Invent Penn State’s LaunchBox and Innovation Network has provided a wide array of no-cost entrepreneurial resources to innovators across the state for the past six years. The Network is comprised of 21 LaunchBox and innovation spaces embedded within Commonwealth Campus communities.
These spaces provide specialized programs to de-risk and accelerate startup companies including no-cost coworking space, makerspaces, accelerator programs, pitch competitions, speaker series, access to experts and mentors, and legal and intellectual property advice through Penn State Law clinics. All locations are open to community members, students, and faculty/staff alike with no University affiliation required to participate.
Since the first innovation space opened in 2015, the Network has:
- Engaged 16,964 faculty and students through its programs.
- Supported 5,979 community entrepreneurs.
- Graduated 626 startup teams from its accelerators.
- Created 431 new product development projects.
- Helped to launch 278 new Pennsylvania companies.
- Created 531 student internships.
- Garnered $28,293,286 in external matched/leveraged funds.
Each LaunchBox and innovation space provides programming and resources geared towards the specific business needs of their regional community members. With 96% of Pennsylvanians having a LaunchBox or innovation space within 30 miles of where they live or work, the Network is helping to address the need for entrepreneurial resources in more rural regions.
Additionally, the Network is committed to fostering inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems where all individuals experience a feeling of belonging and acceptance and have access to resources and services that support them in their unique entrepreneurial journeys.
Sisters and Penn State Berks alumnae Cory Dahlia Varona Corniel and Nicol Varona Cancelmo launched DN Organics, a natural hair care line created to empower women, in 2021. DN Organics utilized the Berks LaunchBox coworking space, gained access to mentors, and received one of five “Grow Your Startup Grants,” which connected the startup to additional mentors and resources. Watch to learn more about their journey.
In 2018, State College local and Penn State alumna Tamela Serensits launched Argolytics and flagship product Trendable, a software that enables manufacturers to easily collect, analyze, and report quality-control data.
To grow the company, Serensits participated in local programming, including Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank’s FastTrack Accelerator, Invent Penn State’s Summer Founders Program, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ TechCelerator @ State College. Serensits also worked closely with the Penn State Small Business Development Center as she grew her business.
“Because I participated in Happy Valley LaunchBox programming, I got introduced to the whole entrepreneurship ecosystem and all these incredible resources,” Serensits said. “Once you start in these programs, you get to meet other entrepreneurs and so many mentors along the way willing to help. It almost feels like you can’t fail because you have so many people rooting for you.”
This year, the state of Pennsylvania recognized the need of entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, and has allocated $2.35 million in new funding for Invent Penn State as part of Penn State’s 2022-23 state funding. This funding will help the University to strengthen and grow the LaunchBox and Innovation Network, expand established entrepreneurship training programs with additional staffing and support services, and increase access to the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program to support more businesses.
“It’s really unique how equipped our Network is to support any and every startup across the state in facing any obstacle, while also effectively contributing to the larger community ecosystem,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “At any of our locations across the state, anyone can test their idea, test the market, build a prototype, file a patent, form an official company using free legal services, and receive continued support both within their campus community and across the statewide network as the business grows. I’m excited to see how this most recent funding enables us to expand and strengthen our existing services.