Success Story

  • Student founders with President Barron at 2019 Startup Week reception

Explore innovation, entrepreneurship at Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC

Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC returns April 4-8 with in-person, hybrid and virtual events. Students from all Penn State campuses will have opportunities to explore innovation and entrepreneurship, learn from passionate changemakers and connect with industry leaders from diverse backgrounds.

In its sixth year as a university-wide event, Startup Week will feature keynote speakers and panels highlighting women trailblazers, innovation during the pandemic and the economic impact of entrepreneurship within our communities, among other topics. In one keynote event, Penn State alumnus and Tuft & Needle co-founder JT Marino will discuss his startup journey, the impact of his company and entrepreneurship’s role in the economy.

“Startup Week provides a tremendous and diverse range of resources for students across all Penn State campuses,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “Students can connect and learn from successful alumni, explore entrepreneurship and emerging technology and learn firsthand from founders who have built impactful businesses. After attending Startup Week events, students will leave with knowledge about innovation and entrepreneurship that they will carry with them during their time at Penn State and throughout their careers.”

Other events and activities include student pitch competitions, networking events, workshops and startup and business career fairs, all of which provide opportunities for students to connect with Penn State alumni and industry leaders.

“Penn State is a powerful force for entrepreneurship in our Commonwealth,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president in Central Pa. “PNC enthusiastically supports Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, because our success—and the success of our neighbors and communities—hinges on a vibrant marketplace steeped in innovation.”

Startup Week events are open to all Penn State students. Attendees are encouraged to check the Startup Week schedule to confirm each event’s details and whether registration is required.

Featured Hybrid Event Keynote Speakers and Panels

Students can engage with keynote speakers and panelists who are among the leading minds in entrepreneurship and innovation. Each keynote speaker session will contain a Q&A with students. All keynote sessions and panels will be held as hybrid events, hosted in person at the Penn State Innovation Hub at 123 S. Burrowes Street, State College, PA 16801. All livestream links will be available on the Startup Week schedule. This year’s featured topics and speakers include:

Panel Discussion: “Women Trailblazers: Securing Capital in a Male-Dominated Space”
Monday, April 4, 7:15-8:15 p.m.
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

Across the United States, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses that generate about $1.8 trillion annually. Despite the growing number of women business owners, only 2.3% of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs. Join us for a panel discussion featuring female founders, as they share their successes, adversities and experience with obtaining capital in a male-dominated space. Panelists are listed below:

  • Moderator: Lee Erickson, Penn State ’13 (associate director of economic development and student programs, Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization)
  • Panelist: Birgitt Boschitsch, Penn State ’18 (co-founder & CEO, spotLESS Materials)
  • Panelist: Linsey Covert, Penn State ’06 (founder & CEO TEAMology)
  • Panelist: Dana Wilson, Penn State ’23 (founder & CEO, CHIP)

Panel Discussion: “Pandemic Pivot: Innovation in Business During COVID-19”
Tuesday, April 5, 7:15-8:15 p.m.
Penn State Innovation Hub, 1st Floor

The pandemic forced founders and companies to reassess their business operations. From adopting new technology to adjusting to remote work habits, leaders needed to demonstrate flexibility and resilience to keep going and not give up when things got tough. This panel discussion will showcase business leaders who pivoted during the pandemic while finding ways to flourish. Participating panel members include:

  • Moderator: Tim Simpson (Engineering)
  • Panelist: Justin Rosenberg, Penn State ’04 (founder & CEO, honeygrow)
  • Panelist: Maureen Mulvihill, Penn State ’89, M.S. ’91, PhD ’96 (president & CEO, Actuated Medical)
  • Panelist: Dr. Cheryl Robinson (ForbesWomen contributor, coach, writer, international speaker, leadership workshop developer)
    • Robinson successfully defended her dissertation on how individuals successfully pivot in their careers.

Keynote Speaker JT Marino: “Cultivating Communities: Entrepreneurship’s Role in our Economy”
Wednesday, April 6, 6-7 p.m.
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

With 31.7 million small businesses across the United States, they demonstrate a tremendous impact on the economy and communities. Exemplifying this impact, Penn State alum JT Marino (’09), co-founder of Tuft & Needle (T&N), entered and disrupted the sleep industry with a $6,000 personal investment in 2012. The business has since grown to producing more than $200 million in annual revenue profitably with no outside investments in less than six years. Learn from Marino’s entrepreneurial journey and discover his company’s impact at this keynote event.

Panel Discussion: “Strengthening Society: How Entrepreneurship Benefits Our World”
Wednesday, April 6, 7:15-8:15 p.m.
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

Future generations depend on the resources that businesses and communities provide for them in the world today. Social entrepreneurs, those who explore business opportunities that have a positive impact on society, are at the heart of finding, developing, and funding solutions that directly address these important issues. This panel will share how it has made a positive impact on the world through social entrepreneurship and business. Panel members include:

Startup Market & Small Business and Startup Career Fair
Tuesday, April 5, 5-7 p.m.
Penn State Innovation Hub, 1st and 6th floor

Presented by Penn State Career Services, the Small Business and Startup Career Fair is a university-wide recruitment fair for students who are seeking opportunities within a small business or startup environment. The fair, which is open to all students of academic year or major, will feature employers who are seeking candidates for full-time, internship, co-op and research positions.

Meanwhile, Startup Market is a university-wide resource fair for students who are interested in seeking involvement with organizations, academic pathways, and community resources at Penn State that align with entrepreneurship and innovation. Open to all students of any academic year or major, Startup Market will feature academic and entrepreneurial resources in addition to startups and student-led initiatives to help provide a startup mindset to students during their time at Penn State.

Student Pitch Competitions

Startup Week features numerous student pitch competitions from across Penn State campuses, many of which include prizes and rewards such as funding, networking resources and mentoring. These competitions include the Inc.U Competition, which consists of six student startups competing for $30,000 in funding, and the Happy Valley VC & Innoblue Pitch Competition, which offers prizes totaling $25,000.

From 6-8 p.m., Thursday, April 7, the top teams from each competition will be honored at a Student Recognition and Networking Reception (invitation only) at the Penn State Innovation Hub, featuring Penn State President Eric Barron and PNC Regional President of Central Pa. Jim Hoehn.

About Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC

An integral part of the broader Invent Penn State initiative, Startup Week powered by PNC is a university-wide event that connects students with innovative alumni and pioneers who are achieving success in a variety of industries and disciplines. Throughout the week, students discover, explore, experience and celebrate entrepreneurship.

For more information on Startup Week, including a full schedule of events, visit Participants can engage with and follow Startup Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PSUStartupWeek and #PennStateStartup.