What do a young med-tech company, a digital marketing agency and the leader of a startup consortium have in common? All three are inaugural honorees of the University City Science Center’s Nucleus Awards.
The trio represents what Science Center Board Chair Michael A. DiPiano described, at a ceremony on September 18, as the three pillars of innovation: commercialization, convening and cultivation.
UE Lifesciences, winner of the first Nucleus Commercialization Award as a catalyst in the acceleration of technology transfer, is behind the iBreastExam, a first-of-its-kind, handheld device that enables health workers worldwide to identify non-palpable breast lumps in minutes.
Kiera Smalls, executive director of Philly Startup Leaders, was honored with the Nucleus Convener Award for “[connecting] assets, resources and strengths of diverse people and organizations to advance civic interests and improve lives.”
Lastly, Seer Interactive, a fast-growing digital marketing agency, won the Nucleus Cultivator Award for “outstanding contributions in creating a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline in the STEM sectors.”
In accepting the commercialization award, UE Lifesciences co-founder Matthew Campisi (his counterpart, Mihir Shah, was stuck at an airport) described the global challenge of scaling up to make breast-cancer screening available and affordable for the more than 90 percent of women in developing countries who do not have access. Since its creation in 2009, the iBreastExam has screened more than 250,000 women in 12 countries. The company has raised $1.3 million in grants and international awards, and $4.2 million in equity capital.
Smalls, the convener awardee, joined Philly Startup Leaders as executive director in 2018. Before that, she worked on Philadelphia’s wildly successful Indego bike share and co-founded City Fit Girls, a wellness company. Her calling, she said, is to “connect available resources to the people who need the most.” Her challenge: “to connect Philadelphia neighborhoods with the resources in this room.”
Wil Reynolds launched Seer Interactive in 2002 as a one-man operation out of his living room. Today the digital marketing agency employs 180 in Philadelphia and San Diego. Seer has a strong focus on diversity and supporting philanthropic and charitable endeavors.
According to Reynolds, he founded his own company so he could have the flexibility to volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Today, Seer employees are required to devote time to the local community.
Nucleus, the Science Center’s annual fundraiser and self-described convener of the Philadelphia region’s “leaders, innovators, groundbreakers and champion networkers,” drew hundreds to its new digs at the Science Center’s Quorum.