Success Story

2020 Summer Founders Program Draws Record Number of Teams & Increases Amount

A record number of student startups from across Penn State campuses are getting ready for the 2020 Summer Founders program, a 13-week entrepreneurial bootcamp offering mentoring, networking, resources and $15,000 in funding to teams of Penn State student entrepreneurs from all campus locations and the World Campus. This year, seven startups were selected from more than 50 applications. In past years the program awarded only $10,000 per team and selected five teams.

The Summer Founders program runs from May 20 to August 12, culminating in a Startup Showcase on August 12. When possible, students are invited to cowork at Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank in downtown State College during the summer, though this year teams may be working remotely.

The startups:



  • teamSTAT provides high-intensity athletes with the ability to monitor their heart rate during sporting events through a minimally invasive tracker in the form of a one-time use, stick-on patch. The patch provides coaches and trainers with real-time statistics about athletes enabling them to assess performance and minimize overexertion. The startup is led by Emily Robinson, Biomedical Engineering; Alyssa Peretin, Mechanical Engineering; Lucy Spicher, Mechanical Engineering; and Courtney Truskolasky, Mechanical Engineering – all students in Penn State’s College of Engineering.


  • Attention Grab uses app-based behavioral tracking coupled with artificial intelligence generation analysis of key metrics to provide the first step in determining if a patient should pursue medical assistance for an attention disorder. The team includes Glenn Hubbard, studying Economics and Math in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts; College of Engineering students Christian Trafford, Computer Engineering; Vaibhav Malla, IST; and Sarah Dinh, Mechatronics; as well as Smeal College of Business student, Jeremy Ye, Actuarial Science and Finance.


  • Vybrnt, is a social networking platform using AI to provide resources and a sense of community for underrepresented students across Penn State, including students of color, LGBTQA+, religious, and international students. The startup is led by College of IST student Joel Sakyi. The team also includes Christian Medford, Psychology; Bubune Owusu, Electrical Engineering; and Amaledu Bokil, Computer Science.



  • 3D Concrete Printing is an autonomous construction system to allow for greater design freedom and eliminate form work, which can result in moving human labor away from dangerous job sites. The effort is being led by Penn State graduate student Nate Watson, studying Additive Manufacturing and Design in the College of Engineering; Sven Bilen, professor and head of the College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs; and Ali Memari, College of Engineering professor and Bernard and Henrietta Hankin chair in Residential Building Construction, and director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.


The $15,000 in funding provided by Summer Founders can be used for housing, living, and other expenses and enable teams to work full time on their startup, social good, or non-profit over the summer.

Funding is made possible through the donations of successful entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures and is granted through the Penn State Development Office. Anyone interested in supporting the Summer Founders program should contact Heather Winfield, director of strategic initiatives in University Development at to learn more about tax deductible donations.

Summer Founders is a signature program of Invent Penn State, a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.

*Due to COVID-19, student teams may be asked to work remotely and the Student Showcase event on August 12th may be held virtually. Check the Summer Founders program website for updates.