What’s it take to receive the Visionary Excellence Award? Read our interview with Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA, President & CEO of the University City Science Center, as we highlight one of the key organizations that drive the Greater Philadelphia region. Join us to celebrate the 33rd Annual Excellence Award winners on Thursday, November 5 »


Who has been an inspiration to you as a business owner and why?

One of my favorite books is called The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley. Written by a couple of venture capitalists from Silicon Valley, The Rainforest transformed the way I think about innovation communities and the role that research parks, incubators and economic development organizations can play. The authors offer a unique and compelling recipe for developing innovation ecosystems that we’ve taken to heart at the Science Center. They contend that innovation cannot be engineered. Instead, innovation ecosystems are actual biological systems like Rainforests, with talent, ideas and capital serving as the nutrients that flow through the system. Central to this model is the “Keystone” species that bridges social distances and connects disparate parties together. Serving as a Keystone species has become one of the guiding pillars of our strategy at the Science Center.

What’s so special about the Philadelphia region business community?

Philadelphia is a city on the move. In the space of a year Philly will welcome Pope Francis, the Democratic National Convention, Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Tour and Forbes Under 30. Our skyline is reaching higher, our businesses and institutions are expanding, and over the past six years our city has attracted more millennials than any other city in America.

Philadelphia’s vibrancy has its roots in its history. As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is fond of saying, Philadelphia is America’s first startup. When the founding fathers gathered in Philly more than 200 years ago, they essentially drafted a business plan for the first democracy. To take it a step further, Colonial Philadelphia was also the nation’s first innov