SHARON, Pa. — On Aug. 10, Penn State President Eric Barron, along with other Penn State administrators, legislators, advisory and alumni board members, faculty, staff, students and members of the community, gathered at the eCenter@LindenPointe in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Penn State Shenango’s VenturePointe — an incubator for start-up resources for both for-profit businesses and not-for-profit agencies.
VenturePointe was made possible by a $50,000 seed grant provided by Invent Penn State — a Commonwealth-wide initiative to expand entrepreneurial endeavors in its region. The grant was developed to spur economic development, job creation and student career success.
“The community support for VenturePointe has been extraordinary, and it has created the type of entrepreneurial environment needed for breakthrough innovations,” said Barron. “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.”
The incubator currently houses two Penn State Shenango start-up businesses: The Guardians Nest, a veteran’s resource center; and ATP Resources, a medical device developer and distributor. Also under the auspices of the VenturePointe incubator, the Shenango campus established its first internship this spring to immerse Shenango students into the entrepreneurial incubation process, which now has a Maker’s Studio with 3Dprinting capabilities.
“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,” said Penn State Shenango Campus Director Jo Anne Carrick. “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 first start-up business to go into VenturePointe was the Guardians Nest. The non-profit is the brainchild of Penn State Shenango human development and studies graduate Brian Flick, whose purpose is to create a one-stop-shop social services and information and referral hub for the nearly 11,000 U.S. Veterans residing in Mercer County. Through the Invent Penn State grant, the Guardians Nest, which is the first social entrepreneurial endeavor of its kind locally, is currently in the process of applying for its IRS 501(c)3, has established a working board of directors, and is actively marketing its programs.
“Being offered the opportunity to continue to work with Shenango campus faculty like Claudia Brown and the staff at the eCenter@LindenPointe has been incredible,” said Flick. “It has been a dream of mine for some time to establish a one-stop-shop for veterans residing in Mercer County, and I’m pretty pleased with how much I’ve been able to accomplish so far with the support I’ve received. I’m looking forward to the day when I can open the doors to my own place and help my fellow veterans.”
ATP Resources was the second business to engage in the Shenango campus’ VenturePointe incubator. Run by Jacob Linzenbold, a recent Penn State business major, ATP Resources is a medical device developer and distributor. Like Flick, Linzenbold seized the opportunity to work at VenturePointe following graduation from Penn State Shenango where he received his bachelor’s degree in business.
“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,” said Linzenbold. “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 past spring, Riley Atterholt, a senior business student, completed his required internship at the eCenter through VenturePointe, where he was able to help progress the eAcademy’s awareness, serve as a mentor to the student led business teams, and work on various marketing initiatives. Following the completion of his internship, Atterholt was asked to stay on several extra months to be the project manager of the eCenter’s newest initiative, Venture Investment Accelerator [VIA] eCenter — a business competition for startups with a seed grant award for $25,000, by Executive Director Ketaki Desai.
“Riley has been such an asset to the eCenter community — he went from being a shy undergraduate student to an extremely confident project lead in a matter of months, and everyone who worked with him outside of our team still remembers the maturity with which he handled his responsibility,” said Desai. “We hope that our collaboration with Penn State serves as a model for other universities in the region, and couldn’t be more thankful for Jo Anne’s support.”
To complete Penn State Shenango’s vision of its new entrepreneurial resource center, the much anticipated 3D printers recently arrived at VenturePointe and are fully operational. This final piece will enhance technology at the eCenter to support the development of product prototypes by Penn State students and eCenter tenants.
For more information about Penn State Shenango VenturePointe, contact Campus Director JoAnne Carrick at 724-983-2900.