Spring events flex Happy Valley’s networking and innovation muscle


Venture & IP Conference — April 28-29

What it is: The Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference is one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic. The conference highlights innovations from high growth and emerging markets including IT, energy, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, health care, B2B and B2C among others. 

With more than 70 startups and over 40 investment firms represented, the 2022 conference is expected to be an even bigger draw than past years. 

Why attend: In addition to a full roster of sessions like “The Secrets to Disruptive Product Design,” there are two events that make the conference noteworthy. 

The first is Venture Connection, which features investors hosting tables to meet with entrepreneurs that have been matched with them based on capital needs, industry and other key criteria. (Note that registration for this year’s Venture Connection is closed, but you can still attend as a general attendee by registering here). 

The second is Tech Tournament, a showcase of disruptive technologies and early stage companies born of Penn State's robust and diverse research enterprise.

The innovators featured in this tournament have begun their journey toward commercialization with a passion for moving their ideas into the marketplace to solve real-world problems.

Bottom line: This conference attracts 600-plus entrepreneurs, industry leaders, commercial partners and investors who are focused on moving world-changing ideas into the marketplace. This is a go-to event for innovation. You can register at pennstatevip.com.

Photo: Penn State Startup Week

Penn State Startup Week — April 4-8

What it is: Startup Week is a vital link that connects Penn State students with the resources and support from Penn State and Happy Valley in areas like supply chain, entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Why attend: This week-long event connects students with innovative alumni and pioneers who are achieving success in a variety of disciplines — through startup initiatives of their own or with new ventures in already established organizations. Past Penn State Startup Week events have featured entrepreneurial workshops; networking events; student pitch competitions; and presentations from startup founders and corporate innovators, including many Penn State alumni.

Bottom line: If you are a current student, alumni or at the beginning stages of innovation and entrepreneurship, Startup Week is an invaluable tool in exploring how Penn State can help fuel your idea’s success. Find out more at startupweek.psu.edu. 

Photo: Ben Franklin Technology Partners

PA Wilds Big Idea Contest — Deadline: April 18

What it is: A contest for entrepreneurs in Centre, Clarion, Clearfield or Jefferson Counties, Pennsylvania. You could win up to $50,000, along with an opportunity to pitch your business concept for an additional $10,000 Seed Grant from Ben Franklin, and a guaranteed spot in an upcoming business accelerator program. 

Why participate: Ben Franklin Technology Partners is in the business of fueling innovation in Happy Valley (some quick examples are here and here) and the organization has partnered with the Appalachian Regional Council and PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship to offer this opportunity to jumpstart innovation in Happy Valley and surrounding counties. 

Bottom line: If you are developing or crafting a product, process or innovation related to the maker economy, outdoors and recreation, forest products or manufacturing and technology, this is an opportunity for seed money, training and vital networking. There’s no downside — take advantage of this opportunity! See more at benfranklinlearningcenter.org/pa-wilds-big-idea-contest

Photo: Brian Reed, Penn State

SBDC Day — March 16

What it is: Head to the new Innovation Hub for National SBDC Day to learn more about how the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help your business start, grow and prosper. 

Why attend: Ecosystem partners The Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, the Penn State Entrepreneur Assistance Legal Clinic, the Penn State Intellectual Property Legal Clinic and Invent Penn State will be sharing how their organizations can further support small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.

Bottom line: SBDC is part of a strong network of resources that move innovations into the commercial marketplace. This informal event is a quick way to connect with resources within the Happy Valley ecosystem. 


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