Sen. Yudichak to hold hearing on improving state’s innovation economy

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State Senator John Yudichak (I-14) and the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the Invent Penn State program.

The six-year-old initiative, which has expanded to 21 locations statewide, fosters entrepreneurial ingenuity by helping businesses develop and launch.

Overall, the program created nearly 5,000 entrepreneurs from nearly 220 new companies, as well as led to the creation of more than 300 jobs and nearly 500 internships.

Called LaunchBoxes or Innovation Hubs, the facilities offer free services to anyone. An estimated 96 percent of Pennsylvanians have a LaunchBox or hub within 30 miles of where they live or work, representatives of Yudichak, the chair of the committee, said.

“Invent Penn State is inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit of aspiring business leaders to commercialize innovative new products and create entirely new business ecosystems in communities across Pennsylvania,” Yudichak said. “The Hazleton LaunchBox and the Wilkes-Barre Idea Hub, fueled by Penn State ingenuity, are essential economic assets that are delivering on the promise of 21st century jobs for northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The hearing, “Improving Pennsylvania’s Innovation Economy – Invent Penn State”, heard testimony from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) President Eric Barron, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia President Rob Wonderling, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress Executive Director Krista Schneider, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and Dr. Nina Jenkins, Founder of Condidio Tec LLC among others.

Designed to accelerate the movement of business concepts to the marketplace and to make an economic development impact in the state, the $30 million initiative is augmented by a $3 million annual supplement by PSU to the endeavor.

“We have taken a comprehensive approach to economic development that goes from end to end,” said Barron. “We begin with entrepreneurial educational opportunities and then create the path to get the ideas to the marketplace. This involves attracting funding, providing mentoring and legal support, and fostering the partnerships to make investment possible. Seeing our graduates begin and grow Pennsylvania-based businesses has been very gratifying.”