Investment aims to increase economic development, tech innovation, and tech start-ups

innovation-parkPennsylvania State University is investing $30 million to bring awareness to student innovations, boost student success, spur economic development, and shine a spotlight on the university system’s Innovation Park at Penn State.

The Invent Penn State initiative also intends to increase the number of technology business start-ups in Penn State campus communities, Penn State President Eric Barron said.

Innovation Park features a combination of office, manufacturing, and research space set up to support entrepreneurs and established businesses.

(Next page: What the $30 million investment will include)

The $30 million investment includes development of additional knowledge commercialization space, venture fairs and competitions; matching of experienced entrepreneurs with new opportunities; recognizing faculty who focus on commercial applications of their research; and communications.

Many components of the initiative expand or build on activities already underway throughout the University and Innovation Park at Penn State.

Barron announced a new $1.5 million annual program that had a “soft start” 2014, The Fund For Innovation. The program provides Penn State colleges matching awards from The Penn State Research Foundation for faculty and primarily graduate student proof-of-concept and proof-of-relevance work strongly focused on commercialization.

“It’s an opportune time to be at Innovation Park,” said Innovation Park Director Dan Leri. “We’re excited the President and the entire administration is focusing effort and resources on converting Penn State knowledge to commercial impact. It’s a heavy and difficult lift to convert raw knowledge into a meaningful value proposition for a set of customers – with the goal of creating shareholder value, economic impact, and net new wealth. We need additional experienced, domain-specific talent and more financial resources to increase our chances of success.”

The pipeline for new businesses at Innovation Park is also filling. The Ben Franklin TechCelerator recently began offering entrepreneurs a 10-week boot camp. The program has graduated 36 entrepreneur teams in fields ranging from drone technology to medical devices to educational technology, resulting in 34 new companies. Graduates include a Vodafone contest winner and a Nokia Sensing Xchallenge finalist.

The next TechCelerator Boot Camp starts March 31st at Innovation Park at Penn State.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione