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Philadelphia now home to new Microsoft Reactor

By Jeff Friedman, Director of Modern Government, Microsoft Corporation on August 2, 2016

Filed under Microsoft CityNext

Microsoft - Reactor Philadelphia at the Science Center
With the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, my hometown received a lot of attention—well-deserved, in my opinion. While the convention gave the city of brotherly love a short-term boost, Microsoft is making a long-term commitment in the form of a new Reactor. Located on the ground floor of the building that houses the University City Science Center, the nation’s first and largest urban research park, our new Microsoft Reactor is only a mile from City Hall and reflects a collaboration of the University City Science Center, Wexford Science + Technology and SeventySix Capital, a local venture capital firm.
As just the second of its kind in the nation (another Reactor is in San Francisco), the Philadelphia location will strengthen Microsoft’s presence in the region, where more than 350 employees work in our Malvern offices or adjacent Technology Center and the Microsoft Store at King of Prussia Mall. The new Reactor will provide an array of world-class resources and support for students, developers, entrepreneurs and startups, and enables us to bring together our partners, local government and civic leaders, and citizens to foster innovation, collaboration and economic development. Those of us in Microsoft CityNext and our Citizenship and Developer Experience (DX) organizations will be the primary groups to leverage the Reactor but all employees will be able to use the community-friendly, University City location showcasing all the latest devices and hardware, including HoloLens, Surface Hub, Internet of Things technologies, Microsoft Band, Xbox and more.
Dave Voyles, a DX technical evangelist, will make the Reactor his new office so that he can reach even more developers and students in workshops, and “serve as the eyes and ears of the Philadelphia (developer) community.” Dave and his colleague Amanda Lange will be based at the Reactor to host groups of startups and provide the technical support they need or automatically sign them up for Microsoft BizSpark, which provides free access to software, services and our Microsoft Azure cloud platform. “Rather than one business at a time, I can reach 30-40 people at once,” Dave explains, noting the Reactor will provide “unfettered access” to all of the vendor-neutral devices onsite and save developers from incurring costs running to hundreds of dollars or more.
For Donna Woodall, Northeast Citizenship & Public Affairs director, the new Reactor is “in the right place, at the right time” to focus on Philadelphia’s downtown core. Her team currently partners with organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America Inc., Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Eagles Charitable Foundation, Girls Who Code, FirstHand, the YMCA, YearUp, TechImpact and others. With the Malvern location—about 45 minutes from downtown—“the challenge has always been traffic; getting people to our site,” Donna said. With the new Reactor, “we’ll be hosting educational events and bringing in students, small businesses and entrepreneurs; on the flip side, it’s also about economic development.”
I’ve always believed that Philadelphia is awesome—just see my list and I’m sure you’ll agree. Now, with the recent Democratic Convention providing incredible national visibility and the new Reactor delivering a boost to downtown, I’m even prouder to call Philadelphia home!

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