The University City Science Center, which oversees three million square feet of offices, labs, stores and even apartments for Penn, Drexel, CHOP and other big institutions, has tapped Mike DiPiano, co-founder of the 20-year-old, Radnor-based NewSpring investment group, as its new board chairman.
DiPiano swaps board titles with Craig R. Carnaroli, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania, who chaired the center since 2011.
Carnaroli, who succeeded Philadelphia lawyer Richard Jaffe as chair, oversaw the center’s 2015 partnership with developers Wexford Science & Technology and Ventas to manage and expand the center’s properties, which now include 16 buildings spreading west from Drexel and north from Penn, branded as “uCity Square.”
That included the redevelopment of the former University City High School site, starting with last fall’s opening of the center’s 345,000-square-foot building at 3675 Market St., and the transfer of lab space management duties to Massachusetts-based Cambridge Innovation Center and BioLabs, who boosted lab rental fees and added services to attract better-funded start-ups.
Carnaroli also oversaw last year’s selection of former Safeguard Scientifics chief executive Steve Zarrilli to run the science center afterStephen Tang departed to become CEO of Orasure, in Bethlehem. Carnaroli remains as a center vice chair and executive-committee member -- which DiPiano was before he stepped up.
DiPiano’s NewSpring is one of the Philadelphia area’s largest private-equity firms, with $1.8 billion in assets under management at business-services, healthcare and information-technology firms. NewSpring, founded in 1998, has backed 150 start-ups, expansions and recapitalizations since its founding 20 years ago, mostly at companies outside the Philadelphia area.
Under Carnaroli, the center grew “significantly," Zarrilli said in a statement. Besides overseeing new buildings, the center expanded activities at its Quorum entrepreneurs’ events center and Venture Cafe and its financing and tech assistance programs.
Since its founding in the early 1960s, the center has balanced its mission to encourage science employers to grow in Philadelphia with demand from college-affiliated tenants who have made University City one of the region’s most expensive office sub-markets.
Philadelphia, once a computing-industry pioneer, now trails rival cities in California, Texas, and New York and Boston as a software center but has developed as one of the leading U.S. biotech centers despite a perennial lack of locally-based growth capital.
Carnaroli said he’s stepping down from the top board post with the center larger and more active than when he became chair, and added in a statement that it had been “a privilege" to work with its staff and volunteers, and that “the future looks bright.”
Besides elevating DiPiano at its June 21 meeting, the center’s board added Patrick T. Harker, the dual-Ph.D. economist-and-engineer who ran the Wharton School and the University of Delaware before taking over as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in 2015, as its latestdirector.
Harker has advocated expanded tech and manufacturing education at high schools and public colleges to help fill jobs at U.S. tech firms, which have complained that U.S. schools aren’t preparing enough job-ready skilled workers or engineers.