UNIVERSITY PARK — As part of its Invent Penn State initiative, Penn State University announced four new seed grants, each valued at $50,000, designed to bolster entrepreneurship and economic development in communities surrounding Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth.
The funding will grow the university’s effort to include 21 hubs for innovation spread across Pennsylvania including The THINK Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre – an undertaking introduced by President Eric J. Barron just two and a half years ago.
“As a major public research university, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs and providing the tools to take great ideas to the next level,” Barron said in a news release. “Penn State is uniquely positioned with its Commonwealth campuses for each Innovation Hub to have a meaningful impact on student career success and to become a vital part of the Pennsylvania ecosystem, driving local economies and job creation.”
This year’s grant recipients include the following Penn State campuses: Beaver, Dubois, Greater Allegheny and Hazleton.
The 21 innovation hubs and programs across the state use partnerships with local community organizations and local industry to meet the needs of their unique business startup ecosystem.
Through a competitive process, the winning grant proposals include varying combinations of training, mentorship and space to improve entrepreneurial leadership and spur economic development. The programs and services of each center or program are available free of charge to Penn State students and faculty, as well as community members who are not directly affiliated with Penn State.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Dale Jones stated, “With Invent Penn State seed grant funding, we established an Innovation Hub in Wilkes-Barre for our surrounding area. We are working with our partners — the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and local colleges and universities — to support student entrepreneurs with resources and mentors.”
Even with only five of the 21 innovation hubs open for the full first year, results demonstrate Penn State’s re-envisioned land-grant mission to support economic development, job creation and student career success.
• 2500+ faculty, staff and students engaged in entrepreneurial activity
• 100s of community entrepreneurs were supported
• 80 new products were developed
• 79 startups were launched
• 110 student internships were created.
“We are building momentum in establishing a culture where entrepreneurialism is embedded into who we are as an institution, especially for our students,” Barron said. “We believe that if we remove obstacles that stand in the way of launching new businesses, we open up endless opportunities to thrive.”