HARRISBURG, November 9, 2021 – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee entertained testimony Tuesday on the Invent Penn State program.
After launching six years ago, the initiative – which fosters entrepreneurial ingenuity by helping new businesses develop and launch – has expanded to 21 locations statewide.
Overall, the program has helped create nearly 5,000 entrepreneurs form nearly 220 new companies, as well as leading to the creation of over 300 jobs for Pennsylvanians and nearly 500 internships.
“Invent Penn State is inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit of aspiring business leaders to commercialize innovative new products and create entirely new business ecosystems in communities across Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudichak.
“The Hazleton Launchbox and the Wilkes-Barre Idea Hub, fueled by Penn State ingenuity, are essential economic assets that are delivering on the promise of 21st century jobs for northeastern Pennsylvania.”
The hearing was entitled “Improving Pennsylvania’s Innovation Economy – Invent Penn State.”
Participants included Pennsylvania State University (PSU) President Eric Barron, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia President Rob Wonderling, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress Executive Director Krista Schneider, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and Dr. Nina Jenkins, Founder of Condidio Tec LLC among others.
Known as Innovation Hubs and LaunchBoxes, the facilities offer free services to anyone, regardless if they are affiliated with PSU. Today, 96 percent of Pennsylvanians have a LaunchBox or hub within 30 miles of where they live or work.
The $30 million initiative was designed to accelerate the movement of business concepts to the marketplace and make a substantial economic development impact in Pennsylvania, and beyond. Barron noted that the University has invested $3 million annually to supplement the endeavor.
“We have taken a comprehensive approach to economic development that goes from end to end,” said Barron. “We begin with entrepreneurial educational opportunities and then create the path to get the ideas to the marketplace. This involves attracting funding, providing mentoring and legal support, and fostering the partnerships to make investment possible. Seeing our graduates begin and grow Pennsylvania-based businesses has been very gratifying.”
PSU has been partnering with the Grow PA enterprise, under the purview of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Wonderling pointed out that factors such as a shrinking workforce, stagnant population and underperforming economy have resulted in Pennsylvania failing to keep pace with other states. As a result, Grow PA focuses on modernizing all facets of the state’s infrastructure, accelerating health care innovation and transforming post-secondary education.
“We believe boosting support for programs like Invent Penn State, which serves a geographically diverse network, will help grow free enterprise and jobs in areas outside urban centers,” said Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
The Hazleton Launchbox site has supported more than 200 community members and provided a range of services for more than 30 businesses.