Success Story

Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization appoints two new directors

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two director appointments were made to the Penn State Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization this September, expanding expertise within the University’s innovation ecosystem. Steve Carpenter has been appointed as director of research startups, effective September 18. Brad Zdenek has been appointed director of economic development and student programs, effective September 25.

“With these newly appointed directors, the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization will continue to raise the bar for what a university-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem can look like,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “Both of these individuals have contributed greatly to the Penn State community and clearly recognize how essential it is to continue to build and improve upon the systems and processes needed to support our researchers and entrepreneurs. It is with great pleasure I welcome them into their new roles.”

Carpenter has been involved with supporting Pennsylvania startups for the past 20 years. He has held various positions with Life Science Greenhouse Investments, a Pennsylvania-based early-stage Venture Capital firm, including serving as vice president and then senior vice president over the past 10 years.

He has also served, and will continue to serve, as an adjunct instructor of entrepreneurial finance at Penn State Smeal College of Business. Within Smeal, he served as the Garber Fund program administrator, managing investments in startup companies selected by students as part of the MBA course curriculum.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA in entrepreneurship and finance from Penn State.

In his new role as director of research startups, Steve will be focused on supporting the development of startups based on university research discoveries.  In that capacity, he will oversee Penn State’s startup pipeline and Startup Leadership Network, a membership-based group of serial entrepreneurs that provides Penn State technology startups with guidance and mentorship to accelerate their technology development and market entry. Steve will also provide oversight of Penn State’s NSF I-Corps-related entrepreneurial training activities.

This position was recently held by Jim Pietropaolo, who will continue to manage day-to-day activity of the Startup Leadership Network as he begins a phased retirement.

Zdenek was most recently the innovation strategist and program manager for the Penn State Nittany AI Alliance, responsible for providing direction in the formation and refinement of unit goals, partnerships, and strategic planning. Previously within Penn State, he served as the director of program development and instructional design and as an innovation strategist for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning.

He was previously an applied research & development/professional development task lead with the Regional Education Lab – Mid-Atlantic, where he directed the design and execution of professional development workshops focused on bridging scientifically valid research, policy, and practice.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Flagler College.

In his new role as director of economic development and student programs, Zdenek will be focused on developing new strategies and programs that increase the economic impact of Invent Penn State’s state-wide LaunchBox & Innovation Network, as well as increasing opportunities for Penn State students to build entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, engage in, and identify new entrepreneurial opportunities. He will achieve this by overseeing Invent Penn State programs such as Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC and the Inc.U Competition. This position was recently held by Lee Erickson, who has begun phased retirement.

About the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization

A strategic unit of the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization leads Penn State’s entrepreneurship and economic development programs, including management of the University’s startup portfolio, development of programs for Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank and the LaunchBox & Innovation Hub Network, and administration of the Invent Penn State initiative and its entrepreneurship and innovation storytelling.