Success Story

Student Founders Can Get $15,000 to Work on Their Startup Over the Summer

Deadline to apply is Feb. 14.

The Summer Founders program will be all-virtual in summer 2021 and is now accepting applications. The program provides $15,000 to entrepreneurial teams with at least one Penn State student founder from any campus to work on their startup, social good, or nonprofit idea over the summer.

2021 Summer Founders application deadline: Feb. 14. Apply online today. Teams will be selected on March 14.

The 13-week program is designed to accelerate student startups by providing funding and mentorship, enabling students to work full-time (40 hours per week) on their ventures over the summer.

Startups accepted into the program have access to:

  • Equity- free $15,000 gift
  • 1-on-1 mentoring
  • Free server credits, SolidWorks and POWr tools
  • Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, for one year upon its reopening
  • Happy Valley LaunchBox’s network of 80-plus advisers
  • Up to $4,500 additional funding for customer discovery or paid interns

Eligibility information and key dates can be found at

“Summer Founders is a unique opportunity for students to focus full time on their startups, and to have the important trifecta of resources — mentorship, an innovation community and funding. The program has produced some of our best startups in the last few years,” says James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “We are super focused on removing barriers to entry, and we encourage all interested Penn State students from all campuses to apply.”

In 2020, seven startups were selected into the program from a pool of more than 50 applicants. One of these startups, Girls Code the World, aims to inspire girls to pursue STEM-related fields by providing them with passionate role models in their communities. Girls Code the World was founded by Sydney Gibbard, a Penn State Schreyer Honors College student studying biomedical engineering and pre-medical sciences, and Mina Shokoufandeh, a Tufts University student studying biology, biomedical sciences and French.

“The Summer Founders program has given us the opportunity to legitimize our organization and has provided numerous connections that we would not have been able to make otherwise,” Shokoufandeh said. “It is both a social and working experience, which is something Sydney and I did not see when exploring other programming or funding options.”

Some of Penn State’s most successful student startups in the last five years are Summer Founders program graduates, including Phospholutions and Moichor.

Summer Founders is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox. Startup funding is made possible through the donations of successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures.

For more information about the program, visit

For more information about Happy Valley LaunchBox, visit

To view more Penn State affiliated startups, visit

To find more student entrepreneur resources, visit