Technology Transfer

Penn State Commits $30 Million to 'Invent' Program

The Pennsylvania State University system is kicking off a major initiative to spur economic development. President Eric Barron has announced a multi-year $30 million investment to support job creation, economic development and student career success. The university is hoping to see the state support its goals in "Invent Penn State" as well.

"Our aim is to accelerate the transfer of new ideas into useful products and processes that encompass a broad range including: energy, food security, environmental protection, health care, manufacturing, educational technologies, medical devices and pharmaceuticals," Barron stated in a letter to the campus community.

The news comes just as Penn State has broken ground on a new building that will expand its Innovation Park. The 82,000-square-foot privately funded project will have both office and research space. That development is already home to organizations that help business startups in technology licensing, business training, financing, investment, commercialization, business planning, networking, mentoring and idea incubation.

One of the student multimedia labs within Innovation Park

One of the student multimedia labs within Innovation Park 

The newest investment will include development of additional commercialization spaces, venture fairs and competitions; bringing together entrepreneurs with new opportunities; and funding the work of faculty who want to commercialize their research. Those endeavors won't be focused just on the main campus in University Park, but also in other communities where the university has a presence.

"...In today's competitive economic climate, we must do more than just keep the doors open to innovation," Barron said. "We need deliberate strategies to promote economic development and a culture that rewards entrepreneurship--not just in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, but in the arts, health and human development, education and more. We are prepared to invest for the long-term because the outcomes will benefit generations of Pennsylvanians."

Barron said the investment in the program will allow Penn State "to launch an online branded platform to encourage outside investment in startup companies," and bring in expertise to help start-ups with potential. "Need legal advice? It will be there. Need assistance navigating the patent process? Just ask. Help at every stage of the entrepreneurial process is our goal."

Eventually, he added, the initial $30 million will be "augmented" with fundraising and industry and government partnerships.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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