Penn State Harrisburg launches Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Invent Penn State at Harrisburg

Penn State President Eric Barron talks with student entrepreneurs at Penn State Harrisburg's launch of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Credit: Penn State Harrisburg

Penn State President Eric Barron and University officials today joined with David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC, to launch the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Penn State Harrisburg. The center will enhance the entrepreneurial environment in central Pennsylvania and encourage students, faculty and community members to transform their intellectual property and creative works into local businesses and industries. 

In May 2015, Barron awarded Penn State Harrisburg $50,000 as a part of his Invent Penn State initiative. Invent Penn State is focused on leveraging Penn State’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to bring to market needed ideas, products and services. The seed funding helps to support the center and its activities. 

As a part of this effort, Penn State Harrisburg has aligned with the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle and the College of Medicine in Hershey to create Invent Penn State in the Capital Region. The regional alliance of three Penn State locations will lead implementation of the Invent Penn State initiative in the Capital Region, with support from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC.

“With Penn State Harrisburg, the Penn State College of Medicine and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in such close proximity, the Capital Region brings together some of the best and brightest in the state,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “This is a hub for talent and innovation, with ample resources in business, engineering, medicine, law, entrepreneurship and related fields.

“With today’s dedication, we envision a focused effort to drive innovations and economic development based on the intellectual capital of our students, faculty and the surrounding communities.”

The center will assist individuals in the concept of commercialization of intellectual capital within the college community and foster local economic development. It will also help address impediments to successful startups, such as potential business owners’ lack of skills and startup financing, by providing a tool set for entrepreneurs-in-training.

“Penn State Harrisburg has a proud history of serving the higher education needs of central Pennsylvania and bringing the college’s intellectual resources to the benefit of the community. That tradition includes working in partnership with businesses, non-profits and state and local government,” said Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor Mukund Kulkarni. “Now, we are pleased to be able to extend the Invent Penn State goals within the region. This is the perfect time for us to take the next step in our evolution as a significant economic development driver in central Pennsylvania.”

As part of the Invent Penn State initiative, Penn State Harrisburg also has partnered with a local developer, Campus Heights, to provide the “Innovation Den,” a space where students and teams can collaborate and develop their emerging innovations. 

“We want our students to be involved with entrepreneurship through experience, to get their hands dirty, to learn good judgment, and to be increasingly comfortable dealing with complexity in a very uncertain environment,” said Kevin Harter, director of Penn State Harrisburg’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We want to feed their enthusiasm by counseling them in these pursuits, to provide access to the experience base in our community — in the 30,000 Penn State alumni that live in this region — and we want to provide them with a place to develop their creative ideas,” he said.

In addition to the incubator, the center will provide educational and advisory opportunities, working with other local economic development organizations to support growth of entrepreneurs in the community with the goal of boosting economic development in the Harrisburg region. 

“Today, economic development requires not only economic development partners, business partners, municipal partners — but must have university education and research partners,” said Harrisburg Chamber President and CEO Dave Black. “Business is about being more competitive, more agile with more talent and better ideas from young talent to stay competitive. The Penn State Harrisburg Region partnership is taking the next step.”

 “Our goal is to develop a lasting ecosystem of economic vitality built around an environment of innovation and support,” Harter added.

Along with Penn State Harrisburg, the Invent Penn State initiative has provided seed grant funding for entrepreneurship center programs at five additional Commonwealth Campus communities, including Penn State Abington, Penn State Behrend, Penn State Lehigh Valley, Penn State New Kensington and Penn State Wilkes-Barre.