While people go to college to learn in the classroom, gaining real life experience is also helpful, no matter what your major is; for example, medical students have used 3D printed medical models that are incredibly realistic. Organizations and universities all across the US, and around the world, are also setting up business incubators, many of which are for 3D printing-related startups and entitled to Federal and State R&D tax credits, so business students and faculty members can learn how to effectively develop their ideas into a viable business venture. Nearly 75 people converged at the eCenter@LindenPointe in Pennsylvania on Thursday, August 10th to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for VenturePointe, a new startup incubator for Penn State Shenango.
Last year, it was one of six campuses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to receive a $50,000 seed grant from the Invent Penn State initiative, which seeks to expand the entrepreneurial endeavors in its region. The grant was created in order to ramp up job creation, economic development, and student career success.
VenturePointe, located just 10 minutes away from Penn State Shenango’s campus, is for both for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, and includes a co-working space and a Maker’s Studio with multiple 3D printers.
Penn State Shenango Campus Director Jo Anne Carrick said, “This past year has been very exciting as we’ve worked with our business and human development and family studies faculty, as well as the administration and staff at the eCenter, to get Shenango campus students and alumni absorbed in our VenturePointe incubator. As soon as we were awarded the seed grant money, we began implementing our plan and working with the eCenter. We have a strong relationship with them, and we couldn’t be happier with our immediate results.”
The incubator is already home to two Penn State startups: veterans resource center the Guardians Nest and ATP Resources, which develops and distributes medical devices. Human development and studies graduate Brian Flick created the Guardian’s Nest, a nonprofit that offers the nearly 11,000 veterans living in Mercer County a one-stop-shop to get social services, information, and referrals. Penn State graduate Jacob Linzenbold, a former business major, also engaged with the VenturePointe incubator to open ATP Resources.
Linzenbold said, “I originally attended the eCenter@LindenPointe’s Start-Up Weekend in November 2016, and after that experience, I knew this was a great place to be. Soon after that, I had the opportunity to become a part of the VenturePointe program and gladly accepted. The help and direction of the staff here at the eCenter and at Penn State Shenango create an environment for success.”
This spring, the campus also set up its first internship under the incubator, and senior business student Riley Atterholt interned at the eCenter, working on marketing initiatives and serving as a mentor to the student-led business teams there.
“The community support for VenturePointe has been extraordinary, and it has created the type of entrepreneurial environment needed for breakthrough innovations. This is what we envisioned when we launched Invent Penn State nearly two years ago, and I’m thrilled to celebrate the early success with our Shenango students, faculty, staff and community,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.
The final phase of the school’s vision for the startup incubator are the 3D printers, which have now been installed and are ready for use at VenturePointe. This technology will support Penn State students, and other tenants of the eCenter, as they work to develop their own 3D printed product prototypes.
Tech startup programs and incubators like VenturePointe are extremely helpful – even if you have a great idea for a product that uses 3D printing technology, not everyone automatically knows how to take that idea and turn it into a marketable success. The four university graduates who invented the Omni Invent ‘workshop in a box’ come to mind – soon after graduating, the team received its first round of funding from a higher education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organization, and after spending 100 days in China working on product development, will soon be looking for more investors at the Hax Demo Day in San Francisco. The further along inventors can get in terms of product development and marketability, the more likely they are to win big at startup competitions and continue moving forward to commercializing their products.[Source/Images: Penn State Shenango]