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AFP 2022 Blog

AFP 2022 Blog


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Spotlight on Philadelphia: Innovation Nation

Feb 22, 2022

Things have changed in Philadelphia. While the Liberty Bell is still cracked, the cheesesteaks are steadfastly the best in the world, and Rocky is forever memorialized, the city itself is in the midst of a tremendous and exciting rebirth — one might even say a boom — of innovation and art. In fact, Philadelphia was the only U.S. city to make National Geographic’s “top 25 destinations of 2020,” and it is one of only seven destinations to make Condé Nast Travelers’ 2021 Gold List.

Why are we spotlighting the City of Brotherly Love? Because it is the host city for AFP 2022, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Startups, entrepreneurs meet the eds and meds

In a city long known as an epicenter of renowned universities, hospitals and medical centers, Philadelphia has quickly gained ground as a hotbed of talent thanks to the14 Fortune 500 companies stationed in the region. The lower cost of living — compared to other major U.S. cities — and concentrated resources (billions of dollars invested by way of venture capitalists, angel investors and accelerators) for entrepreneurs make it one of the best cities for startups and technology companies.

To say development is booming would be an understatement. The number of development projects and investments flowing in this city are nothing short of amazing. A few of the highlights include:

  • Schuylkill Yards is a 20-year, $3.5 billion project to connect Philadelphia International Airport with major cities along the Northeast corridor to create a key innovation hub on the East Coast. When completed, the project will span 14 acres, featuring multiple public spaces and several new high-rises to be occupied by labs, hotels, retail spaces, residential units and offices.
  • uCity Square is a $1 billion, 6.5 million-square-foot project between the University City Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology. Amicus Therapeutics has also opened a 75,000-square-foot Global Research and Gene Therapy Center of Excellence here.
  • Penn Medicine is leading the world in immunotherapy research with the first gene therapy approved by the FDA. CAR-T Cell Therapy is a personalized cellular therapy that trains healthy cells to hunt down and eliminate cancer cells.

In addition to the above, the amount of medical research taking place — life-altering breakthroughs and innovations — in this incredible city is mind-blowing. The pool of talent in Philadelphia is truly remarkable.

Further, there are a number of corporations sponsoring entrepreneurial exploration, such as the University City Science Center’s Launch Lane business accelerator and the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator.

Premier destination for public art

Did you know that Philadelphia is known as the “mural capital of the world”? As part of an anti-graffiti program started in 1984 by Mural Arts Philadelphia, the city now boasts 4,000 works of community-based public art — stunning works — with 50-100 new pieces commissioned every year.

This fall, the city is reinvigorating and beautifying its empty storefronts by transforming them into art installations. On view through the holidays, Love + Grit features original creations by 12 QBIPOC (queer, Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists that highlight 24 Black- and Brown-owned businesses adversely affected by COVID-19.

The city’s art scene has been recognized by both TIME and Travel + Leisure, making TIME’s World’s Greatest Places list for 2021 for the new experiences on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Travel + Leisure named Philadelphia one of 11 cities around the world that is home to “Must-See Public Art.”

More can’t-miss sites

The Schuylkill River Trail, named one of the top riverwalks in the nation, includes among its highlights the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, where pedestrians and cyclists can walk or ride over the river while taking in skyline views from one of four scenic overlooks.

Reading Terminal Market was named the best public market in the United States by USA Today. Dating back to 1893, it is also one of the oldest.

A top-five tourist destination in Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is one of the leading science centers in the country, complete with a planetarium and observatory, Now/Next exhibitions fueled by pop culture and emerging trends in science and technology, and much, much more.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has unveiled 90,000 square feet of new and reimagined public and exhibition space as part of the Frank Gehry-led Core Project.

The new Museum of Illusions Philadelphia in Old City is a mind-bending museum designed to shock your senses and puzzle your perceptions of reality.

Prepare to be inspired

The transformation taking place in Philadelphia is inspiring. So much so that we felt it was the perfect site for this year’s annual conference. Now is the time for innovation and renewal, and where better to embrace that energy than in a city teeming with it.

This October we’ll come together, to rethink, renew and evolve. Join us in Philadelphia to accelerate your creative thinking.