KNIGHT FOUNDATION GRANT TO LAUNCH NEW DIGITAL MEDIA STARTUP INCUBATOR OPERATED BY BEN FRANKLIN TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS WITH PHILADELPHIA MEDIA NETWORK, DREXEL UNIVERSITY, DREAMIT VENTURES, AND PHILADELPHIA FOUNDATION
(July 12, 2011) –Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA has received a grant awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to launch a digital media startup incubator with Philadelphia Media Network, Inc. (PMN), owner and publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com. The strategic partnership
will also include Drexel University, DreamIt Ventures,
and the Philadelphia Foundation.
“Hosting this technology incubator will enable PMN to identify and develop some of the newest, most creative mobile technology applications, social media and e-commerce ventures,” said Gregory Osberg, PMN President and CEO. “We are embracing the changes that are occurring in our industry, and our goal is to take the lead in shaping the way our readers – our customers – will do business with us in the future.”
The technology incubator is designed to stimulate the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in Philadelphia and to inject a new culture of innovation in the media space. Set to begin operation in September, the program will provide four startup or early stage technology companies with a minimum of six months of office space — at PMN’s offices at 400 North Broad Street – technical and administrative support, mentoring, and access to the region’s most powerful online platform, Philly.com, for launching their digital media “apps” or related products.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA (BFTP/SEP) received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to operate the digital media startup incubator with Philadelphia Media Network, Drexel University, DreamIt Ventures, and the Philadelphia Foundation. While Philadelphia Media Network brokered the creation of the strategic partnership and will host the incubator – as well as provide Philly.com as a platform for launching the new products — Ben Franklin will provide mentoring and strategic business counsel to the startups.
Drexel University will provide graduate and undergraduate students with the unique opportunity to work with and move freely between the startup companies and PMN’s established media business. Ben Franklin also will work with DreamIt Ventures, a nationally-renowned Philadelphia-based startup accelerator program, on a secondary seed and support program that will be ideal for providing a stream of potential qualified candidates. The program is being made possible through a $250,000 grant from Knight Foundation to Ben Franklin.
“Knight Foundation is excited by the prospect of a trusted local media brand partnering to produce innovation, said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation with Knight Foundation. “Through funding more than 200 community information experiments, we’ve found that the models with the best success are nurtured. We hope this incubator will help produce models that can be used both here in the fourth largest media market, and industry wide, in order to strengthen both journalism and our communities.”
“Project Liberty is a tremendously innovative way to fuse print and digital media while stimulating new enterprise formation. Ben Franklin is proud and pleased to be part of this initiative,” said RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Ben Franklin.
“Startup companies will receive office space, equipment, and support, as well as entrée to our media platform for launching and testing their products,” said Osberg. “By hosting this incubator, PMN will also benefit by incubating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking throughout the company. This collaboration is an opportunity to immerse PMN amidst the latest technological innovations, as well as share years of corporate and media experience with the entrepreneurs selected to take part in the incubator program.”
In a demonstration of the company’s commitment to digital, Philadelphia Media Network also announced that it will begin to provide digital subscribers to the Philadelphia Inquirer with Android tablets to read the daily digital editions of the newspaper, with further details of the initiative to be released within the next several weeks. Osberg noted that digital subscriptions represent a growing market for PMN and that more and more customers are turning to the digital format to receive their daily news.
About Philadelphia Media Network
Philadelphia Media Network, Inc. (PMN) is the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. With its multiple brand platforms and integrated print and digital products, PMN is the region’s largest media network and the industry’s technological leader and innovator. The Philadelphia Media Network reaches an average weekly audience of 2.2 million adults – more than the combination of the three evening television news shows or the combination of those radio stations ranked in the top ten during drive-time programming.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.
About Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is a national, award winning model for technology innovation, and a catalyst for Stimulating Entrepreneurial Potential. For more than 28 years, we have invested in innovative enterprises and created commercialization pathways and partnerships that generate wealth through science and technology. We offer entrepreneurs and established businesses the Capital, Knowledge and Networks to compete in the global marketplace. We have invested more than $145 million to grow more than 1,700 regional enterprises across all areas of technology.
Vice President, External Relations; Philadelphia Media Network, Inc.
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Vice President/Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
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Jaron J. Rhodes
Manager, Marketing and Communications
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