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Benjamin’s Desk Announces its New Challenge Center powered by 1776


Partnership will connect the Philadelphia region’s startup ecosystem to a global network committed to solving complex challenges

Philadelphia, PA — Today, Benjamin’s Desk announced the newly-formed Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center powered by 1776, a strategic alliance bringing a global network to inject new energy into Philadelphia’s rise as an innovation hub. Mayor Jim Kenney and officials from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce joined the announcement from Philadelphia’s City Hall on May 2, 2017 at 2pm ET. Benjamin’s Desk is a Philadelphia-based entrepreneurial and innovation network. 1776 is a Washington, DC-based organization that empowers startup ecosystems around the world to solve complex challenges.

“Our new partnership with 1776 brings Philadelphia into a network of hyperconnected, entrepreneurial communities across the country,”  said Anthony Maher, Benjamin’s Desk Co-CEO. “Not only will we shine a light on Philadelphia’s world-class business ecosystem, we can partner with peers in other cities whose problems our city’s startups are uniquely positioned to help solve.”

“As cities face greater challenges and seek to serve our citizens through digital technologies, we welcome an initiative like the Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center powered by 1776,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Philadelphia is home to leading institutions and corporations as well as innovative startups who can work collaboratively to bring new ideas to our city.”

Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center will bolster Philadelphia’s ascendance as a global startup and innovation hub. The Center’s leadership is collaborating with the Kenney Administration, in particular the Department of Commerce, to align with key civic priorities.Through the partnership, 1776 will provide Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center members access to UNION, its digital platform that connects networks of innovation communities globally.

“Philadelphia has been a rising startup ecosystem and now we are partnering with 1776 to develop the Challenge Center as a unique place where startups, institutions, and government can come together to solve complex challenges,” said Shelton Mercer, serial entrepreneur, innovation expert and Benjamin’s Desk Principal, who will direct the initiative. “The Challenge Center will integrate Benjamin’s Desk region-leading, entrepreneurial network with 1776’s global connections and UNION digital platform.”

“This partnership developed through a shared vision of connecting startup ecosystems locally and globally to solve complex challenges. Through Benjamin’s Desk role as a leading startup hub and connector in the innovation space we are excited to bring the global resources of 1776 to the Philly region,” Peter Cherukuri, 1776 President and Chief Innovation Officer, said. “Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center powered by 1776 will provide a hub for collaboration between startups building new technologies and organizations seeking to innovate and solve complex challenges.”

Corporate and institutional leaders, startup founders, experienced business mentors seeking more details, or who wish to join the initiative, should email

Further updates, including member and event announcements, partnership opportunities, and media, will be published to


About 1776

1776 is a public benefit corporation that empowers startup ecosystems around the world to solve complex challenges. To accomplish this, we leverage our digital startup network, UNION; physical campuses in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Dubai; a global startup pitch competition, Challenge Cup; and deep staff expertise in regulatory issues. We accelerate connections and outcomes among startups, corporations, and public institutions. For more information, please visit and follow @1776 on Twitter and @1776vc on Instagram.

About Benjamin’s Desk 

Born in Philadelphia, we are a next-generation business incubation engine.  Our mission is to spur innovation, accelerate business growth, facilitate investment, and foster thriving companies that create jobs, generate revenue, impact communities, and drive growth to every corner of the world.  Equipped with a ubiquitous network of shared workspaces, diversified business programming and events, customized growth services and coaching, and the region’s top entrepreneurs-in-residence, Benjamin’s Desk provides the space, community, resources, and expertise to help you innovate, impact, thrive, and grow. For more information, visit or email Media kits, photos, and other resources for reporters are available at