Only in Philly: Pharma doc wins software prize

Josh Kopelman, ex of eBay's and now co-head of First Round Capital, the busiest venture capital firm based around Philadelphia, still likes to back hometown companies, though his firm has long since gone national, and he says today's technology makes it easier than ever to track investments far from home. More from Kopelman here.

One thing that crimps Philadelphia's role as a software center - it's not a lack of money, especially now that it's cheaper than ever to start a software-based firm - but the lack of software engineers hereabouts.

If he were looking for drug experts, Kopelman told me, he could find a boatload within a marathon run of his West Conshy office, given all the Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Teva, Shire, AstraZeneca alumni that crowd the 202 corridor, plus the local hospitals and med and pharma schools.

As if to prove his point:

To encourage the local geeks-in-training, First Round-backed Monetate Inc. this Spring sponsored an open-source coding contest.

The winner was -- a pharma student, Michael Schroeder, of Warren, NJ, who last month took his Ph.D. from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He's been working at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in West Philly, where he built an emergency-room pharmacy supply tracking system, among other projects, Monetate's Kristin Talmadge told me. 

Schroeder won the prize for a drug-shortage advisory app. More on Monetate's prizewinners here. And for more on First Round and the Monetate contest, see Philly Tech News here.