IV. Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors
As the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's land-grant university, Penn State faculty and researchers have been involved in technology transfer for the economic and social benefit of the Commonwealth and the nation for 150 years. In pursuing the University's mission of education, research, and public service, faculty have long supported agriculture, industry, and community development. The vice president for research oversees the operation of several offices dedicated to ensuring that the benefits of University research are made available to the public.
Offices that can assist faculty in technology transfer and economic development activities include the following:
The Office of Technology Management assists faculty in the identification and disclosure of University discoveries that might lead to patentable or licensable technologies. Faculty who have made a significant finding or discovery that may have commercial application should contact the Intellectual Property Office prior to disclosure in publication, to determine what steps may be necessary to protect the idea. The office also helps faculty establish long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with industrial firms and stimulates industry/University cooperative research activities.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA (located in Innovation Park), provides investment capital (funding) and business support services to tech-based start-up companies, university spin-offs, and small, existing manufacturers engaged in R&D projects.
While most of the Center’s company investments have a payback obligation, manufacturers, who partner with a university to perform their research, can apply for a Ben Franklin Innovation Adoption Fund Grant to help defray the development costs. One of the Center’s primary goals is to identify opportunities for successful tech-transfer projects between Pennsylvania manufacturers and the Commonwealth’s world-class system of higher education led by Penn State University.
For example, a pioneering regional collaborative established in south central Pennsylvania, the Innovation Transfer Network (ITN), has created the opportunity for technology transfer among a dozen smaller colleges/universities and the area’s business community. This unique concept was the brainchild of several private and public partnerships including the Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP.
During its nearly 30-year tenure, the Center has also provided funding for university-based research and development projects, most recently in the area of clean, alternative energy applications. Ben Franklin also supports university-led Centers of Excellence that focus on targeted technology areas that will eventually benefit entire industry sectors such as plastics, food research, and nanoscale science.
For more information on the Ben Franklin Program in central and northern Pennsylvania, see www.cnp.benfranklin.org, or contact the State College office at 814-863-4558.
Innovation Park at Penn State is comprised of 118 acres designated to provide space, access to Penn State researchers and facilities, and business support services that help companies transfer the knowledge within the University to the marketplace and to foster economic development.