MONT ALTO, Pa. ― As part of Penn State President Eric Barron’s Invent Penn State initiative, Penn State Mont Alto is one of four Commonwealth Campuses to receive a three-year, $50,000 grant to develop the LaunchBox ― an incubator to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop their ideas and take their products and services to market.
Begun in 2015, Invent Penn State is aimed at spurring economic development, job creation and student career success by combining entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and University-community collaborations to turn research discoveries into valuable products and services.
Penn State Mont Alto students and faculty will be engaged in the LaunchBox at every stage, according to Francis K. Achampong, Penn State Mont Alto chancellor.
“Faculty will design internships for students enrolled in programs such as our information technology and business programs. Students will work with aspiring entrepreneurs in designing business and marketing plans, websites and prospectuses to attract angel investors. Faculty and students will also serve as members of the LaunchBox Advisory Council along with local and regional business leaders,” he said.
The LaunchBox Advisory Council will serve as the incubator’s governing body, overseeing business competitions, selecting seed funding recipients, liaising with a paid student worker to facilitate LaunchBox activities, and organizing an annual entrepreneurship forum on the Penn State Mont Alto campus.
The campus is partnering with Home Again Concepts LLC to provide a convenient location for the LaunchBox in Chambersburg’s hub zone where aspiring entrepreneurs can “rent a desk.”
Renters will have access to business resources such as Wi-Fi and conferencing space, as well as a 3-D printer and computers with design software, to help the entrepreneurs with product design and prototyping.
The entrepreneurs can also draw up to $5,000 for incubation and other incidental costs for a number of months while they develop their ideas and prepare to transition their products and services to market.
Penn State Mont Alto will collaborate with other businesses and organizations to provide additional resources to the LaunchBox. These will include workshops and speakers on topics such as business plans, patents and trademarks, and help in accessing venture capital, business loans and modern financing tools like crowdfunding. Collaborators include the Small Business Development Center, the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, the Chambersburg Area Development Corporation, and Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners.
Planning for the incubator has begun, according to Achampong. More will be announced as soon as funding is dispersed and arrangement for the space is complete. He is excited about its possibilities.
“The LaunchBox will be a hub where students, faculty and community partners can network and develop their ideas together. Successful business launches will help develop a culture of entrepreneurship that further distinguishes Penn State Mont Alto,” he said.
Barron’s $30 million Invent Penn State initiative is meant to leverage Penn State’s research and entrepreneurial spirit to bring ideas, products, and services to market. Students, faculty, and campuses are working with businesses and communities across the Commonwealth to improve the lives of people in Pennsylvania and throughout the world.