cost--to hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care facilities in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill counties. The collaborative builds on a regional CDI prevention effort launched by the foundation in 2009 and funded by Independence Blue Cross and southeastern Pennsylvania hospitals through their Partnership for Patient Care program.

The goal of the initiative, which will promote the adoption by health-care providers of evidence-based infection prevention strategies, is to achieve an overall 30 percent reduction in health care-associated clostridium difficile infections at participating organizations.

Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

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Robots perform surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital

For certain procedures, Pennsylvania Hospital surgeons are working with a robotic mechanism, watching on a screen and moving their instruments using hand controls and foot pedals, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

In traditional surgery, the patient is cut open, and doctors use their eyes and sometimes magnifying devices to see and their hands to operate. Laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery was a major advance because it could be done with a small incision: a laparoscope and surgical instruments were inserted, and the image on a monitor allowed the doctors to control the instruments in their hands from outside the body.

In laparoscopic robotic surgery, the surgeon is farther removed from the patient. A 3-D camera and machine-held surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions. The surgeon operates while seated at a console nearby. There, the doctor, peering into a monitor that displays a three-dimensional image, manipulates the instruments and camera using hand controls and foot pedals.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Penn State-led research consortium wins $129M to develop energy innovation hub in Philly's Navy Yard

A research consortium led by Penn State received a highly competitive grant this week for up to $129 million to develop an "energy innovation hub" at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Foley, who will lead the Penn State research team also including researchers from Princeton, Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and other institutions, said the project will focus on creating more energy efficient buildings and training workers to both retrofit and do new construction in the efficient ways.

The grant, to be paid out over the next five years, is the largest in Penn State's history. It largely comes from the Department of Energy with $7 million from three other federal agencies.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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UPenn software program helps determine future criminal activity

Using a complex algorithm that examines different markers of future criminal behavior, a University of Pennsylvania-developed software program is helping parole officers in Philadelphia and Baltimore determine probation sentences, Discovery News reports.

Beginning several years ago, the researchers assembled a dataset of more than 60,000 various crimes, including homicides. Using an algorithm they developed, they found a subset of people much more likely to commit homicide when paroled or probated. Instead of finding one murderer in 100, the UPenn researchers could identify eight future murderers out of 100.

Berk's software examines roughly two dozen variables, from criminal record to geographic location. The type of crime, and more importantly, the age at which that crime was committed, were two of the most predictive variables.

Original Source: Discovery News

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PA to receive $1 billion in Medicaid and education funding

As part of a $26 billion effort President Obama recently approved, Pennsylvania will receive $668 million to help pay for Medicaid and $387.8 million to save K-12 education jobs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The federal education jobs money is expected to save about 161,000 education jobs nationwide, including about 5,900 in Pennsylvania. The money is designated for only compensation of teachers and other staff at the school level, not central administrator pay, facilities or other expenses. States will have to show that they are maintaining their effort to fund education to qualify for the money.

Original Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Butter believe it: Philly's Black Gold Biofuels turns creamy sculpture into biodiesel

Using massive butter sculptures from the annual Pennsylvania farm show, the USDA partnered with Philadelphia's Black Gold Biofuels to repurpose the butter as biodiesel, the New York Times reports.
The impetus was an 800-pound sculpture of Benjamin Franklin  and the Liberty Bell. Each year the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in Harrisburg, commissions a masterpiece made out of butter. In 2007, the organizers solicited suggestions for what to do with the work after the farm show ended.

Dr. Haas submitted the idea of making biodiesel fuel out of it, and that is what was done. “It had never been reported in the scientific literature,” he said.

Original Source: The New York Times

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Many PA colleges post high in U.S. News rankings

Claiming the No. 5 spot overall, the University of Pennsylvania led a host of colleges from across the state that ranked high on the annual rankings from U.S. News and World Report, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Swarthmore is again No. 3 among liberal-arts colleges, behind Williams and Amherst, while Haverford tied for No. 9, according to the report, released Tuesday. Villanova was again No. 1 in the Northeast among "regional universities," defined as having "a full range of undergrad programs and some master's programs, but few doctoral programs."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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New PA healthcare plan aids patients with preexisting conditions

Pennsylvania joins a group of 29 states this week offering a health plan to cover those with preexisting medical conditions before the national mandate goes into effect in 2014, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The federal government has allocated $5 billion to pay for the efforts, including $160 million in Pennsylvania, $141 million in New Jersey, and $13 million in Delaware.

"Full federal health reform is still three years away," Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario said in a statement. "In the meantime, we are doing everything we can for Pennsylvanians to have access to affordable, quality health care."

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pittsburgh educational nonprofit lands $22M grant for STEM

The Pittsburgh science education non-profit ASSET Inc. will receive $22.3 million in federal funding to improve STEM education statewide, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The South Side-based nonprofit is one of two Pennsylvania education organizations--including Children's Learning Initiative of Philadelphia--that were awarded the federal government's highly competitive Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3, grants to build upon programs that have shown evidence of success in education achievement, officials said.

The i3 fund, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program, was developed to support local efforts to start or expand innovative, research-based programs with demonstrated success in helping close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students, officials said.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA grocery store wine kiosk tests said to go well

Pennsylvania officials say testing of wine vending kiosks has exceeded expectations and almost 100 more machines would be approved soon, reports Business Week.

The main issues that have arisen are a need to improve a door seal and figure out how to deal with power surges and outages from passing thunderstorms, he said.

The test period has suggested that kiosks located well inside stores will produce better sales, but for practical reasons some supermarkets will have to put them at entrances, he said.

Original source: Associated Press
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Verizon increases presence, employment in West Chester with completion of renovation project

Verizon announced the completion of its West Chester office renovation and the move of 68 jobs to the region this week, the Main Line Media News is reporting.
The center in the 400 block of South High Street now has 90 Verizon employees working in it, up from 22 before November's move that brought workers from an office on Arch Street in Philadelphia to the borough.

"We went through a process of, 'where do we want to go to get out of a lease situation?'" said Tom Durkin, manager of customer financial services. "We had a presence here and it's a great environment, so we chose West Chester" in a building that Verizon owns.
Original Source: Main Line Media News
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Study: Foreign doctors give equal care as U.S. physicians

According to a study published this week by the Philadelphia's Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, foreign-born, foreign-educated doctors are equally competent as U.S. trained physicians, the New York Times reports. 

Dr. Norcini said there had been concern about the competence of foreign-trained doctors, based in part on reports in the 1990s of lower test scores and performance ratings. But his study noted that “by the mid-1990s, international medical graduates were outperforming U.S. graduates” on tests in internal medicine.

The researchers set out to evaluate doctors by assessing the health of their patients. They analyzed records from 244,153 hospitalizations in Pennsylvania from 2003-06. All the patients had congestive heart failure or had suffered heart attacks, conditions that are considered a good gauge of the quality of medical care.

Original Source: The New York Times

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UPenn professor to create education entrepreneurship incubator

A University of Pennsylvania professor has announced plans to create a business incubator for education inventors interested in bringing technology to American classrooms, the Associated Press reports.

"Here's this (market) that is huge, that is really important, that needs innovation, and there's just nothing out there to sort of foster it," said Doug Lynch, vice dean of Penn's Graduate School of Education. "Let's create a Silicon Valley around education."

K-12 schools and degree-granting institutions spend more than $1 trillion on education annually, federal statistics show. That represents immense potential for entrepreneurs - if they can resist the lure of more established tech firms and trendier ventures like social networks.

Original Source: Associated Press

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Shipping industry giants vie for control of South Philadelphia port terminal

Two of the world's largest shipping firms began bidding for control of development at the South Philadelphia port terminal this week, as the port hopes to announce the winning bidder in October, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

The state is expected to pick a single bidder in October to build a port facility that officials hope will bring new jobs and millions of dollars in business to the Philadelphia waterfront.

"These companies that have expressed interest in Southport have solid track records in terminal development," Gov. Rendell said in naming the two bidders late Friday.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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NYT: Researchers believe they can predict human decision-making

A University of Pennsylvania research project has determined the neural basis for decision-making in monkeys and they believe the research will allow them to predict human behavior through brain scans, the New York Times reports.
The implications are immediate. If researchers can in theory predict what human beings will decide before they themselves know it, what is left of the notion of human freedom? How can we say that humans are free in any meaningful way if others can know what their decisions will be before they themselves make them?

Research of this sort can seem frightening. An experiment that demonstrated the illusory nature of human freedom would, in many people’s mind, rob the test subjects of something essential to their humanity.
Original Source: The New York Times
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Interest grows in training grants for life sciences companies

The Norristown-based Life Science Career Alliance is promoting job training grants for companies working in the sector throughout the region, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

This spring, according to Colleen Hamilton, executive director of the alliance, the Montgomery County Department of Workforce and Economic Development was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for an on-the job training grant program open to bioscience companies in the five-county region.

The on-the-job training grant program allows employers to receive a maximum of $3,600 per individual during a defined onboard/training period--no longer than six months--immediately following a hire.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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UPenn Alzheimer's research tackles old disease new ways

While colleagues are focused on the more common brain compound amyloid, one University of Pennsylvania research team is examining a secondary Alzheimer's compound with the help of a $1.5 million robot, The New York Times reports.
Amyloid and plaque are easier to track. There are new scans that show plaque in the brain, while scans for tau, which forms spaghetti-like tangles inside dying nerve cells, are in much earlier stages of development.

But while nearly everyone is now focused on amyloid, a few, like Dr. John Q. Trojanowski and Dr. Virginia M.Y. Lee of the University of Pennsylvania, have made studying tau their life’s mission. They even have a drug-discovery program, and a $1.5 million robot to help. So far, after a decade of work, they say they have a few promising compounds but nothing has been tested in people.
Original Source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia launches speed dating for solar powered citizens

Already boasting some of the most favorable solar incentives in the country, Pennsylvania announced a partnership and group-rate discount program with One Block off the Grid, a for-profit solar company that helps interested buyers find an installer, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting.

Consider it matchmaking for the solar-inhibited--with a chance to save some money. But you'll have to hurry. There's an element of speed-dating involved.

The solar-inclined have three months to sign up for a 15 percent discount on a system and free educational advice through the latest phase of a program being rolled out across the country by One Block Off the Grid, a for-profit San Francisco broker. 

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Pittsburgh and Philly win coveted bids to host Frozen Four

Pittsburgh and Philly won coveted bids to host the NCAA men's ice hockey championships in 2013 and 2014, respectively, reports College Hockey News.

Pittsburgh's Frozen Four will be in its new arena, the Consol Energy Center, which is near completion and scheduled to be opened this August. The Pittsburgh Penguins have played their games in Mellon Arena (a.k.a. 'The Igloo') for decades.

Philadelphia's will be held in the Wells Fargo Center, which first opened as the Core States Center in 1996, when its first hockey events were hosting some games during the World Cup of Hockey. It was known as the Wachovia Center until last month. Unlike most other venues that have hosted the Frozen Four, the Wachovia Center is not close to downtown Philadelphia.

Original source: College Hockey News
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Participating wineries now top 60 for the great PA wine toast

More than five dozen Pennsylvania wineries are on board for the state winery association's attempt at breaking a Guinness Book of World Records mark for largest toast/tasting, reports the Patriot-News.

Given the record, the toast has about as much chance of breaking the record as the Pittsburgh Pirates (or Phillies, at the rate they're going) have making the playoffs this year. But, frankly, no one will remember whether the record is set. The pubicity generated figures to spread nationally, and that's truly the mark by which this endeavor will be judged.
Association spokeswoman Jennifer Eckinger said Monday that wineries will be telling visitors to report by 3:30 that afternoon, and that the toast itself likely will take place at 4:15. Andretti will tape the reading of the winning toast; you can vote for your favorite among the five finalists here.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Legal trade pub gets the scoop on PA innovation through eyes of Pittsburgh lawyer

Metropolitan Corporate Counsel interviewed Laura Ellsworth, the managing partner law firm Jones Day's Pittsburgh office, who talked about innovation throughout the state.

Editor: You mention the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon; I imagine Pennsylvania's universities contribute to the innovative climate.

Ellsworth: Pennsylvania recently was ranked as one of the top ten smartest states in the U.S., and Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of colleges and universities in the nation per capita - making for a very highly educated workforce. Penn State is a national leader in green energy, optics and laser technology. The Wharton School in Philadelphia is ranked our nation's top business school. Carnegie Mellon tops national lists in things as diverse as engineering and theater. I could go on and on. I think one of the other benefits of a robust university community is that it draws students from all over the world, creating not only an educated but also a very diverse workforce.

Original source: Metropolitan Corporate Counsel
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Pennsylvania awards $18m for 24MW of solar projects

Pennsylvania's solar energy program awarded $18 million that will support 37 projects, installing 24 megawatts of generating capacity statewide, reports BrighterEnergy.
The funded solar projects are forecast to generate at least 26,600 megawatt-hours of electricity each year--enough for around 2,700 Pennsylvania homes.
The systems are expected to save $5.2 million a year in energy costs over the next 20 years.
Among the projects awarded funding, an $8.6 million solar photovoltaic array planned for a senior housing community in East Whiteland will receive a $2.7 million grant. The 1.8MW ground-mounted facility will generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year, saving $286,000 in energy costs each year.
Original source: Brighter Energy
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Penn Medicine opens Tredyffrin outpatient facility

Penn Medicine opened their new facility in Tredyffrin township that organizers say will help doctors more easily collaborate on outpatient treatments, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

    The $30 million, 90,000-square-foot building near Routes 202 and 252--Penn Medicine at Valley 
    Forge--will eventually house 60 doctors as well as radiology and laboratory services.

    Ronald Barg, executive director of Clinical Care Associates, which runs the University of 
    Pennsylvania Health System's outpatient network, said the new building features an open office 
    design that is expected to foster collaboration among doctors. The doctors will share support 
    staff, who will be able to schedule and coordinate appointments, and all doctors will have access 
    to the same electronic medical records.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Travel Channel samples German fare in Pottstown

The Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern visited the Pottstown area with his show "Bizarre Foods" to sample local German fare, the Pottstown Mercury reports.
Zimmern arrived at the national historic site on Colonial Road in a horse-drawn wagon, signifying his visit back in time to savor a sampling of traditional Pennsylvania German fare--stuffed pig's stomach, fried eel, "zitterli" or souse, and "yudda kasha" or ground cherry pie.

Traveling around the globe to taste the culinary specialties of each culture, Zimmern has visited more than 68 countries, eating everything from sautéed fruit bats to dung beetles to roasted sheep brains.
Original Source: Pottstown Mercury
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Philadelphia's CDI merges with Ebensburg's L.R. Kimball

Philadelphia's CDI merged with Ebensburg's L.R. Kimball to combine engineering and architecture and allow Kimball to serve national and global clients, the Altoona Mirror reports.

L.R. Kimball was not looking for a partner, buyer or acquisition when CDI officials approached the family leadership about nine months ago, Kimball Chief Marketing Officer Roger Zwingler said.

"They were looking for a company to fill a void in their operation. They did not offer the kind of services we offer and had to send customers to other companies," he said. CDI has a culture and level of business ethics in treating people the right way that is similar to L.R. Kimball, making it a very good fit, Zwingler said.

Original Source: Altoona Mirror

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New study offers tips for community farmers

A study of Farmers Markets finds that many small town farmers are traveling to urban areas to sell their wares, Salon.com reports.
According to the latest report by the USDA, the number of markets in the country tripled since the mid-1990s. They're being touted as the panacea for everything from the obesity epidemic to the exploitation of farmers by big-chain supermarkets. Locavores love them. Environmentalists adore them. Raw foodies can't do without them.
Linda Aleci, a historian and co-founder of the Local Economy Center at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, undertook a three-year study of the farmers' market in her city. Her findings suggested that the local farmers' market -- serving a poor, food-insecure community -- was suffering from the growth of markets in the Philadelphia metro region and in Lancaster County. Salon spoke to her to find out more.
Original Source: Salon.com
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Philadelphia's Microsoft 'School of the Future' graduates first class

The opening of the technologically advanced 'School of the Future' made national news in 2006 and, despite many issues, its flagship class graduated this week, CNN reports.

The majority-minority $63 million school was erected with school district funds in the tough Parkside neighborhood in West Philadelphia.

The school partnered with Microsoft on new approaches to curriculum, teaching methods and staffing. The school is made up of students chosen by a lottery of public school students, with the majority of them coming from low-income households with limited access to technology and training.

Original Source: CNN

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UPenn program would pay patients for taking their medication

A new, controversial University of Pennsylvania project would pay uncooperative patients for taking blood clot medication to avoid the cost of further treatment.

In a Philadelphia program people prescribed warfarin, an anti-blood-clot medication, can win $10 or $100 each day they take the drug--a kind of lottery using a computerized pillbox to record if they took the medicine and whether they won that day.

Before the program, Chiquita Parker, a 25-year-old single mother with lupus, too ill to continue her job with special needs children, repeatedly made medication mistakes, although she knows she depends on warfarin to prevent clots than can cause strokes, paralysis, or death.

Original Source: The New York Times

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Chesco firm to study Marcellus Shale wastewater treatment

Advanced GeoServices Corp., based in West Chester, received approval from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a treatment process developed at Lehigh University for water used in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, reports the Daily Times.

Matthew DeMarco, the project leader for Advanced GeoServices, said the technology the company is working on wouldn’t prevent a well blowout but it would address the water treatment concerns of environmentalists.

The new treatment technology was developed by Lehigh researchers Arup SenGupta and Sudipta Sarkar.

It treats flow-back wastewater generated by the hydro-fracturing process, often referred to as frac water, and the water generated during ongoing gas production activity.

Original source: Daily Times
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Higher Ed leaders consider "course sharing" at state universities

Language and Physics are considered as possible 'share courses' that students of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions could take online from other universities besides their own, reports the Associated Press.

A report to be presented to the faculty union Monday in Harrisburg is expected to include recommendations for "shared programs" in foreign languages and physics, according to officials such as Karen Ball, vice chancellor for external relations for the State System of Higher Education.

Officials said the pilot programs could use software that enables distance learning. The proposal stems from a review of undergraduate and graduate programs that have low enrollments on individual campuses.

Original Source: The Associated Press

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Pottstown pushes for infrastructure investment

A Pottstown citizen's group is pressing Harrisburg and Washington for infrastructure dollars that will improve quality of life for Pa.'s suburban residents and create jobs, reports the Pottstown Mercury
The meeting was called by the First Suburbs advocacy group that is pressing Harrisburg and Washington to start devoting attention, and tax dollars to the places this country's citizens have called home the longest.

Paravis--a vocal advocate for driving development dollars into Pottstown as a way of preserving the greenspace that surrounds it and a co-founder of the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee--was among the featured speakers Thursday.
Original Source: Pottstown Mercury
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More PA Jobs will require Higher Education, study shows

A new study shows that PA is going to see a jump in employment but that an increasing number of jobs will require secondary education, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Between 2008 and 2018, employment is expected to increase by 15.3 million, according to projections by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coming after a recession that destroyed 8 million jobs, that sounds encouraging.

But a different forecast being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that there is a growing disconnect between the types of jobs that employers must fill and the number of Americans with the education and training to do them.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center opens Entrepreneur Wing

Bucks County's Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center announced the opening of the $1.4 million Entrepreneur Wing at its Buckingham Complex this week.

The 5,000-square-foot addition was created by converting unused space in the back of the center, which was formerly used as a printing and distribution warehouse for D.A. Lewis.

The project was funded primarily by Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research, the research arm of the Hepatitis B Foundation, both of which are based in--and helped establish--the center. The center also received a $200,000 state of Pennsylvania Keystone Innovation Zone grant that was used to create teaching lab space in the wing.

Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

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UPenn researchers discover trend in acute care hospitalization

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered a trend in long-term acute care hospitalization of the elderly after they have been treated for a clinical illness, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Researchers analyzed Medicare data from 1997 to 2006. During that time, the number of long-term acute care hospitals doubled from 192 to 408, the percentage of Medicare patients who were transferred to a long-term acute care hospital after a critical illness tripled from 0.7 percent of patients to 2.5 percent of patients, total associated costs increased from $484 million to $1.325 billion, and the one-year survival for these patients was poor.

"Over time, transferred patients had higher numbers of [co-existing illnesses] [5.0 in 1997-2000 versus 5.8 in 2004-2006] and were more likely to receive mechanical ventilation at the long-term acute care hospital [16.4 percent in 1997-2000 vs. 29.8 percent in 2004-2006]," wrote study author Dr. Jeremy M. Kahn, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues.

Original Source: Bloomberg Business Week

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Philadelphia company attempts to bring solar leasing to PA

A Philadelphia-based company is attempting to take solar in a new direction, reducing initial costs through solar leasing, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The latest effort is by partners experienced in solar leasing. Middle Atlantic Solar Leasing L.P. is the creation of Gemstone Group Inc., a renewable-energy investment-banking firm in Wayne, and AFC First Financial Corp. in Allentown.

Homeowners and small businesses would be able to forgo the significant upfront costs associated with buying a solar-energy system--typically $20,000 to $30,000 for an average home--and instead make monthly payments of about $120 over the 15-year life of the standard lease.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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UPenn engineer creates virtual Afghani village for U.S. Government

A U.S. government agency approached a University of Pennsylvania engineer to create a virtual mock-up of an Afghani village, the Boston Globe is reporting.

The program, which loosely resembles the game SimCity, is part of a US government effort to develop sophisticated computer models of real Afghan villages--complete with virtual people based on actual inhabitants--in an attempt to predict their reaction to US raids and humanitarian aid.

The project, spearheaded by a University of Pennsylvania engineer at the behest of an undisclosed US government agency, straddles the line between research and intelligence as part of a wider US effort to design software capable of forecasting human behavior in war zones.

Original Source: Boston Globe

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Human-powered 'Pedi-cabs' hit Philadelphia streets

Recumbent tricycle taxis hit the streets of Philadelphia this week for a three-month test period, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

After years of planning and waiting for legislative permission, Philadelphia's pedicabs finally hit the streets Saturday.

"Here's the green job sector of Philadelphia," said Sean Leahy, 22, freshly graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in environmental science. He was the first of four drivers who took passengers for their maiden voyages on the canopied Velo-Park pedicabs. He plans to do the work full time until September, when this summer's test season ends.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Three Governors press FCC to approve Comcast-NBC deal

Three high-profile governors came to the defense of Comcast and NBC this week, calling for the FCC to allow their proposed merger.
The governors of three large states are urging federal regulators to let Comcast Corp. proceed with its plan to buy a controlling stake in NBC Universal for $13.75 billion.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Governors David Paterson of New York, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania say that "the significant benefits associated with the creation of this new joint venture far outweigh any potential harms."
Original Source: MSNBC
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Mayor Nutter announces $2M in funding for Philadelphia small business development

Mayor Michael Nutter announced $2M in small business development funding for the city of Philadelphia this week.

The funding was awarded through three programs-- the Targeted Corridor Management Program, the Business Technical Assistance Program and the ReStore Retail Incentive Grant Program--and is part of $72 million being invested by the city aimed at spurring economic development.

The Restore Retail Incentive Grant program, launched last year, committed $925,000 to 23 new or expanding businesses in 2009 that leveraged $4.1 million of private investment and created an estimated 56 construction jobs and an estimated 237 new retail jobs.

Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Google releases economic impact report, claims over $1B in PA

Google released its economic impact report this week and claims to have produced $1 billion in economic impact for Pennsylvania.
The search engine giant generated the figures in the report by examining the number of businesses, website publishers and nonprofits using its search and advertising tools.

Conshohocken life sciences firm applies for IPO

NuPathe Inc. has applied for IPO funding with the SEC for their creation of a patch that eases migraine pain, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The specialty pharmaceutical company, which had 21 employees as of April 30, has been working on Zelrix, a single-use skin patch to treat migraines.

In its SEC filing, NuPathe said it completed a late-stage Phase III clinical trial in July 2009 of Zelrix, which would be a new way of administering sumatriptan, a widely prescribed migraine medicine. The company expects to submit a new-drug application with the Food and Drug Administration in the fourth quarter of this year.
Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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New head of Pennsylvania Bio has big shoes to fill

An industry trade group, Pennsylvania Bio, has elected a new chief, who replaces the most successful chief in the group's history, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Christopher Molineaux, who took over the helm of Pennsylvania Bio on May 1, is well aware he has big shoes to fill.

Last year, Molineaux left his job as vice president of pharmaceutical communication and public affairs for Johnson & Johnson to come to Pennsylvania Bio. He joined the organization as a senior vice president and the lead potential successor to Flynn.
Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Lonza to buy Moda Technology of Wayne

Wayne's mobile data company Moda has been purchased by Swiss pharmaceutical supplier Lonza, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Lonza implemented Moda’s paperless environmental-monitoring system for its plant in Walkersville, Md., and now plans to deploy Moda’s technology at all its plants.

Moda’s investors include Bala Cynwyd-based Osage Ventures; Audubon-based NextStage Capital; and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, an economic-development nonprofit that is based in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and funded by the state of Pennsylvania.

Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

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Bob Casey joins group fighting for Venture Capital tax exemption

Five senators, including PA's Bob Casey, are fighting to make venture capital firms exempt from investment manager taxes, Bloomberg reports.

Brown, along with Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Mark Warner of Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, said subjecting venture firms to higher tax rates on so-called carried interest would hurt job creation and “could not occur at a worse time.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is considering adding the proposed higher tax rate on carried interest to broader legislation. Carried interest is the profit share paid to managing partners of firms as part of their pay. That share, which lawmakers say is payment for services, currently can qualify for long-term capital gains rates of 15 percent.

Original Source: Bloomberg News

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Virgin Green Fund to partner with King of Prussia water filtration firm

Quench, a King of Prussia water filtration company has partnered with the Virgin Green Fund to reduce plastic waste in offices, the New York Times reports.

Quench water systems are better for the environment because they do not require trucks to crisscross cities and deliver jugs, and they alleviate health concerns about drinking water that has been exposed to plastic for long periods, said Dan Kuzmak, its chief executive.

“We think water is the next oil, that it is the most underpriced asset on the face of the planet,” said Shai Weiss, a Virgin partner. Virgin Green Fund led a $13 million investment in the company.

Original Source: New York Times

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Biotech and Life Sciences still job growth king in PA

A report, released this week during the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention in Chicago, states that PA biotech and life sciences industries rank among the largest in the nation, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.
The Battelle/BIO State BioScience Initiatives report found Pennsylvania ranked third in biosciences-related jobs with 40,070 in 2008, while New Jersey was eighth with 22,540.

“Not every biotech company made it through the storm,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, an industry trade group based in Washington. “Fifty publicly traded companies went bankrupt for lack of access to capital. But there is much good news. Biotech stocks outperformed virtually every other index in the first quarter of this year. The markets have come back, but biotech has come back faster and stronger.”

Citizens' Parent to spend $500M on technology, hiring

In a bid to strengthen its position in the Mid-Atlantic states, the parent of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania  is spending $500 million on technology and hiring, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Alemany said the $500 million in technology investment would include new systems for tellers and for managing commercial loans and home mortgages, as well as enhancements to cash-management and online-banking systems.

The planned hiring of 100 mortgage lenders this year comes on top of 140 mortgage lenders hired since last year. The plan is to add 475 mortgage bankers over three years, Alemany said.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Way To Work Program to provide 20,000 jobs

A new subsidized employment program is expected to provide jobs for about 20,000 people this summer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The Pennsylvania Way to Work program is expected to use federal emergency funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pay for the jobs through September for adults as well as youths, according to an announcement today by the State Departments of Labor and of Public Welfare.

Pennsylvania's local Workforce Investment Boards are already reaching out to employers to determine the number of jobs that will be available when the program begins, the state said.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Tastycake moves to new South Philly digs

Tastycake has moved operations to a new, 350,000 sq. ft., LEED-certified facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard this week, FOX29 is reporting.

Company Vice President Autumn Bayles explained the building is one story which will make the flow much easier. 4.3-million cakes, pies, cookies, and donuts are made at the plant everyday.

A glass mezzanine was built above the baking area so tour groups can visit.

Bayles vows everything will taste the same even though everything is being made in a new facility. The company did a lot of testing and no one could tell a difference.

Original Source: FOX29

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Philly Newspapers tap former Newsweek publisher

After majority lenders bought the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News from former head Brian Tierney last week, the group has named former Newsweek publisher Greg Osberg to head operations. Osberg pledged to preserve jobs at the storied Philadelphia institution, the Associated Press reports. 

Osberg--who recently was president and CEO of Buzzwire, a company that provides content and video for mobile phones--said he hopes to work on improving the papers' brand, focus on the use of multimedia like video and audio, and better utilize social-networking sites.

"There will be a culture of rewarding innovation," he said.

Original Source: Associated Press

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Pennsylvania ranked among the highest job increases in the nation

In the month of March, PA recorded some of the highest employment increases in the nation, adding over 20,000 jobs, the Associated Press reports.
In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.
By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation's highest unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses during the month.
Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.
Original Source: The Associated Press
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Philadelphia newspapers sold to senior lenders

Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com was sold at auction Wednesday. The struggling newspaper giant's senior lenders purchased the newsroom and all associated debt for $139 million, defeating several local financier groups, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The local group's final offer had been the equivalent of $129 million, which included the company's North Broad Street headquarters building, which the company valued at about $30 million.

Lawrence G. McMichael, the lead attorney for the company, said he expected the sale to move smoothly to confirmation, with the company coming out of bankruptcy by the end of June.

"And that is a tremendous result," McMichael said
Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Rudman Foundation donates $1.2M for Temple TV production center

The Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation this week announced a $1.2 M grant for Temple University's new television production station, which will serve as the home for Temple's new TV station TUTV, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.
The Kal and Lucille Rudman Media Production Center will be located in Annenberg Hall on Temple’s main campus in North Philadelphia. TUTV will feature programming from Temple’s School of Communications and Theater, the rest of Temple and the Philadelphia region.

In addition to the production center, the Rudmans’ gift will go to create an endowed fund to help pay for the station’s programming and equipment, as well as classes and seminars on media issues, broadcasting, entertainment and new media.
Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Liberty Property Trust awarded for sustainability efforts

This week, Maastricht University--a Netherlands-based university--released an international study which ranked Pennsylvania development firm Liberty Property Trust first among U.S. publicly-traded development firms in the area of successfully implementing environmental policy, the Triad Business Journal reports.
Liberty Property Trust is headquartered in Pennsylvania and controls about 3 million square feet of office, flex and industrial space in the Triad.

Liberty's Carolinas portfolio includes three LEED-certified buildings, including the Bull Ridge Distribution Center in Greensboro, which was one of the first speculative warehouse developments in the country to achieve LEED certification.

World Trade Center steel comes home to PA

A mile-long procession of 28 flatbed trucks carrying 500 tons of steel remnants of the fallen World Trade Center remnants returned the “steel trees” to their Pennsylvania birthplace in Coatesville, reports the Associated Press.

Forged in 1969 by Lukens Steel Co., the supports framed the perimeter of the twin towers' first nine floors and massive lobbies before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks reduced both skyscrapers to rubble.

But the World Trade Center's twisted steel supports, among the few remaining pieces of the 110-story skyscrapers still standing, became an iconic image of defiance and strength for a mourning nation.

Original source: Associated Press
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UPenn moves up to No. 2 in medical school rankings

The University of Pennsylvania leap-frogged Johns Hopkins University to take the No. 2 spot on U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of 122 U.S. medical schools, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

After Harvard, Penn, and Johns Hopkins, there was a tie for fourth between the University of California, San Francisco, and Washington University in St. Louis. Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, and Yale University tied for sixth.

Columbia University rounded out the top 10. The University of Pittsburgh's medical school, No. 14, was the only other Pennsylvania school in the top 50 this year. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey did not make the top 50.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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BioAdavnce offers workshops for life sciences startups

BioAdvance, which operates the Biotechnology Greenhouse of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the University City Science Center have announced they are accepting applications for a workshop focused on helping life science entrepreneurs, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The free program is called “Entrepreneur OnRamp.” It will feature a full day of panel discussions, coaching and networking for up to 30 individuals or “very early stage human-health focused” startup companies from Greater Philadelphia. The program will be held May 27 at the Science Center in West Philadelphia.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Inovio, Drexel, Penn and Cheyney get grant to develop hepatitis C vaccine

Blue Bell-based Inovio Biomedical Corp. and three schools in the region have earned a $2.8 million Pennsylvania grant to develop a DNA vaccine to treat hepatitis C, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The grant from the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURE) will fund pre-clinical studies to test the safety and effect on the immune system of Inovio's novel vaccines. They are designed to treat people who are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and have not responded to available therapies.
Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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World's unusual treehouses take root in PA

Pennsylvania is home to some of the world's most unusual and well-built treehouses, reports Forbes.

In Seattle über-carpenter (Peter) Nelson has been advancing arboreal design for a decade with popular coffee-table books like 2009's New Treehouses of the World (Abrams) and as a chief branch swinger at TreeHouse Workshop. In addition to the Ramona marvel (which, sadly, was destroyed during 2008's San Diego wildfires), Nelson and his team built a sprawling tree cathedral in the style of a Norwegian stave church at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

Original source: Forbes
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Wharton study: Online retailers should pay attention to geography

New research at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania indicates proximity to certain physical stores and word-of-mouth referrals from within a community heavily influence how people make their purchases, reports Business Week.

"The bottom line is that the more you can learn about someone's physical circumstances, either at the individual or neighborhood level, the better it could be for your business," said David R. Bell, a marketing professor at Wharton and co-author of the research.

The researchers used sales data from large Internet retailers to study how close customers lived to one another. They found that consumers still rely just as heavily on traditional methods of marketing, such as magazine advertising and references from nearby friends and neighbors, compared with Internet-enabled techniques like blogs and keyword searches.

Original source: Business Week

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Pennsylvania Bio leader won't stop working in retirement

Dennis “Mickey” Flynn is stepping down as president of Pennsylvania Bio this summer, but retirement won’t immediately follow, reports the Pottstown Mercury.

The affable and voluble Flynn, 68, plans to remain on board for six months as vice chairman of Pennsylvania Bio, the statewide trade group for the biosciences industry. He also hopes to shepherd a Chester County biotech incubator to fruition, and perhaps teach a class or two at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Original source: Pottstown Mercury

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Building on a reputation for innovation

The Reinvestment Fund has big plans for Warminster, where the Navy and Marines are scheduled to leave operations next year, reports the Bucks County Courier Times.

Now, with the Navy and Marines scheduled to leave by September of next year, an investment company wants to spend another $26.8 million to transform the 199 townhomes into twins and single-family units, sell them and create a fund to aid homeless throughout the region.

And if you ask the president and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund why, he will tell you his firm is not only engaging in the effort because it can, it's doing it because it should.

Original source: Bucks County Courier Times
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Prize for best Google Gigabit Philly idea announced, $8,000 and growing

Philly Startup Leaders has offered a prize that has grown to $8,000 thanks to a half-dozen individuals and organizations for the best idea submitted to Gigabit Philly to woo Google to build one of its ultra-high speed broadband networks in Philadelphia, reports Technically Philly.

Startup Leaders founder Blake Jennelle told Technically Philly in a phone interview this morning. Startup Leaders hopes that the prize will continue to increase as Google’s deadline on Mar. 26 quickly approaches.

“We’ll consider this a victory if it shines a light on the grassroots movement in Philadelphia. We take things into our hands, step up to the plate, move quickly and rally together,” Jennelle says.

Original source: Technically Philly
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Why You Should Start a Company in Philadelphia

Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital in Philadelphia talks about the city’s assets for startups as part of an ongoing series in Fast Company.

When you look around the country, you see that second-generation entrepreneurs play a big role in thriving communities. They serve as mentors, cheerleaders and early capital sources. Philadelphia is an exception to the rule. Because despite a Web 1.0 legacy of hits like CDNow (acquired by Bertelsmann in 2000 for $117 million), Half.com (acquired by eBay in 2000), e-commerce company GSI ($1.55 billion market cap) and VerticalNet (valued at $12 billion in 1999), the city is mainly driven by first-generation entrepreneurs and few of them have hit a serious scale or impact yet.

But what Philadelphia's current startup scene lacks in experience it makes up for in enthusiasm. Blake Jennelle, a self-appointed leader of the community, founder of Philly Startup Leaders and a serial entrepreneur (Anthillz, TicketLeap), calls it a "self-help ethos." That sounds about right for a place known as the City of Brotherly Love.

Original source: Fast Company
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Incoming Drexel president has ambitious plans

Drexel University has found someone to fill the big shoes of its late former president, Constantine Papadakis, and John Fry’s Philadelphia connections will come in handy, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Known for his boundless energy and aggressive agenda, Fry may be someone who can fill the shoes of Papadakis, who started medical and law schools, increased enrollment, and improved finances during his 14-year tenure.

Fry said he would start as he had at F&M--meeting people on campus to learn as much as he can before collaborating on a plan for the 22,000-student university.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Undergraduates break tradition, leap ahead with research

Science research by undergraduates is growing in Pennsylvania as elsewhere, according to the National Council on Undergraduate Research, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 
The learning pendulum has swung so far that many undergraduates and professors view substantive research before earning a bachelor's degree as essential to advancing career goals. Such research includes work published in scholarly journals; work that is part of a project led by a scientist, professor or graduate student; or work paid for by a grant.

Since 2004, the number of member institutions in the nonprofit Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington grew to about 600 from 385, said Nancy Hensel, executive officer. Today, about 5,000 individuals are members. Both totals are all-time highs. In 2007, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education became the first system to join the council.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Wynn gets a chance to revive Philly casino project

Billionaire casino magnate Steve Wynn, who helped remake Las Vegas, will try to rescue the long-stalled Foxwoods casino project on Philadelphia’s waterfront, reports Business Week.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board temporarily put off any decision on yanking the license of the financially troubled Foxwoods Philadelphia Casino until Wynn has a chance to show them his plans to take it over and build a $600 million casino.

The recession has sunk a number of casino projects around the country. Foxwoods Philadelphia became the second one in Pennsylvania in need of a rescue, prompting its investors to reach out to Wynn.

Original source: Business Week

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PA ranks No. 1 in starting, completing transportation projects

When it comes to starting and completing transportation projects funded by federal stimulus money, no large state does it faster than Pennsylvania, reports the Patriot-News.

That’s the verdict reached by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The panel evaluated how states have managed the stimulus money allocated for road and bridge projects.

The state has completed 92 out of 326 stimulus-funded projects to date, worth $125 million. In the midstate, 17 out of 29 planned projects have been completed or are “essentially complete,” meaning work motorists would see and encounter is finished.

Original source: Patriot-News

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Descartes letter found at Haverford, therefore it is

One of the long-missing letters of Rene Descartes, considered a founding father of modern philosophy and analytic geometry, has turned up at Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia, reports the New York Times.

The letter, dated May 27, 1641, concerns the publication of “Meditations on First Philosophy,” a celebrated work whose use of reason and scientific methods helped to ignite a revolution in thought.

It turns out the letter had been donated in 1902 to Haverford’s library by Lucy Branson Roberts, whose husband, Charles Roberts, was an avid autograph collector. He had bought the letter without knowing that it was stolen.

Original source: New York Times
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Changing the face of research and science: A nonprofit biotech incubator

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, a partnership between the Hepatitis B Foundation and Delaware Valley College, continues to grow less than four years since its inception, reports the Huffington Post.
Funded in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the more than $14 million Center is undergoing its third expansion in as many years. In fact, since it opened in 2006, the Center has grown from 63,000 square feet in one building to a total of 100,000 square feet in two buildings located on a 10-acre campus in Doylestown, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Original source: Huffington Post
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TCACC endorses Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center project

A Pottstown area brownfield site will be renovated into a state of the art environmental science center, according to a project plan submitted by the Montgomery County Community College Foundation and endorsed by the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, reports the Mercury News.
Tim Phelps, chamber president, announced the endorsement of the proposed center at a TCACC Membership Mixer hosted by the college on Jan. 26. Phelps presented the board’s letter of support to Dr. Karen A Stout, president, MCCC, and Kurt Zwikl, executive director, Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, for the project created through the partnership of the two organizations.
“The partnership between the college and the SRHA is the first known one of its kind--where a community college partners with a designated national heritage area to benefit the greater community,” said Stout.
Original source: Mercury News
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Blueprint for honing America’s entrepreneurial edge

University of Pennsylvania professor Mauro Guillen is among those who believe entrepreneurship education is important to spark innovation-led growth in this report from Christian Science Monitor.

“It’s simply wrong that entrepreneurs are born. People can be educated about it,” says Mauro Guillen, an expert on entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “Giving people the tools is very important.”

Original source: Christian Science Monitor
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Developer wants to double size of Carbon solar park

Green Energy Capital Partners is looking to expand its plans to build a $120 million solar-energy park in Carbon County, making it the largest solar park east of the Mississippi, reports the Morning Call.

Green Energy announced the Nesquehoning project in August 2008 and initially leased 134 acres for Solar Park I from firetruck maker Kovatch Enterprises, which operates an adjacent industrial complex. That park was to generate power for 1,450 homes.

Months later, Green Energy signed a deal with Kovatch for a 120-acre reclaimed waste coal pile where Solar Park II would go. The combined 20-megawatt plant would have more than 100,000 solar panels. Groundbreaking is set for July and the first park could open in May of next year.

Original source: Morning Call
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Two centuries of books in a Pennsylvania barn

A used-book store in an 1820s West Chester barn that's for sale is a prize among independent bookstores, reports The New York Times.

What might differentiate his shop from America’s throngs of ailing independent bookstores are the architecture and the intentional chaos. On five floors antique fruit crates advertising brands like Boy Blue and Lake Gold help hold up 200,000 volumes published over the last 200 years. “Duck or Grouse” read the signs on low doorways and beams. Books are organized by subject and somewhat alphabetically; a few familiar “Who Moved My Cheese?” copies are steps from obscurities like “Gunman’s Gold” and “Star-Spangled Kitsch.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Brandywine Optics focuses on imaging-camera growth

John Fisher of Brandywine Optics, which focuses on hyperspectral imaging, is helping scientists analyze a variety of subjects like never before, reports the Delaware County Times.

A native of Norwood who was born at the Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Fisher studied at Pennsylvania State University to secure a degree in electrical engineering with a specialty in optics.

Having received a $100,000 tax credit, Fisher plans to sell that to translate into three jobs--a technician, an applications engineer and an engineering co-op from Villanova University.

Original source: Delaware County Times
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$26M stimulus will upgrade rail in Lancaster County for high-speed trains

While Scranton was left out of the funding, Pennsylvania earned more than $26 million in stimulus funds to upgrade Amtrak lines between Harrisburg and Philadelphia for high-speed rail trains, reports the Central Penn Business Journal.

The state will use most of the money, $25.6 million, to remove the three remaining road crossings and build two bridges on the Keystone Corridor in Lancaster County, said Erin Waters, a spokeswoman for PennDOT.

The improvements eventually will allow Amtrak to increase top speeds from 110 mph to 125 mph along the Keystone.

Original source: Central Penn Business Journal

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Drexel opens walk-in clinic at Liberty Place

Center City Philadelphia's first convenient-care clinic, a joint project of the Drexel University School of Medicine and Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions, has opened at the Shops at Liberty Place, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Howard Miller, chief executive officer of the medical school's practice plan or group medical practice, had three goals when he conceived the clinic: Give people who work or visit downtown easy access to routine medical care, raise Drexel's visibility, and increase referrals to Drexel's doctors.
"We've not been as visible in the city as we would like," Miller said of Drexel's 274 doctors. "I don't have Penn's money to advertise."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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State to invest $9.2M to support alternative energy projects that create jobs

Governor Ed Rendell announced close to $10 million in investments in alternative energy that will help create about 170 jobs, reports Gant Daily.
The $9.2 million in grants and loans the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved today, he added, will benefit seven projects throughout the state that are showing how alternative energy can conserve resources and cut expenses--two aspects that are critical to Pennsylvania’s long-term economic competitiveness.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority administers Pennsylvania's economic stimulus programs, including portions of the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund.

Original source: Gant Daily
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Philly aiming to improve energy efficiency

Energy efficiency and LEED standards have Philadelphia awash in green, and potential savings, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philadelphia spent over $48 million on electricity, heating oil, and natural gas in fiscal year 2008-09, one of the largest line items in the city's general budget.
Which explains why reducing municipal energy use--by 10 percent this year, and by 30 percent within five years--is one of the top goals on the Nutter administration's sweeping environmental agenda.
Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Area woman honored for building up biotech

Brenda Gavin, a partner and co-founder of Quaker BioVentures, is set to receive the top award from statewide biopharmaceutical organization Pennsylvania Bio, the Hubert J.P. Shoemaker Leadership Award, reports the Pottstown Mercury.

"It's typically an award for entrepreneurs, so they've wandered off the track here a bit," Gavin said Wednesday of the honor. "It's very flattering they would pick someone like me to get this award."

Before starting Quaker BioVentures with two partners, Gavin was president of S.R. One Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline's venture capital arm, and general partner of EuclidSR Partners, an independent venture capital fund focused on health care and information technology.

Original source: Pottstown Mercury

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Need a job? Casinos may hire up to 1,500 more

Table games are coming to PA casinos in the next nine months, meaning as much as 1,500 new casino-related jobs will be up for grabs, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bob Griffin, president and CEO of MTR Gaming Group Inc., which owns Presque Isle, said the casino plans to hire 400 to 500 more employees to staff 46 to 50 table games and provide support. Mr. Griffin said the number of new hires would have been higher had the state's one-time $16.5 million licensing fee for table games been lower.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Area firm, partner get $1.6M for solar ideas

Philadelphia’s Solar Strategies and Milldeburg’s Professional Building Systems teamed on a successful tax credit application for $1.6 million to re-equip the Snyder County facility to produce net zero-energy homes, reports the Daily Item.

Thousands of solar modular homes are expected to be produced within the company, and would generate more power than they consume over the course of the year. Such would be accomplished through the use of various energy conservation techniques and energy-producing technologies, such as smart metering, Energy Star appliances, and energy management systems.

Penn State University worked with both Solar Strategies and Professional Building Systems on the 2009 Solar Decathlon, Riley said, and the Center for Sustainability has been working with Solar Strategies since 2006 to help advance modular solar home technologies.

Original source: Daily Item

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NBC-Comcast deal puts broadcast TV in doubt

Philadelphia-based Comcast's deal to acquire NBC Universal will have a significant impact on the future of broadcast television, reports The New York Times.

At every turn, Comcast has emphasized to its own shareholders that the deal's purpose is to gain control over NBC Universal's fast-growing cable channels. The writer and humorist John Dillon observed Thursday that in the 2,742-word news release about the deal, the broadcast network was not mentioned until word 2,170. There is even talk of changing NBC Universal's name to play down the broadcast association.

The deal is structured to give Comcast a controlling 51 percent interest, with its partner, General Electric, initially retaining 49 percent.

Original source: The New York Times
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Tech firms get intro to Boeing Technology Alliance

Pennsylvania tech firms will get an introduction to one of the world’s largest manufacturers through a new effort sponsored by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, reports the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal.

Ben Franklin's membership in the alliance does not mean companies will have direct access to Boeing but they will have an opportunity to work with the company after a vetting process, said Terry Singer, Ben Franklin's director of statewide affairs. "It's an incredible opportunity," he said. It could take up to three years after Ben Franklin identifies a tech company from its portfolio until Boeing adopts the company's technology, Singer said.

Ben Franklin is a statewide group that supports technology companies through capital investments and operational assistance using state money, partnerships and access to business expertise. Since 1982, it has helped 1,139 companies and created or retained 3,334 technology jobs, according to the group.
Read the full story here.
Original source: Central Pennsylvania Business Journal

Obama taps Penn's Gutmann to lead bioethics panel

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann was named last week to chair President Obama's new advisory panel on bioethics, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In June, Obama disbanded the council and cleared the way for yesterday's creation of his Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. He also named James W. Wagner, president of Emory University, as vice chair.

Obama's move was not unprecedented. Bush's council was created in 2001 and replaced President Bill Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PA responsible for three percent of all VC-created jobs, 6th in nation

According to a report by the National Venture Capital Association, Pennsylvania ranks sixth in the nation in percentage of jobs created through private equity investment, reports the blog Technically Philly.

The state is responsible for 3.36 percent of all VC-based job postings, despite only being responsible for 1.13 percent of the deals in Q3. Ahead of Pennsylvania were California (38.98 percent), Massachusetts (7.9 percent), New York (7 percent), Texas (6 percent) and Washington State (3.7percent).

Original source: Technically Philly
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With PA boost, solar-cell plant set for Navy Yard

State and local financial incentives are paving the way for a Greek solar-panel manufacturing company to build a production facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The project, in the works at least three to six months, has been so hush-hush that those involved have used the code name "Project Helios" to refer to it. Helios was the personification of the sun in ancient Greek mythology.

The company's name is Heliosphera. It has been in business since 1998, according to its Web site.

"It's a very significant new project," said Peter S. Longstreth, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which owns and manages the Navy Yard on behalf of the city.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PA sees jump in international student enrollment

The state's largest universities have registered international students in increasing numbers this year, creating the biggest one-year jump in such enrollments in nearly three decades, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Bill Shackner.

A recent report from the Institute for International Education says international enrollment at American Universities jumped 8 percent last year. Five countries-- India, China, South Korea, Canada and Japan--accounted for half of the enrollment.

In this state, the University of Pennsylvania in 2008-09 had the largest international enrollment, 4,635 students, followed by Penn State's main campus, 3,741; Carnegie Mellon University, 3,299; the University of Pittsburgh main campus, 2,216; and Drexel University, 2,007.
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Ben Franklin Technology of Southeastern PA to invest in five firms

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania announced investments in five early-stage PA companies totaling $950,000, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Listen Logic was approved to receive the largest investment, $250,000. The Fort Washington company has technology that allows its customers to track what's being said about them on the Internet, regardless of the format in which the comments appear. It previously had received a $150,000 investment from Ben Franklin.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Program helps inner-city youths ease into life, succeed at elite schools

The New York-based Posse Foundation is helping inner city students get acclimated at Bryn Mawr College and is soon coming to the University of Pennsylvania, reports the Morning Call.

Posse founder Deborah Bial started the organization in 1989 after a once-promising inner-city student told her, ''I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me."

Original source: Associated Press
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A solar investment

Ninety year-old company Alvah Bushnell is installing one of the largest rooftop solar panel systems in Philadelphia and the region, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When federal and state grants and rebates are factored in, along with depreciation tax credits, the cost of the system is $62,720, said David Richman, vice president of commercial project development for Eos Energy Solutions. The Philadelphia solar-energy company expects to have Alvah Bushnell plugged into the sun by the middle of January. A new roof is needed first. Cost: $132,000.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Docs that rock

A group of doctors from Philadelphia's premier medical schools rocked the stage with a battle of the bands at World Café Live recently, reports The Scientist.

The musicians hailed from four area medical schools (Thomas Jefferson University, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple University) and were brought together by the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSA), an organization that promotes social consciousness and activism among physicians.

Original source: The Scientist
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Convention Center halfway to its big rebirth

The $786 million expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia is at the halfway point, with a March 2011 opening expected, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It allows us to attract groups that we couldn't in the past because we weren't big enough," said Ahmeenah Young, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.

That means attracting larger national conventions, especially health and medical groups, and accommodating multiple conventions at the same time, Young said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Social media explored as tool for health experts

Tweets, widgets and Facebook groups could have the potential to advance health, and it was the topic of conversation at the American Public Health Association's 137th annual meeting in Philadelphia, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

While public-health experts present the latest science and discuss its practical impact on health, a critical factor for making progress on those issues is meaningful and timely communication with the public.

"Social networking is a phenomenal new way to engage and communicate with the public," Benjamin said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Google to acquire PA-rooted AdMob for $750M in stock

AdMob, a mobile phone advertising start-up founded in the University of Pennsylvania dorm room of Wharton School student Omar Hamoui in 2006, has been acquired by Google, reports Bloomberg.

AdMob raised venture capital from Sequoia, Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Northgate Capital. Sales should more than double this year, AdMob Chief Executive Officer Omar Hamoui said in an interview today. The company will benefit from Google’s resources, including its engineering teams and technology.

“We chose Google, and we chose that over an independent path; and we chose that over other options,” Hamoui said. “We’re very excited about getting to Google. We feel like we’re going to be like kids in a candy store.”

Original source: Bloomberg
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UPenn researchers getting the small picture

John Schotland of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues are getting closer to a new technology that could provide nanometer resolution, or 3-D images of small semiconducting structures or proteins inside cells, reports Physical Review Focus.

Now Schotland and his colleagues have proposed a new method, using a similar setup, that eliminates the need for phase information and instead uses an atomic force microscope (AFM), a device famous for its precise maneuverability. First, a tiny object that scatters light strongly, such as a gold nanoparticle, is attached to the AFM's slender probe, which then hovers less than a wavelength above the sample's surface. Next, aiming the laser at the prism-sample interface from below, a researcher would move the AFM's probe delicately over the sample's surface while a detector measured the power of the reflected beam. "The atomic force microscope has the capability of changing the position of the tip [at] nanometer scales with extraordinary precision," Schotland says.

Original source: Physical Review Focus
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South Philly rail yard expansion part of planned Crescent Corridor

Norfolk Southern's 15-acre expansion at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia will be part of an eventual 2,500-mile, high-speed rail route expected to move freight onto trains and away from highways, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gov. Rendell and Norfolk Southern chief executive Charles "Wick" Moorman yesterday announced an $11 million investment to expand the current 45-acre yard here to handle more large steel containers and trailers that can be transferred between rail cars, trucks, and ships.

"We plan to give the shippers and producers in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania the option to ride the rails all the way," Moorman said at a briefing at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Stuck in the middle of the World Series, a city suffers an identity crisis

Easton is about 80 miles from both Philadelphia and New York, and the PA town on the west bank of the Delaware River is quite conflicted between the Phillies and Yankees in the World Series, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In other matters, Easton stands clear on its identity and history. It's the home of Crayola Crayons, which has a store on the town square featuring the world's largest crayon (15 feet long, 1,500 pounds, blue). The square was also the site of one of the three original readings, on July 8, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence. Inventors of the Dixie cup and the bamboo fly rod came from Easton.

But Easton has had a close link to New York City in the past, one that it prefers to forget. During Prohibition in the 1920s, Easton kept the liquor flowing freely, gaining a reputation for brothels and speak-easies. New Yorkers used to hop the train for Easton on Friday nights, earning the town the nickname, "the Little Apple."

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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Phila. University's lab will spin out medical-use textiles

A new lab at Philadelphia University, in partnership with Drexel University, will develop textiles for use in the human body, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The Biomedical Textile Structures Laboratory contains a loom, braiders and a nanofiber spinner that will be used to make textile structures used in tissue repair.
Possible uses of the structures include repairing tendons and ligaments and as vascular grafts.

But the initial application being targeted by researchers from Philadelphia University and Drexel is a cardiac patch that could be used to grow tissue in dead or damaged areas of the heart.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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World Series a marketing windfall for Philadelphia

Cheesesteaks and hotels and restaurants in Philadelphia figure to benefit from the Phillies' second consecutive World Series appearance, which started Wednesday against the Yankees, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, is estimating a total of $20 million to $25 million in visitor spending from up to three World Series games between the Phillies and the Yankees that will be played here. New York is estimating $15.5 million per game in total economic impact, or $62 million for up to four home games, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Economic development strategy released for Delaware Valley

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission released its official comprehensive economic development strategy for Greater Philadelphia, reports the Times Herald.

Created in partnership with Select Greater Philadelphia and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the document was recently approved by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). This designation means that economic development projects in the region are eligible for EDA funding.

“There is a lot of collaboration among many organizations in economic development planning, and there is a collective vision that emerges when these efforts are viewed as a whole,” said DVRPC Executive Director, Barry Seymour. “DVRPC was proud to lead such a high-profile project in order to help Greater Philadelphia become more sustainable and economically competitive.”

Original source: Times Herald

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Making medical breakthroughs

Philadelphia University officially opened its Biomedical Textile Structures Laboratory, reports the Roxborough Review.

The lab was funded by a $1.25 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The lab has been a 40 year dream come true for Brookstein, who started his undergraduate work at  the university, then known as the Philadelphia College of Textile and Sciences.

Researchers at the BTSL, working with medical researchers from the Drexel University College of Medicine, will focus on the development, testing and support of basic research in the biomedical textile devices using a variety of nanofiber platforms and applications.

Original source: Roxborough Review
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Gene therapy transforms eyesight of 12 born with rare defect

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have made remarkable improvements in a dozen patients with a rare inherited visual defect, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The youngest patient, 9-year-old Corey Haas, was considered legally blind before the treatment began. He was confined largely to his house and driveway when playing, had immense difficulties in navigating an obstacle course and required special enlarging equipment for books and help in the classroom.

The study "holds great promise for the future" and "is appealing because of its simplicity," wrote researchers from the Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands in an editorial accompanying the report, which was published online Saturday by the journal Lancet.

Original source: Los Angeles Times

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Penn State receives $5.5 million in DOE grants

Penn State University announced that it has received $5.5 million for two research projects to be based at the Philadelphia Navy Yard's Clean Energy campus, says Penn State Live.

The first grant provides $2 million to establish the Mid Atlantic Clean Energy Applications Center to promote adoption of clean energy technology by industry and government in the six Mid Atlantic states. The second grant provides $3.5 million to establish the Mid Atlantic Solar Resource and Training Center, aimed at developing the solar energy industry in the Mid Atlantic region through technical assistance and workforce development. Both of these new centers will be located at the new Clean Energy campus of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

"Today's funding announcement is great news for the University and for Pennsylvania. These grants demonstrate how the educational and research strength of one of our state's great universities can help to solve our nation's energy problem. Additionally, through the connection to The Navy Yard, these grants show how Penn State can help to promote local economic revitalization throughout Pennsylvania," said Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA).

Original source: Penn State Live
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City gets $14.1 million energy grant

A $14.1 million grant was announced by the U.S. Department of Energy to fund projects like energy-saving LED traffic lights, building upgrades and solar panel installations in Philadelphia, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The big-ticket item is nearly $5.8 million for grants and low-interest loans to help businesses and industries retrofit buildings to be more energy-efficient.

But the wow factor for many in the city's environmental community was the $700,000 earmarked for expanding citywide the incentive-based recycling program, run by the private company RecycleBank.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Which colleges make the best neighbors?

The University of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh ranked tied for the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, among the nation's top 25 best neighbor colleges according to the Saviors of Our Cities rankings announced by Westfield State College president Evan Dobelle, reports the New York Times.

Here's a way for students and parents to size up potential colleges using a metric not found in most guide books: Which institutions have the best relationships, fiscal and otherwise, with the communities in which they reside?

Among Dr. Dobelle's criteria are "faculty and student involvement in community service," "real dollars invested," "effect on local student access and affordability to attend college through K-12 partnerships," and "qualitative esprit in the institution and its engagement."

Original source: New York Times
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Comcast, NBC Universal in advanced talks on merger

Comcast is engaged in serious negotiations with NBC Universal on a possible merger that would give the Philadelphia-based cable giant the entertainment division it has desired, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Comcast would own 51 percent of the new private corporate entity, which would be valued at $35 billion, and beleaguered General Electric would own 49 percent. GE, whose financial and manufacturing divisions were battered in the recession, owns 80 percent of NBC Universal. French company Vivendi owns the remaining stake.

There will be a "path-to-ownership" provision that would allow Comcast or General Electric to own 100 percent of the venture, sources said.

Original Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Changing Skyline: Proving green can be gorgeous

Philadelphia's new Hotel Palomar opens Oct. 15 and has set the standard for green luxury, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

While Philadelphia has been steadily compiling an inventory of green offices, schools, and homes, the Palomar will be the city's first hotel to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council's coveted seal of approval. Palomar expects to receive a silver rating, and possibly gold, the council's second-highest. But getting to that level turned out to be more complicated than slapping organic paint on the walls and recycling the construction debris.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Penn sets its taste buds for local produce

Economic inclusion is the driver behind the University of Pennsylvania's plan to offer more local food for its cafeterias that fed 4,000 undergraduates, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to vice president Marie Witt, Penn is trying to buy more local produce for the same reason it calls West Philly Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and looks for Philadelphia contractors when the university builds an office.

"Economic inclusion," Witt calls it. "A big part of what we emphasize here is bringing our resources to leverage our purchasing power" to favor neighbors.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Two PA companies make WSJ's top small companies list

Analytical Graphics Inc. of Exton and Railroad Associates Corp. of Hershey were named to Wall Street Journal's Top Small Workplaces 2009 list.

How do you figure out what perks will make your employees happier? Here's a trick: Listen to them. That's the approach taken by Analytical Graphics, an aerospace- and defense-software developer. Paul Graziani, chief executive, says he and his co-founders didn't have a strong vision when it came to formulating workplace practices or perks. But they let employees guide the way.

Railroad Associates--also known as Trac--provides a lot of on-the-job training to new employees, often through on-site mentoring and various courses. In addition, the company just rolled out an intranet system that employees can access via laptop to get information, including job budgets and scheduling information, to help them make better decisions.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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Kimmel Center pact could resuscitate the Merriam

A new pact between the Kimmel Center and Merriam Theater is expected to help stimulate growth at the 91 year-old Merriam on South Broad Street, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

For the public, the arrangement holds the promise of not only a greater number of shows, but shows aimed more specifically at certain communities - jazz, gospel, smaller Broadway productions, cutting-edge theater, and family programming.

"It's important for us to touch and reach a broad community, and the Merriam has a wonderful tradition of reaching a broad ethnicity," said Kimmel president/chief executive officer Anne Ewers. "I think that people who might not feel as comfortable coming into the Academy of Music or the Kimmel Center are folks that we really want to touch and reach with our art, and the chance we have now with the Merriam is critical to that mission."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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UPenn endowment manager talks strategy with Fortune

The University of Pennsylvania endowment has outperformed other those of other Ivy League institutions and Penn chief investment officer Kristin Gilbertson spoke with Fortune about her tactics.

It's all relative of course. Every Ivy endowment lost money. Penn just lost the least. Its $5.2 billion endowment was down just under 16% from June '08 to June '09.

The Quakers actually have the oldest college endowment investing program in the country, founded in 1937. Legendary Vanguard investor John Neff was the chairman of the fund through the 1980s and imbued it with his deep-value investing philosophy that produced relatively low but steady returns.

Original source: Fortune
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Promoting local wine with Libation Vacations

The Pennsylvania Winery Association and the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism have joined forces to promote an outreach program called Libation Vacation, reports The Mercury.

The state tourism office provided a $75,000, multi-year grant, in part to coax more than 40 bloggers — carefully chosen for their knowledge about food, wine and travel — to blog about Pennsylvania's 11 wine trails, of which the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, comprised of almost a dozen local wineries, is one.

The avowed purpose of the blogging promotion is to "reach out to the online community utilizing social media tools and get greater recognition for our wine trails," said Jennifer Eckinger, executive vice president for the Pennsylvania Winery Association.

Original source: The Mercury
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Chestnut Hill College plans major expansion

Chestnut Hill College has doubled its enrollment since 2003 and is planning a multi-decade, $500 million development project that includes 10 new buildings, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Under the master plan, several years in the making, the college would grow from about 900 undergraduate students to 1,500 during the next four to six years and add a second doctoral program and several other new programs.

Vale said the plan, which also includes a student center, academic building, and underground parking facility on the main campus, was designed to keep the college prosperous in an increasingly competitive higher-education environment.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Here's the 411 on the 511 hotline

PennDOT's 511PA phone highway information system started last week, reports the Morning Call.

The program they're calling 511PA provides free, 24-hour traveler information, offering real-time warnings of traffic jams resulting from accidents, road work or other causes, as well as alerts about snow, ice and other weather conditions that might threaten a pleasant journey.

A companion Web site, http://www.511PA.com , offers the same information, plus links to other sites with public-transit, car-pooling and route-planning information, even details about major tourism programs or destinations.

Original source: Morning Call
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USM putting headquarters in Norristown

Facilities management company USM plans to locate its North American headquarters in a disused Sears building yards from a movie studio planned in Norristown, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

USM, which manages janitorial and similar services for other companies, is Norristown's second-largest private employer, with 317 workers in its current offices. The new office will consolidate some functions from the company's offices in Norristown, California, and New York.

The company must add at least 100 jobs to keep a $1.9 million grant awarded by the county commissioners yesterday. If its business plan goes as drafted, USM could add 100 more jobs after that, said George Spink, chief executive officer.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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North to the future in Philly

A new medical school building and a mix of residential and commercial projects have North Philadelphia bustling with development, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

John Kromer, former director of the city's Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), said that the city's decision to make "lower North Philadelphia a priority" for new-home-ownership programs in the early 1990s spurred private development now going on near Temple.

Kromer, author of Fixing Broken Cities: The Implementation of Urban Development Strategies, said the city's efforts and the Philadelphia Housing Authority's push to build new houses in a long-ignored section of North Philadelphia have helped to save the area.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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A new use for industrial sites: Industry

Philadelphia's economic development advocates are attempting to revive the city's manufacturing might by restoring underused industrial buildings, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Community Design Collaborative, a volunteer group that promotes revitalization of older, urban neighborhoods, is joining the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) on an 18-month initiative to improve job opportunities and restore underused industrial buildings and land to what they call "a competitive market standing."

Put more simply: "Let's focus on industrial for industrial for a little bit," said Elizabeth K. Miller, executive director of the collaborative.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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With recycling up 46 percent, there's talk of rewards

With a 46 percent increase in the most recent fiscal year, Philadelphia set a record for resident recycling, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

By recycling, Philadelphia residents saved the city $4.8 million last year in landfill costs. Each percentage-point increase in the diversion rate means a budget savings of $500,000, said Carlton Williams, deputy streets commissioner.

Combining residential and commercial recycling, the city's overall diversion rate is about 50 percent. This leaves Philadelphia a distant speck behind Germany, where the diversion rate can climb as high as 99 percent, said Paul Gilman of Covanta Energy, which operates energy-from-waste facilities in the United States.

Philadelphia's goal is a total diversion rate of 70 percent in 2015.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Brothers hoping LED business shines

Warminster's JKB Services has big hopes for its lighting company, including a manufacturing plant for LEDs, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When the Blooms formed JKB six years ago, the company was doing primarily graphics and lighting work for Broadway and trade shows. Over the last two years or so, they have concentrated on building the LED side of the business, mostly by visiting towns and companies and introducing potential clients to the technology.

The effort has paid off. JKB now has standing to bid on the nearly 7,000 streetlighting units that 22 townships, most of them in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, are seeking grant money to finance. Contributing to this region's growing interest in converting to LEDs is the pending expiration of state-imposed electrical-rate caps at the end of next year.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly newspapers wage local-ownership campaign

Owners of Philadelphia's two major newspapers, currently $400 million in debt, are making a bid to retain local ownership and have a launched a "Keep It Local!" ad campaign to bolster their cause, reports Forbes.

The investors--led by housing entrepreneur Bruce Toll and former public relations executive Brian Tierney--have proposed a reorganization plan for Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February, that pays creditors about 22 cents on the dollar.

Bank and other creditors have so far balked, and are working on their own plan to run The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

Original source: Forbes
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Wine industry in state uncorks growth, taste

Pennsylvania wineries are on pace to serve a record one million customers this year, reports the Patriot-News.

The interest is fueled by consumers curious about locally grown produce, said Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Winery Association, a Harrisburg-based trade group for the industry.

People view wineries as fun places to visit, with concerts, festivals and other special events throughout the year, Eckinger said.

Original source: Patriot-News
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PA asks for $28.2M for high-speed rail between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia

High speed rail improvements between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the focus of a $28.2 million request by Pennsylvania for stimulus funds, reports the Patriot-News.

For the Keystone Corridor East - Harrisburg to Philadelphia, the state is asking the federal government for $27.45 million in recovery funds. The money would be used for various track and signal improvements and the addition of a third rail between Atglen and Paoli.

The state is asking for another $750,000 for a feasibility study for high-speed service in the Keystone Corridor West - Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. One Amtrak train a day in each direction now serves this mountainous corridor, which is occupied by freight lines.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Stimulus money created 2,000 highway jobs

Stimulus-funded highway and bridge projects have employed nearly 2,000 Pennsylvanians, and more jobs are likely on the way to work on upcoming projects go out for bid by Labor Day, reports the Patriot-News.

James P. Creedon, the state's chief implementation officer for the stimulus money -- known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- said that $7 billion of Pennsylvania's share is flowing to state residents in a variety of ways.

Most of the road projects have come in at 10 percent under budget, Creedon said. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to send the money saved back to the areas of the state where the savings were generated to pay for more projects.  

Original source: Patriot-News
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UPenn heading up stress training for U.S. soldiers

The University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center has consulted with the Pentagon on emotional resiliency training for all 1.1 million U.S. Army soldiers, reports the New York Times.

The training, the first of its kind in the military, is meant to improve performance in combat and head off the mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, that plague about one-fifth of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Active-duty soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard will receive the training, which will also be available to their family members and to civilian employees.

Original source: New York Times
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PA officials seek to keep Wyeth jobs in region

State officials are discussing possible incentives to keep Wyeth workers in the Greater Philadelphia region after the drugmaker merges with Pfizer, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"This is one thing that all of us, Republican or Democrat, are on the same page about - trying to make sure we keep the facilities," said State Sen. John Rafferty, a Republican whose district includes parts of Montgomery, Berks and Chester Counties and who has participated in the meetings.

Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J., employs about 5,000 people in Collegeville and Great Valley. It expects to close the merger with Pfizer by the end of this quarter. The two companies employ about 130,000 people, but the combination is expected to result in 20,000 job losses.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Corcoran crosses the Delaware

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which replaced the Penn's Landing Corporation earlier this year, has tapped Tom Corcoran, president and CEO of Cooper's Ferry Development Association in Camden, as its new president, reports PlanPhilly.

In making the announcement Monday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter said it was amazing that a national search that yielded more than 100 applicants led to a man right across the river.

"In Tom we have a highly qualified candidate with a proven track record of transforming urban waterfronts," said Donn Scott, Chairman of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the full article and watch the video here.

PGW Study Wins GRA Award

A study of PGW by The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia received the Governmental Research Association's 2009 Most Distinguished Research Award. The study, "The Philadelphia Gas Works: Challenges and Solutions," was recognized at an awards ceremony last month in Washington, D.C.

According to the GRA's website, the purpose of the awards is to recognize exceptional research on state and local governmental issues performed by staff members of governmental research agencies.

Original source: The Economy League of Great Philadelphia
View the complete list of award winners here.