Explore innovation, entrepreneurship at Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — Penn State Startup Week supported by PNC returns April 4-8 with in-person, hybrid, and virtual events. Students from all Penn State campuses have the opportunity to explore innovation and entrepreneurship, learn from passionate changemakers, and connect with industry leaders from diverse backgrounds.

In its sixth year as a university-wide event, Startup Week will feature keynote speakers and panels highlighting, among other things, women pioneers, innovation during the pandemic, and the economic impact of entrepreneurship in our communities. In a keynote event, JT Marino, Penn State University alumnus and co-founder of Tuft & Needle, will discuss his startup journey, the impact of his company, and the role of entrepreneurship in business.

“Startup Week offers a tremendous and diverse array of resources for students across all Penn State campuses,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “Students can network with and learn from successful alumni, explore entrepreneurship and new technologies, and learn firsthand from founders who have built influential companies. After attending Startup Week events, students will take with them the knowledge of innovation and entrepreneurship that they will take with them during their time at Penn State and throughout their careers.”

Other events and activities include student pitch competitions, networking events, workshops, and startup and business career fairs, all of which offer students the opportunity to connect with Penn State alumni and industry leaders.

“Penn State is a powerful force for entrepreneurship in our Commonwealth,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president in Central Pa. “PNC is excited to support Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC because our success—and the success of our neighbors and communities—depends on a vibrant marketplace steeped in innovation.”

Startup Week events are open to all Penn State students. Participants are encouraged to review the Startup week schedule to confirm the details of each event and whether registration is required.

Selected keynote speakers and panel discussions for hybrid events

Students can engage with keynote speakers and panelists who are among the leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation. Each keynote speaker session will include a Q&A with students. All keynote sessions and panels will be held as hybrid events hosted in-person at the Penn State Innovation Hub, 123 S. Burrowes Street, State College, PA 16801. All livestream links are available in the Startup Week schedule. This year’s topics and speakers include:

Panel discussion: “Women trailblazers: Securing capital in a male-dominated space”
Monday, April 4, 7:15-8:15 p.m
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

There are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating approximately $1.8 trillion in annual revenue. Despite the growing number of women entrepreneurs, only 2.3% of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs. Join a panel discussion with female founders who share their successes, adversities and experiences raising capital in a male-dominated environment. Panelists are listed below:

  • Moderator: Lee Erickson, Penn State Class of 2013 (Associate Director of Economic Development and Student Programs, Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization)
  • Panelist: Birgitt Boschitsch, Penn State Class of 2018 (Co-Founder and CEO, spotLESS Materials)
  • Panelist: Linsey Covert, Penn State Class of 2006 (Founder and CEO, TEAMology)
  • Panelist: Dana Wilson, Penn State Class of 2023 (Founder and CEO, CHIP)

Panel Discussion: “Pandemic Pivot: Innovation in Business during COVID-19”
Tuesday, April 5, 7:15-8:15 p.m
Penn State Innovation Hub, 1st floor

The pandemic has forced founders and companies to re-evaluate their operations. From adopting new technology to adapting to remote working habits, leaders have had to demonstrate the flexibility and resilience to keep going and not give up when the going gets tough. This panel will feature business leaders who have transformed during the pandemic while finding ways to thrive. Participating panel members include:

  • Moderator: Tim Simpson (technical)
  • Panelists: Justin Rosenberg, Penn State Class of 2004 (Founder and CEO, Honeygrow)
  • Panelist: Maureen Mulvihill, Penn State Class of 1989 (Bachelor), 1991 (Masters), and 1996 (Doctorate) (President and CEO, Actuated Medical)
  • Panelist: Cheryl Robinson (ForbesWomen Contributor, Coach, Author, International Speaker, Leadership Workshop Developer). Robinson successfully defended her dissertation on how people make their careers successful.

Keynote Speaker JT Marino: “Cultivating Communities: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Our Economy”
Wednesday, April 6, 6-7 p.m
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

With 31.7 million small businesses in the United States, they demonstrate tremendous impact on economies and communities. Exemplifying this impact is JT Marino (Born 2009), co-founder of Tuft & Needle, a Penn State University graduate who entered and revolutionized the sleep industry in 2012 with a personal investment of $6,000. The company has since grown to annual production of more than $200 million and turned profitable without outside investment in less than six years. Learn about Marino’s entrepreneurial journey and discover the impact of his company at this keynote event.

Panel Discussion: “Empowering Society: How Entrepreneurship Benefits Our World”
Wednesday, April 6, 7:15-8:15 p.m
Penn State Innovation Hub, Room 603

Future generations depend on the resources that businesses and communities provide for them in the world today. Social entrepreneurs, who explore business opportunities that have a positive impact on society, are at the center of finding, developing and funding solutions that directly address these important issues. This panel will share how it has positively impacted the world through social entrepreneurship and enterprise. Panel members include:

startup market and Career fair for small businesses and startups
Tuesday, April 5, 5-7 p.m
Penn State Innovation Hub, 1st and 6th floors

Presented by Penn State Career Services, the Small Business and Startup Careers Fair, is a university-wide recruitment fair for students looking for opportunities in a small business or startup environment. The fair, open to all academic year or major students, will showcase employers seeking candidates for full-time, internship, collaborative and research positions.

Meanwhile, Startup Market is a university-wide resource fair for students interested in getting involved with organizations, academic pathways, and community resources at Penn State focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. Open to all students of all years and majors, the Startup Market offers startups and student-led initiatives, academic and entrepreneurial resources to help instill a startup mentality in students while at Penn State.

Student pitch competitions

Startup Week offers numerous Student pitch competitions from all Penn State campuses, many of which include prizes and rewards such as funding, networking resources, and mentoring. These competitions include the Inc.U competitionwhich consists of… Six student startups compete for $30,000 in fundingand the Happy Valley VC & Innoblue pitch competitionoffering prizes totaling $25,000.

From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, April 7, the top teams from each competition will be honored at a student recognition and networking reception (by invitation only) at the Penn State Innovation Hubwith Eric Barron, President of the State of Penn, and Jim Hoehn, President of the PNC Region of Central Pennsylvania.

About Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC

An integral part of the broader Invent Penn State initiative, Startup Week powered by PNC is a university-wide event that connects students with innovative alumni and pioneers who are thriving in a variety of industries and disciplines. Throughout the week, students discover, explore, experience and celebrate entrepreneurship.

For more information on Startup Week, including a full schedule of events, visit startupweek.psu.edu. Attendees can join and follow Startup Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PSUStartupWeek and #PennStateStartup.

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