Success Story

Penn State receives $1.8M EDA Venture Challenge Grant

Through the Build to Scale Venture Challenge award program, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has granted Penn State $1.8M over three years to support the translation of Penn State Research discoveries to the marketplace and assist small businesses across Pennsylvania. This project focuses on three crucial no‐cost services:

  1. The Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic (EAC) and Intellectual Property (IP) Clinic offered to entrepreneurs through the Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Network
  2. The Startup Leadership Network (SLN) offered in collaboration through Invent Penn State and Penn State Research
  3. The project management support for Penn State Research commercialization grants

This award scales highly successful Penn State entrepreneurship and startup services that have been funded, in part, through a prior Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) i6 Challenge grant.

“With EDA’s support, Penn State and our partners in economic development have been able to provide executive matchmaking services to dozens of ventures as well as support the formation of more than 1,200 new companies during the past 4 years,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research, director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization and principal investigator for the award. “With this ongoing support, we will be able to expand the impact of these successful programs and make greater contributions to Pennsylvania’s economic prosperity.”

Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance & IP Clinics

The EAC provides pro bono legal services to startups and early-stage businesses across PA while also providing Penn State Law students with practical professional experience. The law students provide businesses legal advice on matters related to business/entity formation, founder agreements, regulatory compliance and more.

The IP Clinic is run similarly to the EAC but focuses on IP law, providing clients with pro bono services relating to patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

The Venture Challenge grant will fund staff-attorney positions for the EAC and the IP Clinic, which will enable both clinics to increase the number of participating law students as well as the amount of client work performed statewide.

“This grant will enable the legal clinics to leverage the supervision by the staff attorneys to open the practical clinical experience to many more law students and thereby make it possible to increase the scope and scale of the free legal services that the clinics offer to startups and early-stage businesses throughout the Commonwealth, irrespective of any connection Penn State,” said Tom Sharbaugh, professor of practice at Penn State Law and the director of the EAC.

Startup Leadership Network (SLN)

The SLN matches seasoned executives across numerous industry domains and skill sets with University startups that need management support. The SLN launched a Board of Advisors program in 2020, which builds accountability and competence in board dynamics for first-time founders by matching them with an SLN-member composed board.

With support from the EDA Venture Challenge grant, the SLN will offer a new Mentor-in-Residence (MIR) program. This MIR program will select experienced industry experts to undertake specific hands-on projects, such as developing a go-to-market plan, to assist startups.

Proof-of-Concept Research Support

The award will expand the impact of Penn State Research with new Proof-of-Concept project management resources.

“Proof-of-Concept and research commercialization grants are an essential tool for advancing nascent technologies toward commercial readiness,” said Bin Yan, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Technology Management (OTM). “With new project management resources, we will be able to better support researchers with proof-of-concept funding as they advance new technologies toward industry-accepted milestones.”

About the Office of Entrepreneurship & 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 the LaunchBox & Innovation Network, and administration of the Invent Penn State initiative.