Strong Ecosystem Contributes to Innovation for Thriving Tech Companies and Startups


The Penn State SBDC, part of the federally-funded nationwide network of SBDCs, has provided resources and services to businesses for almost 25 years, says director Tim Keohane — and many of those businesses have gone on to make big impacts on their industries. As of September 2020, SBDC is serving 650 clients and assisting with $18 million in capital funding, the resource facilitator’s impact is unprecedented.

The Penn State SBDC in Action: Laser Research and Medical Marvels

In 2019, Ben Hall saw an opportunity to expand his business, Lasers for Innovative Solutions (L4is), which provides laser analysis services to universities and private research facilities. Hall felt he could accelerate the company’s growth by selling equipment directly to research facilities for use in their own labs. After raising the needed funds, he was referred to the Penn SBDC, which helped him build a marketing and sales strategy and navigate regulations and requirements for working with an international manufacturer. Hall credits the “help and guidance” he received from SBDC for his company’s continued growth and success.

In March 2020, longtime SBDC client Actuated Medical, which manufactures medical devices, began producing multi-use face shields as personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President and CEO Maureen Mulvihill reached out to the SBDC for help getting the product into the hands of as many medical professionals as possible. With SBDC’s help, Actuated Medical was added to a statewide government portal that facilitates access to vendors and suppliers of PPE — a move that has increased sales and created eight new staff positions for the company.

Leveraging the Right Mix of Resources

All SBDCs are based at a college or university. “The idea was to leverage resources available at colleges and universities to assist growing small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Keohane says.

Each year, the SBDC manages the planning, organization and execution of Penn State’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, a series of presentations, workshops and networking opportunities that celebrate relationships between Penn State and entrepreneurial communities.

As of September 2020, the Penn State SBDC has:

Served 650 clients,

Helped start 38 businesses

Assisted with $18 million in capital funding

"Global Entrepreneurship Week is one example of how we leverage University and community resources to provide professional, educational and networking opportunities to student and community entrepreneurs,” said Elizabeth Fegert, marketing and event coordinator. “In 2020, Penn State GEW hosted more than 50 events for current and aspiring entrepreneurs, with the participation of units across the University, Commonwealth Campuses and surrounding community organizations.”

Want More?

New and existing businesses can request a consultation at the SBDC website. Each business client is assigned one of the center’s five business consultants, who can assist with 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. In addition, the SBDC taps the knowledge of industry experts, successful entrepreneurs and business professionals to deliver educational programming, including workshops and webinars.

On a broader scale, Penn State SBDC partners with organizations such as SCORE to offer resources and programming beyond the Happy Valley business community.

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