Invent Penn State is expanding its footprint in Reading, PA to enable budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their ideas into businesses that positively impact the community. Penn State Berks recently opened its second LaunchBox location at the Goggleworks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington Street. It will augment the original LaunchBox Reading location at Penn State Health St. Joseph, 145 N. 6th Street.
In the last year, with one location open, Berks LaunchBox has engaged over 150 Penn State students, faculty and staff in entrepreneurial activities, served 20 community members through its makerspace and product development services and has led to five new companies renting space in the Berks community.
The Berks LaunchBox is open to members of the greater Reading community of all ages and serves as a resource for artists at GoggleWorks – a community art and cultural resource center designed to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education and enrich the community.
The Berks LaunchBox locations represent a unique and growing collaboration between Penn State and the local community, according to Patricia Leshinskie, facilities coordinator. “Both of the LaunchBoxes in Berks County help engage students and faculty, as well as physicians, medical staff, and the local citizens in helping to grow the local economy and improve the quality of life in the region.”
The new Berks LaunchBox offers a variety of opportunities to startups, such as a makerspace with fabrication tools, coworking space, and courses through Penn State. LaunchBox locations also support entrepreneurship with workshops and meet-ups focused on topics related to business development and technology, and youth programs.
The Invent Penn State seed grant program provides Penn State campuses, such as the one in Berks, with $50,000 grants for three consecutive years to launch or enhance entrepreneurial centers. The impact of these grants is felt across the Commonwealth with 21 Penn State undergraduate campus communities now offering coworking space, accelerators, legal and IP advice and rapid prototyping resources – all free to the community – designed to foster and drive innovation and economic growth.