UPSTART program offers Penn business acumen to entrepreneurs


Many people dream of starting their own company, but they often are not sure where to start. Now, emerging entrepreneurs at Penn can turn to UPSTART, a new comprehensive program from Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer that is designed to help faculty and staff create new companies based on their inventions and technological innovations.

The program aids University faculty and staff in completing the steps necessary to legally form a company, raise funds and even recruit employees. UPSTART is a partnership that combines the business-creation strengths of CTT’s New Ventures Team with the entrepreneurial interests of faculty, staff and researchers.  

Working in collaboration with the Wharton Small Business Development Center, a division of the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center of Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs and the Commercialization Acceleration Program, graduate student teams research potential applications for a new company’s technology. They then analyze the size of the potential markets, address the competition and work directly with companies to develop product strategies.

The UPSTART program also assists with writing marketing and business plans for conferences and investor presentations. Once a plan is put together, UPSTART helps develop strategies and timelines for the pursuit of funding, including reaching out to angel investors, economic development funds, seed stage venture capital funds and government grant programs.  

Once funding is acquired, UPSTART representatives take the lead in introducing company founders to entrepreneurs with the capabilities necessary to assemble a management team and company infrastructure. By marketing the company’s technology to potential partners, UPSTART provides alternative funding sources to advance the pace of innovative research.

“The UPSTART program is an important means by which Penn supports the continued development of promising discoveries and helps to build the value of ground-breaking technologies,” says Michael Cleare, executive director of CTT. “We aim to impact the innovation economy in general, and local economic development in particular, with all that could mean in terms of jobs and GDP contribution. If successful, we should also realize substantial benefits for the University, its faculty and staff.”

For more information on the UPSTART Program, call 215-573-8196 or email

Originally published on April 15, 2010