Fayette campus wins $50,000 Invent Penn State grant

Penn State Fayette receives seed funding from University to spur entrepreneurship

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, is the recipient of a $50,000 seed grant through the Invent Penn State initiative to expand entrepreneurial endeavors, it was announced today (June 8) by Charles Patrick, chancellor and chief academic officer at the Fayette campus.

According to Patrick, these funds will enable the campus to partner with Fay-Penn Economic Development Council to create an entrepreneurship “ecosystem” for Penn State students, faculty, alumni and others that will drive local economic development in southwestern Pennsylvania by establishing a premier startup business facility, enhancing entrepreneur programmatic activity, and creating a stronger entrepreneurship resource partner network. At the epicenter of the effort will be a business “center of excellence” (COE) located in Fay-Penn’s headquarters.

“We are very pleased that Penn State is supporting the campus and community in our efforts to enhance economic development in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Patrick. “The grant will strengthen an already vital partnership of Penn State Fayette with the FayPenn Economic Development Council. The development of a state-of-the-art business center and business accelerator program will advance our entrepreneurial efforts in the region.”

Bob Shark, executive director of Fay-Penn, said the Invent Penn State grant will enable an expansion of the council’s 25-year partnership with its next-door neighbor. “This is an exciting beginning to the next collaboration between Penn State Fayette and Fay-Penn,” he said. “Our partnership in creating a Penn State entrepreneurship center is exactly the synergy Robert Eberly envisioned in putting a tech-based business park adjacent to campus. We’ll be opening doors to a whole new generation of Fayette County entrepreneurs.”

The COE will provide 6,000 square feet of state-of-the-science “flex” space to house a collaborative environment for Penn State Fayette and other entrepreneurs to engage in innovative activities and later to develop their products and services (including lab and light manufacturing areas), and a 1,500-square-foot, state-of-the-science event center that can accommodate up to 70 people for meetings, workshops, trainings, seminars and conferences.

Additional anticipated features of this partnership will include:

  • Entrepreneur-related events to be held both at the COE and on the Penn State Fayette campus. These events will include, among others, an annual “Shark Tank”-like business pitch to generate awareness about the COE both on campus and within the community, to award stipends to promising COE businesses, and to attract investment capital to promising COE businesses.
  • Access to Penn State resources, including but not limited to labs and equipment (e.g., 3-D printers at Penn State Fayette), faculty as consultants, students as entrepreneurs, students as interns for product or market development support, research capacity (Penn State Office of Industrial Partnerships), IP guidance (Penn State Patent and Trademark Resource Center), technical assistance (PennTAP), and technology transfer support for commercializing and/or licensing Penn State research products (Penn State Office of Technology Management).
  • Access to comprehensive one-on-one business development and support services from Fay-Penn and its economic development partners, including but not limited to business planning, accounting and legal professional services, market development and guidance, financing, exporting assistance, government contracting assistance, tax credit assistance (e.g., PA Keystone Innovation Zone, PA and US R&D, etc.), mentorship from other entrepreneurs and business owners, and introduction to potential customers and suppliers.
  • Access to nearby venture capital (VC) groups (e.g., Birchmere, Idea Foundry, Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, etc.) and angel investors (e.g., the Pennsylvania Angel Network). Fay-Penn is also investigating creating a Fayette County investors group.
  • Stipends, and possibly other funding (e.g. Penn State fellowships), to assist startups in the COE to bridge the gap from company inception through angel/VC investment.
  • Assistance in pursuing research and development funding, e.g., SBIR via PA’s Innovation Partnership.

Launched in 2015 by President Eric Barron, Invent Penn State is a coordinated effort to create a University environment that welcomes and encourages entrepreneurship. This Commonwealth-wide initiative blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding, and key regional partnerships for the benefit of Pennsylvania and beyond.