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Venture & IP Conference to showcase Penn State research innovations

The Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference, one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic, will take place April 28-29 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. The conference will highlight innovations from high-growth and emerging markets, showcase disruptive technologies and early-stage companies born from Penn State research, and feature two special keynote events.

General registration to the conference is currently open and will close on April 27.

“Our Venture & IP Conference is a tremendous showcase of the latest innovations, research, and startups to come out of Penn State that have a positive impact on the world,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “The conference is widely known for its interdisciplinary panels and keynote speakers. This year, we’re excited to feature two keynote sessions that will detail national market trends and showcase Penn State alumni who founded startup companies that reached $1 billion in valuation.”

The first keynote session, featuring Doug Farren, managing director of the National Center for the Middle Market, will cover the macroeconomic outlook of current market conditions and trends in the United States economy. Taking place as a breakfast keynote from 7:30-8:45 a.m. on April 29, Farren will give a data-rich overview of economic trends impacting small and midsized companies.

The Penn State Unicorn Panel, featuring alumni whose venture-backed startup companies have crossed the $1 billion valuation threshold, will be the second keynote session of the conference, taking place on April 29 from 1:30-2:20 p.m. Moderated by Ryan Newman, managing director at Goldman Sachs, the panel will feature Ash Ashutosh, founder of Actifio (acquired by Google), and Mo Bhende, co-founder and CEO of Karat. Actifio is an enterprise cloud data management system, and Karat transforms the interviewing process by conducting highly predictive technical interviews for clients.

Newman, the co-chair of the conference, is a graduate of the Smeal College of Business and a Schreyer Scholar alumnus. He also hosts the Invent Penn State Dare to Disrupt podcast that features Penn State alumni innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders and the stories behind their success. Ashutosh graduated from Penn State with a master’s in computer science and Bhende graduated from Penn State with degrees in math and economics.

“I am honored to be co-chair for the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference and excited to moderate the Penn State Unicorn Panel keynote event,” Newman said. “Penn State alumni are developing innovations, startups, and technology that are disrupting entire industries. Ash and Mo founded startups that revolutionized the data management and technical interviewing landscapes, respectfully, en route to having their companies valued at more than $1 billion.”

Below are additional highlights of this year’s Venture & IP Conference:

Student Startup Showcase
Thursday, April 28, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Venture & IP Conference will commence with the Student Startup Showcase. Hosted by President Eric Barron and Senior Vice President for Research Lora Weiss, the Student Startup Showcase is a forum for the University’s best and brightest student entrepreneurs to share with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs how their discoveries are having a positive impact on the world. This year’s student startups consist of Inc.U Competition finalists, in addition to others.

Tech Tournament
Thursday, April 28, 3-5 p.m.

The Tech Tournament showcases disruptive technologies and early-stage companies born of Penn State’s robust and diverse research enterprise. This year, seven teams will compete for a grand total of $160,000 in innovation awards, including a first-place prize of $75,000, which will be used to help teams move their innovations into the marketplace.

Interdisciplinary Panels

The conference features interdisciplinary panels and sessions that bring together academia, industry, economic development, and policy experts on current innovation topics. Below are this year’s sessions:

  • Breaking Down Barriers to Capital: New and Innovative Models for Creating More Equitable Access to Capital for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs, April 28, 12:45-1:45 p.m. – This session will highlight an innovative pilot fund designed to increase access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs across America and how fund managers are leveraging this new approach to jumpstart their funds.
  • Small Market, Big Opportunities: The Wilkes-Barre Early Stage Technology Scene, April 28, 2-3 p.m. – This session will detail the importance and focus of growing more companies in small markets like Wilkes-Barre.
  • IP 101: What Every Startup Needs to Know About IP Protection, April 29, 9-10 a.m. – This panel will discuss different types of intellectual property protection, common intellectual property issues that startups face, and best practices on how to manage those risks.
  • Bootstrapping from $0 – $250 million in 6 years: How Tuft & Needle Disrupted and Catalyzed Change in the Mattress Industry, April 29, 10-11 a.m. – This fireside chat led by Scott Woods of West Arete and JT Marino, founder of Tuft & Needle, will detail how Marino bootstrapped his company to become the largest online mattress retailer in the world.
  • Preparing for Exit Upon Entry, April 29, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – This panel of investors, financial advisors, and successful founders will focus on sharing best practices, advice, and experiences in preparing for outside investment or exit transactions.

Venture Connection

Venture Connection is a matchmaking event consisting of more than 800 meetings between entrepreneurs and venture capitalist investors, who are pre-paired based on industry and capital needs, among other key criteria. Venture Connection will take place on both days of the Venture & IP Conference.

About the Venture & IP Conference

Founded in 2016, the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference is one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic and draws more than 600 attendees, including over 70 startup ventures and more than 40 investment firms from across the country. The conference highlights innovations from high-growth and emerging markets, including IT, energy, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, health care, B2B and B2C, among others.

To view more Penn State-affiliated startups, visit the Startup Navigator. To find Penn State-affiliated intellectual property available for licensing, visit the IP Navigator.