University Park, Pa., Feb. 5, 2018 – As part of its Invent Penn State initiative, Penn State University today announced four new seed grants, each valued at $50,000, designed to bolster entrepreneurship and economic development in communities surrounding Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth. With today’s announcement, the University’s effort has grown to include 21 hubs for innovation spread across Pennsylvania including Penn State Altoona Launchbox – an undertaking that was introduced by President Eric J. Barron just two and a half years ago.
“As a major public research university, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs and providing the tools to take great ideas to the next level,” said Eric J. Barron, president. “Penn State is uniquely positioned with its Commonwealth campuses for each Innovation Hub to have a meaningful impact on student career success and to become a vital part of the Pennsylvania ecosystem, driving local economies and job creation.”
This year’s grant recipients include the following Penn State campuses: Beaver, Dubois, Greater Allegheny and Hazleton. The 21 innovation hubs and programs across the state use partnerships with local community organizations and local industry to meet the needs of their unique business startup ecosystem. Through a competitive process, the winning grant proposals include varying combinations of training, mentorship and space to improve entrepreneurial leadership and spur economic development. The programs and services of each center or program are available free of charge to Penn State students and faculty, as well as community members who are not directly affiliated with Penn State.
According to Penn State Altoona Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel Wherry, ““Altoona LaunchBox is yet another symbol of the commitment to the economic revitalization taking place throughout Blair County that is shared by the University, Penn State Altoona, and our community.”
Even with only 5 of the 21 innovation hubs open for the full first year, results demonstrate Penn State’s re-envisioned land-grant mission to support economic development, job creation and student career success.
- 2500+ faculty, staff and students engaged in entrepreneurial activity
- 100s of community entrepreneurs were supported
- 80 new products were developed
- 79 startups were launched
- 110 student internships were created.
"We are building momentum in establishing a culture where entrepreneurialism is embedded into who we are as an institution, especially for our students,” added Barron. “We believe that if we remove obstacles that stand in the way of launching new businesses, we open up endless opportunities to thrive.”
Matthew Roda, a current junior at Penn State, is one example of a student with a bright idea who accessed the free and readily available resources to help launch his startup Reflexion. In his junior year of high school, Roda suffered a concussion while playing ice hockey but the standard tests at the time didn’t pick up on it right away. He now runs a company that has developed a new testing system he hopes will prevent other young athletes from going through what he did.
“The support from Penn State has been phenomenal, particularly with the amount of advice and resources made available to us at the Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College,” said Roda, co-founder, Reflexion. “I do not believe we could have got where we are without the help of Penn State.”