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New i2n director Matt Cabrey wants to expand organization’s support for startups across the region

By John George – Senior Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal Oct 24, 2023


Three years after departing as executive director of Select Greater Philadelphia, Matt Cabrey is once again working to build the region’s economy.

Cabrey has a new role leading the Ideas x Innovation Network, or i2n, a public-private partnership initiated by the Chester County Economic Development Council to support early stage and technology-driven companies through their entire life cycle.

As i2n’s director, Cabrey said he wants to accomplish two primary goals.

“I want to elevate the brand awareness of i2n and work to have an impact across all of Southeastern Pennsylvania,” he said. “We want to make i2n a more recognizable entity.”

When it was first established 12 years ago, i2n’s primary role was to administer tax credits to companies under the Keystone Innovation Zone program. The Keystone Innovation Zone was created to support for-profit companies less than eight years old in any of the 29 KIZ zones across the state, including the five in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Over time, i2n expanded into other funding areas such as research grants, equity investment and commercial loans; workplace location assistance; guidance and mentoring; and networking.

The organization says it has distributed more than $16.8 million in direct state tax credits and grants to startups, resulting in the creation of more than 2,000 jobs and more than $257 million in startup capital raised by participating companies.

Cabrey said while serving as Select Greater Philadelphia’s executive director for more than six years from 2014 to 2020, he focused on boosting the region’s economy by working to attract companies to relocate to or set up operations in the area. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Cabrey said that, like a lot of people, he re-evaluated what he was doing.

At the same time, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia — of which Select Greater Philadelphia was a part — reorganized its programs and re-positioned Select’s role as part of the CEO Council for Growth.

Cabrey ended up launching his own marketing, communication and business advisory firm called Growing Greater to help organizations achieve their brand, reputation and growth goals. He said he will be using the same business leadership and program management skills he used at Select Greater Philadelphia and at Growing Greater for his new role at i2n.

In addition to Cabrey, i2N brought in Gino Bradica to serve as director of technology entrepreneurship.

Gino Bradica.CCEDC.i2n

Bradica has spent the past 25 years in the medical device industry and is working to launch his own company in the cell biology arena.

Earlier this year, he said, he saw i2n’s job posting. “It was a lot of what I had already been doing,” Bradica said. “I thought it was a perfect fit for me.”

Bradica said his role at i2n is to help startup companies, entrepreneurs and innovators transform their ideas from concept to commercialization.

Cabrey and Bradica are taking over the leadership of i2n from Patrick Hayakawa, who is now a vice president at Sycamore International Inc.

Guy Fardone, the chairman of i2n and executive chairman of Bridgepointe Technologies, said the leadership position at i2n is one that “should not and does not last forever.” Fardone said Hayakama was recruited from the industry trade group Pennsylvania Bio (now Life Sciences Pennsylvania) and did a “fantastic” job for i2n before decided to leave for a job in the private sector.

“We are super-excited to have Matt and Gino on board, at a time when I2n has never been stronger in terms of what we are doing in the market,” Fardone said. “We think there is the opportunity to push things forward. They bring new ideas and new influences. … One of the key things we want to have them do is take a look at i2n’s messaging and value proposition and expand it, expand i2n’s sphere of influences. We also want to expand the relationships i2n has. We’re not just focused on startup tech and biotech companies. We are supporting emerging growth companies too.”

Cabrey said i2n’s focus will be supporting medical technology and other technology companies using its four buckets of “funding, workplace, targeted guidance and mentoring, and strategic networking and connections.”

In addition to raising awareness of i2n, their plan is also to increase collaborations with both business and academia and boost the impact the organization has not just on entrepreneurs, but also on organizations that work with entrepreneurs.

“We want to work with [entrepreneurial] organizations like Philly Startup Leaders and Startup Bucks [in Bucks County],” Cabrey said. “We want to collaborate and not compete with each other. We are all in this together.”

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