Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

The iNest at Temple University: where innovation takes to the wing

Listen to this article!


At Temple University in Philadelphia, the Innovation Nest, or iNest, is more than just an innovation hub; it is a nurturing environment for entrepreneurial spirit. Jennifer Jenkins is Program Coordinator at the iNest and she shared how this center is shaping the future of entrepreneurship — on campus, around Philadelphia, and beyond.

temple Innovation Nest wall R

A grand opening and a grander vision

In March 2024, the iNest celebrated its grand opening. However, the journey began much earlier, with the first tenant moving in November of the previous year. Jenkins recalled the soft launch, "We started a bit earlier and ran some events last fall. We were already buzzing with activity at our ‘official’ grand opening."

She credits the success of the iNest launch to its strong leadership. "Our Executive Director, Todd Abrams, is a fantastic connector and advocate for the iNest," she says. "His openness and optimism drive our success. He’s always open to ideas and improvements."

Temple Todd Abrams Grand Opening The iNest was created to address a specific need: fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the Temple and greater Philadelphia communities. 

Jenkins explained, "There are three sections in the iNest. First, we have the tech commercialization offices with licensing managers and compliance managers who reach out to inventors to discuss ideas, patent potential, and IP issues. The center section includes our owl-named conference rooms and the forum, a large space used for big events. Finally, the third section is our incubation suite, where tenants can launch their products."

Creating a haven for innovative minds

The incubation suite has already seen success with tenants like Muse Engine, a company that has been with the iNest from the beginning. "Muse Engine is growing rapidly, and it’s been valuable to see their progress," Jenkins said. "We also have offices and flex spaces for rent, which have been a hit with the community. And Coworks software has been a lifesaver in managing this."

The iNest’s mission extends beyond the walls of Temple University. "We reach out to students, grads, postdocs, PhDs, faculty, alumni, and even community members, inviting them to bring their ideas to us. Our focus is on growing these ideas within the iNest and impacting the Philadelphia community," Jenkins emphasized. "We want to help people start companies that benefit the local area."

Philadelphia's reputation as a major medical city plays a significant role in the iNest’s focus on biotech and life sciences. "We engage doctors, clinicians, nurses, and pharmacists to address real-world problems," Jenkins says. "For example, we had students interested in finding ways to deal with the diabetes crisis in their community. This kind of community-driven problem-solving is at the heart of what we do."

The iNest runs various programs to nurture innovation. One such program, in collaboration with Heights Philadelphia, will start in July. "Heights Philadelphia works with high school students interested in healthcare. They will spend four weeks at iNest, getting a taste of day-to-day activities and networking," Jenkins explained. "We aim to show them that healthcare careers are abundant and accessible."

Temple Mayor Cherelle Parker iNest Grand Opening

Encouraging entrepreneurship at all levels

Jenkins highlighted a shift in the definition of entrepreneurship. "We are seeing a redefinition of what an entrepreneur is and what entrepreneurship can be," she says. "We ran a small program called the Ideathon, inviting undergrads, grads, and alumni to bring their ideas, even in the early stages. We coach them, help with business plans, and pitch their ideas. Some participants were invited to join the National Science Foundation's I-Corps Program, which is running at iNest. It’s exciting to see their growth."

The Blackstone Launchpad connection

Temple’s relationship with Blackstone Launchpad has been pivotal. "Blackstone has been at Temple for years, primarily working with undergrads," Jenkins says. "One of our biggest success stories is Camille Bell, who developed a skincare line called Pound Cake for people with darker skin tones. Bell won a $1 million grant from the Pharrell Williams Black Ambition competition, and her product is now featured in Allure magazine and Ulta stores."

The collaboration between Blackstone and the iNest is strong. "We have competitions in the fall for people to come in and say, ‘I have an idea,’" Jenkins said. "We work with them on business plans and presentations. There are awards from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to help students grow their companies. For instance, a student running a 3D printing company connected with one of our tenants at the iNest, leading to an internship."

Beneficial collisions and coworking experiences

The concept of "beneficial collisions" is alive and well at iNest. "People meet in collaborative spaces and find overlaps in their work," Jenkins shared. "Before Temple, I hadn't experienced coworking spaces. COVID-19 opened up virtual communication and increased interest in coworking. It’s a new way to engage with others without being physically present."

Fighting loneliness with community

Jenkins acknowledges the role of coworking spaces in combating loneliness. "The sense of community they offer is valuable," she said. "We encourage everyone to become members to see everything we're doing. Our QR codes for the Coworks app are everywhere, making it easy to join and stay informed."

The success of the iNest is also supported by the robust Coworks software. Jenkins is enthusiastic about its impact: "Coworks has been a lifesaver in managing our space. Anytime I have a question, someone from Coworks is there to help. Their software is incredibly user-friendly and efficient. It allows us to manage our members, schedule events, and maintain communication effortlessly. This ease of use encourages more people to become members because they can see everything we’re doing and engage with our activities seamlessly."

The iNest at Temple University stands as a beacon of innovation and entrepreneurship, fostering ideas and supporting the local community. Through programs, collaborations, and a strong sense of community, the iNest is paving the way for a brighter future in Philadelphia and beyond.

Similar posts