Harnessing the Power of Penn State and Happy Valley’s Tech and Business Resources


Image: Innovation Park

The Innovation Park team at the Technology Center serves as a critical connector between startups, existing tenants and the vast business, research and facilities resources that are available. Director Dan Leri and his team are go-to contacts, helping businesses seize opportunities for growth. 

In addition to the Innovation Park team, there are invaluable resources located inside the Park that can help your company reach the next level. Ask an Innovation Park startup about the secret to their success, and it’s just a matter of time before you hear about InventPennState, PennTAP, Ben Franklin Technology Partners or the Small Business Development Center. Collectively, these resources help new businesses harness the power of partnership with a Tier 1 research university, procure seed investment, offer business consulting and help Pennsylvania companies reduce waste along with their environmental footprint. 

While their focuses are varied, their missions are aligned: When Happy Valley startups succeed, everybody wins. “If investing in innovation makes sense in the best of times,” says Stephen Brawley, president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, “then it is even more critical now and will be even more so post-pandemic. Innovation has been a crucial component in Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s central to our economy’s recovery.” 

Find out more about how these resources can work for you. 

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA

What they do: Ben Franklin Technology Partners provides startup funding and business support services to Pennsylvania-based, tech-based startups and small manufacturers. The support comes in a multitude of ways, ranging from its long-standing seed investing program to its Big Idea Contests and very successful TechCelerator program. It is the largest early-stage investor in the state and it is among the most emulated technology-based economic development programs in the nation. 

Upcoming events: Ben Franklin’s most widely-known event is its ongoing TechCelerator program — a 10-week bootcamp that helps startups get off the ground. For more information about the program, and how to get involved, go to the Ben Franklin website

Ways they can help your company succeed: 

  • The TechCelerator program is a rigorous, 10-week class that helps promote Happy Valley’s robust startup culture with training that includes a variety of topics, like market research, basic financials and funding options. During the process, teams receive stipends to assist with prototyping and customer discovery expenses, as well as initial legal and accounting advice. At the end of the program, teams pitch their business ideas to a panel of local professionals, with the possibility of winning cash prizes up to $10,000. 

So far, Ben Franklin has invested more than $3.3 million in 24 companies, many of which are based on technology developed at Penn State University. All told, nearly 150 companies have formed thanks to TechCelerator, generating more than 300 new jobs and $26 million in revenue. 

  • The Transformation Business Services Network offers hands-on assistance with things like strategic planning, market validation, financial management, accounting and office set-up, human resource planning and advertising strategies. Best of all, it’s all available at no charge!
  • Ben Franklin’s BIG IDEA contests allow budding entrepreneurs and small business owners the opportunity to take the first step in turning their ideas into a business reality – practically risk-free!

Invent Penn State

What they do: Wherever you are on the entrepreneurial path, Invent Penn State has resources you can use. Signature programs can help you start and grow a business, find licensable technologies and investment opportunities, and get to know the Penn State entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Upcoming events: Invent Penn State’s events offer ongoing ways to harness the ‘ingenious power of partnership.’ The Venture & IP Conference just wrapped up, and the Summer Founders Program is coming up in just a few weeks. See the full calendar on the Invent Penn State homepage

How they help your company succeed: Invent Penn State’s website features an online toolbox that includes a: 

  • Resource Navigator, a searchable inventory of entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem resources around 21 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania.
  • Intellectual Property Navigator, a searchable showcase of Penn State’s top emerging technologies available for licensing.
  • Startup Navigator, a searchable showcase of Penn State legacy companies and ecosystem startups.
  • Events Calendar of latest events from Invent Penn State.
  • Innovation Gateway, a tool for industry to post research challenges and receive curated proposals from cross-disciplinary Penn State experts.

Small Business Development Center

Penn State

What they do: The Penn State SBDC provides one-on-one, confidential, no-cost business consulting as well as low-cost seminars to pre-venture, startup and existing small businesses located in Happy Valley and surrounding counties. Small business consulting services include business planning, feasibility studies, market research, financing/loan packaging, marketing, scaling for growth, hiring and managing employees and other areas of management and technical support. 

Upcoming events: The SBDC offers ongoing events on topics like customer service, restaurant revitalization fund information, selling clinics and how to grow your business with YouTube. You can find more details and registration information here

How they can help your company succeed:

  • Request a free consultation with a small business expert.
  • Join the mailing list to find out about upcoming events and news that affects small businesses in Pennsylvania.
  • COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses. The SBDC is committed to helping small businesses in Happy Valley succeed and, during the COVID-19 crisis, the organization has pivoted to offer help where it’s needed most. It offers resources for the latest information on emergency capital programs and funding opportunities, local and federal updates, unemployment compensation guidance and national resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Individualized small business pandemic support is available with the SBDC pandemic support specialist, Elizabeth Hay. 


What they do: The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) at Penn State is a statewide technical assistance organization that specializes in Pennsylvania businesses and anchor institutions. It offers unique access to an abundance of resources from Penn State, including faculty expertise, research centers and state of the art facilities, as well as students. PennTAP focuses on helping Pennsylvania businesses through two primary areas of expertise: Energy and Environmental Services and Innovation Services.

In the past 10 years alone, PennTAP has worked with more than 3,700 organizations, who have in turn reported approximately $300 million in economic benefits and the creation or retention of more than 4,000 Pennsylvania jobs.

Upcoming events: PennTAP actively promotes training and education opportunities through webinars, in-person learning events and conferences throughout the year. These training sessions focus on energy, environmental services and innovation. Join them on April 27 for a roundtable on compressed air systems, on May 20 for reducing metal manufacturing processing energy and waste and on June 17 for pathways to smart manufacturing through smart maintenance.

How they help your company succeed: PennTAP specializes in two primary areas —  Energy and Environmental Services and Innovation Services — so you can find extensive resources in both concentrations. 

  • PennTAP’s Energy and Environment Services are designed to help Pennsylvania companies conserve energy and reduce waste in their manufacturing facilities, lowering energy-related costs and increasing their profits. Technical advisors can identify applicable grants and incentives and quantify opportunities into financial terms.

With the organization’s Innovation Services, let PennTAP serve as a liaison between your organization and resources from Penn State, a Research 1 institution with access to cutting-edge technology, equipment, subject matter experts and labs. PennTAP can also create relationships between your organization and a vast ecosystem of private and government resources that are concentrated in Pennsylvania, as well as those found nationwide.


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