MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- As part of Penn State President Eric Barron's INVENT Penn State initiative, Penn State Harrisburg has been awarded $50,000 in seed funding to help the college develop the Center for the Next Step, which will enhance entrepreneurial environments and encourage students, faculty and community members to transform their intellectual property and creative works for local businesses, industries and communities.
The Center will assist individuals in the concept of commercialization of intellectual capital within the college community and foster local economic development. It will also help address impediments to successful start-ups, such as potential business owners’ lack of skills and start-up financing, by providing a tool set for entrepreneurs-in-training.
“Penn State Harrisburg has always strived to be a leader in innovative and creative research,” Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor Mukund Kulkarni said. “With our expanding portfolio of industry-sponsored undergraduate capstone projects and our increasing number of faculty produced creative, scholarly and scientific works, we have seen many great ideas. There is an emerging need to nurture ideas beyond the initial first step. The Center for the Next Step is a logical evolution of our research efforts and ongoing outreach within the capital region.
“I am very pleased that the University has also recognized a need for this Center and selected this project as a funding recipient. This is a major first step to the creation of this Center that will join the college and community together in advancing their ideas into concepts beyond the University walls and into everyday use.”
The Center will leverage the college’s expertise to expand new business development for external and internal communities and provide entrepreneurial resources for faculty, students, and the community to explore innovation to develop educational, research and business products. New resources for these users will include a technology-based depository of resources for entrepreneurs, corporate and venture interactions and brainstorming sessions, and custom entrepreneurial outreach programs.
“The Center is intended to motivate faculty and students to think about the economic relevance of their creative ideas and to envision themselves as successful entrepreneurs,” Kulkarni said. “The region will benefit from new start-up activities. Businesses and other local organizations will benefit from trained graduates familiar with transforming ideas into practical applications. The Center will also strengthen Penn State Harrisburg’s outreach efforts with area businesses, industries and communities, and attract smart and ambitious students as these efforts become successful.”
Penn State Harrisburg was one of six Commonwealth campuses to submit winning proposals, including Abington, Erie, Lehigh Valley, New Kensington and Wilkes-Barre.
In January 2015, President Barron announced a new initiative for the University—one focused on leveraging Penn State’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to bring to market needed ideas, products, and services. Called “INVENT Penn State,” the initiative is a collaboration, one in which students, faculty and campuses work with businesses and communities across the Commonwealth to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians and, ultimately, the people of the world.
Barron has committed $30 million to putting into place the organization and people to guide and support its partners along their entrepreneurial pathways: working with students to encourage ideation, then helping them to kick-start those ideas into promising new companies; collaborating with communities and corporations, making available Penn State’s massive intellectual resources; partnering with alumni to mentor students, shepherd fledgling businesses and invest in promising, innovative start-ups.