John Swartley is the university’s inaugural chief innovation officer, while Benjamin Dibling will take over from Swartley at tech transfer office PCI.

John Swartley and Benjaming Dibling

John Swartley, until now the executive director of the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), the technology licensing office of the University of Pennsylvania, has been promoted to the university’s inaugural chief innovation officer.

He is replaced by Benjamin Dibling, who in turn has been promoted from deputy managing director to associate vice-provost for research and managing director of PCI.

Swartley has been with the university’s tech transfer team for more than 16 years, having originally joined the institution as senior director and head of new ventures in 2007. He was instrumental in restructuring what was then known as the Center for Technology Transfer into PCI.

In his new role, Swartley will be tasked with expanding and implementing Penn’s university-wide innovation agenda — working closely with the PCI team, and also with the university leadership, deans, researchers and other stakeholders, including external partners.

Swartley said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be able to continue to support Penn’s key strategic goals in my new role as CIO. I’m looking forward to working with stakeholders across the university to further expand and capitalise on our already robust innovation portfolio.

“It has been a true privilege and honour working with the amazing team at PCI, and am extraordinarily pleased to know that Ben Dibling has been chosen to take over as managing director. Ben is the ideal leader for PCI, and I am highly confident that the organisation is in great hands as we build beyond our last decade of success at Penn.”

Dibling has been with PCI since 2016 when he joined as executive director of licensing. He previously spent just over five years at the University of California, Los Angeles, and before that was at the University of Chicago for more than a decade — initially as a postdoc and then in tech transfer, first as a marketing intern, from 2004.

Dibling commented: “PCI has played a pivotal role in supporting the advancement of Penn innovations and discoveries towards new products and services for the benefit of society.

“Over the last few years, PCI has achieved record-breaking outputs in numerous key metrics, and it is considered to be one of the leading offices fostering innovation and commercialisation across all academic institutions and research centres.

“It’s been a privilege working with Penn’s world-class faculty and research community, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build on PCI’s success and lead the exceptional team at PCI in the next phase of commercialisation activities at Penn.”

You can learn more about the Penn Center for Innovation in our interview with Swartley and Dibling’s colleague Michael Poisel, who runs PCI Ventures, on Beyond the Breakthrough.

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).