Launching LaunchBox

LaunchBox ribbon-cutting

We have Liftoff
(L-R): Donna Bon, director of the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence; Madlyn L. Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses; Penn State President Eric Barron; Steve Sheetz, founder of Penn State Altoona’s Sheetz Fellows Program; Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry; Stephen McKnight, president and CEO, Altoona Blair County Development Corp.; and Joe Hurd, president and CEO, Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Penn State Altoona furthered its commitment to innovation and economic development with the Altoona LaunchBox dedication and ribbon-cutting June 1 at the Gables Building along 12th Ave. in downtown Altoona.

LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State Initiative, a Commonwealth-wide system to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and University-community collaborations to facilitate the process of turning ideas into viable products and services.

Altoona LaunchBox is a no-cost startup accelerator and co-working space designed to provide early-stage startup companies with the support and resources needed to build a sustainable business and a viable plan for growth. It is open to community members and those affiliated with Penn State.

In June 2016, Penn State Altoona was awarded a $50,000 seed grant from the Invent Penn State Initiative to develop Altoona LaunchBox, and in October 2016, six business startups began a partnership with the program. As Altoona LaunchBox grows, it will have the capacity to facilitate 20 startups per year. Altoona LaunchBox is one of 13 innovation hubs located in Penn State campus communities across Pennsylvania.

University President Eric Barron spoke during the Altoona LaunchBox dedication, along with Penn State Altoona Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Steve Sheetz, founder of Penn State Altoona’s Sheetz Fellows Program, and Stephen McKnight, president and CEO of the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation, while several other local dignitaries participated in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Within this building, the pursuit of entrepreneurial aspirations through the development of business ideas and concepts will be aided by an array of resources, including advanced technology, team-based approaches, and training programs facilitated by business experts,” said Bechtel-Wherry. “Altoona LaunchBox is yet another symbol of the commitment to the economic revitalization taking place throughout Blair County that is shared by the University, Penn State Altoona, and our community.”

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