Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Philadelphia, PA


One of the oldest cities in the nation, Philadelphia has a history as an important political and business hub; that said, it is still home to a number of established businesses – most notably Comcast – and startups alike.

Philadelphia, PA is the country’s sixth-biggest city and the center of its eighth-largest metropolitan area. One of the oldest cities in the nation, Philadelphia has a history as an important political and business hub; that said, it is still home to a number of established businesses – most notably Comcast – and startups alike.

In fact, a 2018 Forbes article declared Philadelphia as one of the “Top 10 Rising Cities for Startups,” while the city clocked in at 24th on Business.org’s list of the Top US Cities for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups. Additionally, Philly ranked 41st on Wallet Hub’s 2018 rankings of the best metro areas for STEM professionals. Finally, a pair of 2017 studies were also kind to The City of Brotherly Love: the Kauffman Foundation ranked the metropolitan area 17th in the nation in established entrepreneurship and 24th in entrepreneurial growth, while D.C.-based incubator 1776 ranked the city third in its Innovation that Matters study.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Local Entrepreneurs & Small Business Network is an extremely large and active networking group for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

PAWEBO hosts networking events as well as workshops and other opportunities for education and growth for women entrepreneurs and business owners.

With events held on a monthly basis, the Philly New Technology Meetup is a group aimed at supporting technological innovation.

Urban Entrepreneurs hosts weekly networking meetings to give entrepreneurs in the area opportunities to meet and work with one another.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

FearlessCon is an annual conference aimed at professional women that includes networking opportunities, business development services, and more.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia hosts a number of signature events, including awards ceremonies, mentorship opportunities for young businesspeople, and more.

Held every year, Philly Tech Week is a week-long conference celebrating technology and innovation from the city.

A conference supporting women in business is held annually in Philadelphia in accordance with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.


Startup Competitions:

Drexel University’s Ian J. Berg Business Plan Competition is open to teams with a leader that is a currently-enrolled student.

Hosted by Penn State Great Valley in nearby Malvern, the Lion Cage Competition is open to both students PSGV students and community entrepreneurs.

The Penn Wharton Startup Challenge is a competition hosted by and open to students at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business.

Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute hosts the Innovative Idea Competition, for new services, technologies, or products.


Co-working Spaces:

Located in West Philadelphia, The Fire Works offers flexible membership plans and the ability to reserve a designated desk.

Industrious Office offers traditional co-working space as well as private offices for teams ranging from one person to more than six.

With locations in New York City and Philadelphia, Joynture is a café-concept co-working space with communal areas and conference rooms.

Kismet has several locations around Philadelphia, with a variety of amenities available and events organized and hosted.

The Yard: Center City is the Philadelphia location of The Yard, which has private offices and co-working spaces in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C.


Maker spaces:

Hive76 offers 24/7 access to its wide variety of tools and equipment to members as well as organizing classes and other community events.

With a pair of locations in Philadelphia and one in Wilmington, DE, NextFab offers access to machinery as well as a number of other professional services to help businesses grow.

Located down the road in Phoenixville, the PA Makerspace offers access to a variety of tools and equipment, as well as classes and workshops that are free or discounted for members.

Philly Makerhouse is a woodshop that, in addition to providing access to woodworking tools, organizes classes and workshops to educate the community.



The NextFab maker space runs a 9-month incubator program that provides office space, business consulting, and networking opportunities to help its members grow.

The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator works with local fashion entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses and, in turn, the local economy.

The Science Center is a nonprofit organization that supports technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.

The University of Pennsylvania’s UPStart is a technology incubator that supports the commercialization of products in the Penn community.



Techstars and Comcast joined forces to create the LIFT Labs Accelerator program for startups in the media, entertainment, and connectivity industries.

Philadelphia is one of the homes of Dreamit Ventures, a large accelerator program with several varied tracks for technology startups.

NextFab’s RAPID Hardware Accelerator is a 12-week program for promising hardware startups that provides mentorship and $25,000 in funding.

In addition to other incubation services, the Science Center runs an accelerator program for selected healthcare technology companies.



The Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University offers a number of majors, minors, and graduate programs in entrepreneurship.

The La Salle Center for Entrepreneurship organizes a number of resources to support and promote entrepreneurship among the student body.

Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute provides support to student entrepreneurs through a degree program, co-working space, and more.

Penn Wharton has a robust collection of resources and programs to support student entrepreneurship at the university.


Angel Groups/VCs:

1315 Capital invests in commercial-stage medical, healthcare, and pharmaceutical technology startups.

A group of investors with chapters in Philadelphia and Princeton, NJ, DCIG invests in growth-stage startups across high-growth industries, especially technology.

Privately owned and operated, MentorTech Ventures invests in seed- and early-stage startups connected to the University of Pennsylvania ecosystem.

Rittenhouse Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in growth-stage B2B software companies across the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Robin Hood Ventures is an angel group that invests in early-stage startups located in around the city.

Led in part by MLB star Ryan Howard, SeventySix Capital is a venture capital program that invests in sports technology companies.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Philadelphia Business Journal offers newsletters covering business and entrepreneurship headlines in the area.

BizPhilly is a weekly newsletter covering various entrepreneurs and business news in the city.

TiE is a major nationwide entrepreneurship group, offers a newsletter covering entrepreneurship surrounding the city.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Philadelphia, PA not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.