Priorities:Pennsylvania State University Student Priorities

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Overview

Penn State offers many Innovation and Entrepreneurship resources varying from classes, to organizations to attaining funding for entrepreneurial activities. Its biggest contributor of growth has been the "Invent Penn State" initiative, started in 2015. It was a pet-project of the current President, Eric Barron, and has lead to buildup of entreprenuerial resources in nearly every facet of Penn State life. There are over 150 classes offered in the varying areas of entrepreneurship. There are 5 minors offered in the umbrella topic of entrepreneurship, as well as "Launchboxes" (innovation hubs/incubators) at every campus in the ecosystem. Lots of the growth has been spurred on by various student organizations such as Innoblue (the primary entreprenuership club on campus), HackPSU (organizes by yearly hackathons with corporate sponsors), Enactus (a project-based social entreprenuership club), and Happy Valley Capital (a VC interest club). Penn State also has pitch competitions in nearly every academic discipline for startup ideas. Lastly, Penn State has a large industrial park, dubbed "Innovation Park", for local and university startups to operate.

Although Penn State has done a great job in building up these opportunities, there are still some ways we believe we can improve. We would like to provide more inspiration for students to become entrepreneurs, provide a greater culture of entreprenuership, and increase the visibility of suitable entry points in to the community. We will carry out these goals by increasing VC presence, providing entry information to freshmen, and elevating successful entreprenuerial alumni.


Strategy #1: Inspiring Students to Take Part

Following are an array of strategies that will fully address Gap #1 over a 2-3 year period:

Step #1: Exploring New Marketing Channels for Content

  • Description: The current Invent Penn State marketing channels are good at keeping students engaged, however we think that we need different outreach channels if we truly want to make our ideas a success and grow the ecosystem as whole.
  • Some ideas:
  • Postering Campaign (our poster prototypes worked well)
  • Pitching at Student Organizations
  • Banners?
  • Pushing students to join the existing mailing list
  • Innoblue Website

Step #2: Alumni Centered Content

  • Description: We want to take stories from inspirational entreprenuerial alumni, and share them with exisiting students in an easily accesible format. We hope that by showing students what their predeccesors have accomplished, it may inspire them to take a leap of faith in to entreprenuership. We will dispurse this information through the above marketing channels.

Strategy #2: Creating a Buzzing Culture of I&E around Campus

Following are an array of strategies that will fully address Gap #2 over a 2-3 year period:

Primary Tactic: Increasing VC Presence

  • Description: We have noticed that many of the US Entreprenuership hubs have a booming VC environment to accompany the growing businesses. Our hope, is that by increasing visits from major VC partners/companies, we will enable more local/university based startups to florish. This will in turn increase our reputation as a startup university and attract more VCs.
  • Ideas:
  • Investor Bus Tours like Rise of the Rest
  • Elevating the few VC firms that are present at Penn State: 1855 Capital and Contrary Capital
  • Work to increase Contrary Capital's presence on campus

Secondary Tactic: Changing the Rules

  • Description: Penn State currently has a rule that no revenue generating business can be started or operated on campus. If we want to take our ecosystem to the next level, that is something that will really need to change.

Strategy #3: Increasing Entry Point Quality and Visibility

There are two main tactics we plan to employ for increasing ease of access to Penn State's I&E ecosystem: 

Tactic #1: Creating a Checklist


Description: We are hoping to create a small and easy to use checklist for Freshmen to use to explore the I&E ecosystem. We want to include this resource in the NSO materials that accepted students receive when they first arrive on campus. The checklist will be a simple flyer with little tasks that students can accomplish to "get their feet wet" in the ecosystem.

Tactic #2: Spend A Summer Day


Description: The university has a "Spend A Summer Day" program that allows prospective students to explore academic disciplines or colleges that they may be interested in at Penn State. Given that Invent Penn State as nearly as many facets as a college, we believe that we can create an information session that students can attend which allows them to get a taste for the PSU I&E resources. Additionally, students voluntarily sign up for these session, which means we would be getting in front of the interested demographic.

Related Links

Pennsylvania State University

Current Fellows:

Michael Miller

Hayden Long

Previous Fellows:

Mridul Bhandari