As part of its Invent Penn State at the Capitol, Penn State University announced four new $50,000 innovation hub seed grants designed to bolster entrepreneurship and economic development in communities surrounding Penn State campuses. With today’s announcement, the University’s effort grows from 17 to 21 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania–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 were Penn State Beaver, Penn State Dubois, Penn State Greater Allegheny and Penn State Hazleton. While the hubs receive funding from Penn State, they are also expected to form partnerships with local community organization and industry to help meet the needs of their specific community.
The winning grants proposals were selected through a competitive process focused on the varying combinations of training, mentorship and space to improve entrepreneur leadership and spur economic development a campus could provide. The innovation hubs are open to the public and provide their services and programs free of charge for Penn State students and faculty, as well as community members not directly affiliated with Penn State.
Despite only 5 of the 21 innovation hubs being open for the entire first year, the results have been promising and exemplify Penn State’s re-envisioned land-grant mission to support economic development, job creation and student career success. In their first full year the five open hubs were opened:
“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 junior at Penn State, is oen example of a student with a bright idea who utilized the free resources the innovation hubs provide. Roda had suffered a concussion while playing ice hockey in high school, but the standard tests at the time didn’t detect it right away. After working with Happy Valley LaunchBox, Roda founded his company, Reflexion Interactive Technologies, and 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.”
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.
Penn State President