Success Story

Invent Penn State offers students $15,000 to work on their startup over the summer

Applications are now open for the 2023 Invent Penn State Summer Founders Program, which provides a $15,000 grant to entrepreneurial teams with at least one Penn State student to work full-time on their startup, social good or nonprofit over the summer. Applications are due March 9.  

The 13-week program, run in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, accelerates student startups by providing funding, mentorship and 1-on-1 coaching. Founders commit to work full-time, 40 hours per week, on their ventures for the duration of the program.  

Apply to the Summer Founders Program by March 9.  

There will be two information sessions prior to the application deadline for students to learn more about the program and application process. Those interested in attending an information session, held on February 15 and March 1, can register here. 

“Part of the goal of the Summer Founders Program is to ‘pour gas on the fires’ of student startups,” said Ben Nason, idea catalyst at Happy Valley LaunchBox. “It’s amazing to see how $15,000, in the hands of motivated and hardworking students, can really level up a business.”   

Teams accepted into the program also will have access to: 

  • Weekly meetings and 1-on-1 coaching sessions with entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss current challenges, share successes and learn from one another. 
  • A network of 60+ advisers to grow their network and accelerate their ventures. 
  • 24/7 access to Happy Valley LaunchBox and space in one of its team rooms with free Wi-Fi, coffee and printing. 
  • Up to $3,000 in funding for customer discovery through the Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site program. 
  • Funding for an intern for one semester through the SEDTAPP ENtern Program. 
  • One-year subscription to SolidWorks and plugins. 

Elevated barber wear startup SLCKR participated in the Summer Founders Program in 2021. The company just ended 2022 with over $140,000 in sales and is continuing to grow.  

“Summer Founders was great for us,” Johnson said. “The advisers gave us a good framework for how to look at our long-term objectives, and then boil those down into achievable week-to-week and month- to-month steps. They were also just great to bounce ideas off of, since they’re all very experienced founders themselves.”   

About the Summer Founders Program  

The Summer Founders Program is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank. Startup funding is made possible through the donations of successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. To learn more about supporting student startups at Penn State through a philanthropic gift, contact Heather Winfield, director of strategic initiatives in University Development, at 

This program was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.