Entrepreneurship in Happy Valley

by Frank Koe, PhD

There are many advantages of living in Happy Valley: the friendly community, the access to cultural and sporting events, the diversity that Penn State brings to central Pennsylvania, the gorgeous surroundings and availability of so many outdoors activities. There is truly something for just about everyone.

But Happy Valley is not without its drawbacks. Geographically, we are fairly isolated, located about four hours from several metropolitan areas. Unlike these major cities where resources and opportunities are plentiful, we are simply at a disadvantage in some arenas.

This is especially evident for the entrepreneurially minded in our community – including the would-be entrepreneurs in our academic circles. Fortunately, we do have Lion Launch Pad, Global Entrepreneurship Week, Start-Up Week and the university-wide entrepreneurship and innovation minor that continues to grow and develop. Nonetheless, challenges remain to expand connections and entrepreneurial activities beyond our university.

In an effort to stretch the boundaries and immerse students into the real-world rigors of entrepreneurship, a proposal has been submitted by Penn State to the Department of Community & Economic Development to create a program aimed at sharing entrepreneurial resources and hosting regional student entrepreneurship competitions. If the proposal is approved, funds will be used to seed innovative ideas that promote entrepreneurship, tech transfer and increase awareness and expansion of resources to assist budding entrepreneurs at Bucknell, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and Penn State. Goals include exposing nearly 5,000 students to entrepreneurship, potentially creating up to 30 new businesses and 30 new technologies by young entrepreneurs, and coordinating activities, experiences and services for undergraduate students.

For more information about the plans for this entrepreneurship program, contact Maria Spencer, business consultant, Small Business Development Center and Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), at mtk15@psu.edu.

Frank T. Koe, Ph.D. is an associate professor of engineering entrepreneurship within the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) at Penn State. Accomplishments include founding his own sporting good accessory business that focuses on hunting and fishing. Products can be seen in Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and other outlets nationwide. His entrepreneurial academic experiences include serving as associate director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Stern School of Business, New York University, and dean of the Baker School of Business and Technology at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY.

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