Six Commonwealth Campuses receive seed funding to spur entrepreneurship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Supporting INVENT Penn State --  President Eric Barron’s vision of building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem around campuses throughout Pennsylvania -- six Commonwealth Campuses have been awarded seed funding aimed at enhancing local partnerships and entrepreneurial environments.

Penn State Abington, Behrend, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, New Kensington and Wilkes Barre submitted winning proposals to receive $50,000 in seed funding.

“We were impressed with both the number and quality of proposals that we received and the diversity of approaches they embodied,” said Neil Sharkey, vice president for research. “It was also beneficial to learn more about the existing entrepreneurial ecosystems in the communities of our Commonwealth Campuses, as well as the new creative ideas being forged.”

Barron announced in January the creation of INVENT Penn State, an initiative to leverage Penn State’s size and broad research strength to be a driver for job creation, economic development and student career success. With a $30 million investment, INVENT Penn State is taking a robust and strategic approach through development of academic programs, additional faculty and incentives, resources for start-ups and investors, partnerships with business and government and creation of physical spaces for entrepreneurs.

The six Commonwealth Campuses awarded seed funding were selected from among 16 entries. Six reviewers selected the projects in a competitive process with each proposal scored on vision, sustainability, feasibility, faculty and student engagement, community engagement and matching funds.

“This is an important initiative and a key part of INVENT Penn State’s focus,” said Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses. “Our goal is to provide seed funding to support community entrepreneurship activities, and we received many strong proposals from across our campuses. We envision spaces where students, faculty and community partners can network and develop their ideas.”

The winning proposals include (click on the links for more details)

- Penn State Abington: Abington Maker/Innovation Space Partnership Penn State Abington, in partnership with the Abington Art Center, will create a facility to bring together faculty, staff and students with members of the local community in a community resource that combines co-working spaces with an innovation hub. Since 2010 Abington has introduced several projects and initiatives with the goal of a space to partner with and serve the local community.

- Penn State Erie, the Behrend College: Innovation Commons Penn State Behrend's seed funding will support  “Innovation Commons,” a collaborative lab where students, faculty members and industry partners can develop product ideas, create prototypes and consult with lawyers, bankers, marketing experts and others who can support entrepreneurial projects.

- Penn State Harrisburg: The Center for the Next Step  Located near significant research centers and institutes, the Penn State Harrisburg center will provide entrepreneurial resources for students, faculty and community members. The center’s mission will be to encourage them to develop intellectual property and foster regional economic development.

- Penn State Lehigh Valley: SEED project In alliance with local economic and innovation development organizations, Penn State Lehigh Valley students, faculty and staff will work closely with community partners to develop and launch visionary ideas into meaningful plans, projects and services. Startup incubator Velocity has donated state-of –the art creative space for the project.

- Penn State New Kensington: The Penn State Alle-Kiski Economic Generator In creating the Alle-Kiski Valley’s most modern meeting and office space, Penn State New Kensington and regional partners will seek to spur local economic development by supporting idea generation, refinement and funding, and testing to bring products and ideas to market.

- Penn State Wilkes- Barre: Entrepreneurial and Business Development Lab As part of the City of Wilkes-Barre’s Innovation Squared Project to revitalize its downtown and expand businesses and jobs, Penn State Wilkes-Barre will support equipment needs and lecture and mentorship programs at the Entrepreneurial and Business Development Lab. Construction of the lab is set for the fall. The lab creates an environment which blends students and faculty of local colleges and universities and business and entrepreneurial leaders in a common workplace.