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Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Pennsylvania State University has been increasing their entrepreneurial efforts. There have been some big changes in regards to minors, programs, organizations, and more.

Initially, Penn State offered an Engineering Entrepreneurship minor through the College of Engineering. In 2013, Penn State was able to form an intercollegiate entrepreneurship minor that allows students to venture into subject clusters of their choice. The entrepreneurship minor offers clusters from College of Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Communication, School of Engineering Design, Technology & Professional Programs, and Smeal College of Business.

Organizations such as Innoblue and Nittany Entrepreneurs work hard to make sure that budding entrepreneurs have all possible resources to reach their goals. Innoblue holds workshops in subject matters of marketing, coding, brand creation, pitch delivery and more. Nittany Entreprenurs strives to match Penn State students with local businesses to enhance student learning of entrepreneurship through practice.

The accelerated undergraduate program that pushes an entrepreneurial mindset early on is the joint Science B.S./M.B.A. program. Certificate in Humanitarian Engineering & Social Entrepreneurship is offered at Penn State as well.

Along with an academic push for entrepreneurship, Penn State attempts to provide many resources for entrepreneurship, such as 3-D printers, accelerators, trader challenges, idea pitch competitions, TedxPSU, the learning factory, and more. Penn State also offers funding for entrepreneurs on the rise.

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Faculty play a large role in Penn State's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Many faculty commercialize their own research and turn them into business ventures. Other faculty members choose to act as mentors for students and help nudge students towards the path of entrepreneurship. There are three endowed chairs of entrepreneurs who can be found in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Smeal College of Business and School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs. Faculty are provided with research centers, design and innovation centers, business plan advice and funding programs.

University Technology Transfer Function

In order to assist entrepreneurs with technology transfer, two Penn State and one state resource has been provided. Penn State runs Office of Technology Management and Penn State Research Foundation. Through TechCelerator program, Ben Franklin Technologies runs Research to Start-up. These programs are there to help entrepreneurs facilitate technology transfer.

University-Industry Collaboration

Penn State has a few programs that allow university-industry collaboration. Penn State is working on increasing university and local industry collaboration. Some of the programs that exist today are The Learning Factory (where teams of students are given projects and budgets by industry to solve a problem within a semester), Hackathons (companies such as Microsoft and Google hold their Hackathons at Penn State), and the Engineering Design Program (where students learn to use industrial tools such as CAD) Currently, Penn State is working on increasing university relations with State College local entrepreneurs.

Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

By collaborating with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Penn State's Innovation Park, Penn State Business Development Center, Center Region Entrepreneur Network (CREN), Nittany Entrepreneurs and various other Penn State organization and university programs, Penn State is attempting to decrease the gap between university and State College local entrepreneurs. In 2013, there will be the first 'career fair' for local businesses to help students and entrepreneurs reach other. The UIF fellow at Penn State is also helping make a database and transfer platform for entrepreneurs, alumni, and past and current students. This should help regional and economical development. The goal for State College is to bring State College industry revenue to $3 Billion by 2033.

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Penn State's Entrepreneurial Rating

I would rate Penn State a 7 out of 10 for entrepreneurship activities. Though there has been some great progress made in entrepreneurship at Penn State in the last few years, Penn State still has a long way to go. Penn State requires better design labs and innovation work spaces on campus. As a university as a whole, Penn State needs to push entrepreneurship instead of just pushing working in industries. Penn State has room to grow in entrepreneurship.

Note: The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) consists of 24 campuses. Each campus promotes entrepreneurship in its own way. For consistency, only Penn State's University Park campus information has been consolidated.

Related Links

Pennsylvania State University Student Priorities

Mridul Bhandari