PNC Bank commits $1 million to power Happy Valley LaunchBox

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and the Invent Penn State initiative today are celebrating a $1 million grant from PNC Bank to support Happy Valley LaunchBox, one of 17 innovation hubs the University has opened across Pennsylvania to provide early-stage startups with the support and resources needed to build a sustainable and scalable business and a viable plan for growth. To recognize PNC’s support, the downtown State College center will be renamed “Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank.”

“Penn State is deeply grateful for PNC’s leadership in supporting Happy Valley LaunchBox. We believe that our innovation hubs are key to driving economic development in Pennsylvania, and contributions from alumni, friends and corporate partners like PNC will ensure that our innovation hubs can serve Pennsylvania’s communities for years to come,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.

As part of "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," the University’s current fundraising campaign, each of Penn State’s 17 innovation hubs has the opportunity to secure $1 million in matching support from the University when gifts to the hub’s endowment reach $1 million. The combined funds will provide operational funding to the innovation hub each year, ensuring that it continues to spark economic development and support entrepreneurship in perpetuity. Happy Valley LaunchBox is the first innovation hub to reach its $1 million goal.

“PNC Bank’s grant marks a turning point for the Invent Penn State initiative and our innovation hubs, because their support will encourage additional supporters to come forward,” said Barron.

The grant forges a unique relationship between PNC and Happy Valley LaunchBox. PNC executives will participate in entrepreneurial programming such as the hub’s speaker series and mentorship program.

Elizabeth McCulloch

Penn State graduate Elizabeth McCulloch, creator of Project Vive, spoke at an event celebrating a $1 million grant from PNC Bank to support entrepreneurship at the Happy Valley LanchBox on the afternoon of Jan. 22. McCulloch discussed the importance of funding for startup companies and the strong mentorship that the Invent Penn State initiative provided her and her business plan.

Image: Patrick Mansell

“PNC Bank is engaging with the Invent Penn State initiative to drive economic development in Happy Valley,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president of Central Pennsylvania. “We have already begun working with startups at Happy Valley LaunchBox, and look forward to seeing the impact our relationship will have in the future.”

PNC’s commitment to Penn State’s mission spans more than a half-century. Penn State Children’s Hospital, the Schreyer Honors College, the Smeal College of Business, and the College of Information Sciences and Technology are just a few of the areas that have received leadership-level support from PNC. The University recognized PNC as its Corporate Partner of the Year in 2007. With PNC’s recent commitment to Happy Valley LaunchBox, the company’s total philanthropic support for the University now exceeds $9.4 million.

Opened on March 31, 2016, Happy Valley LaunchBox has already graduated 31 startups. One such startup is Project Vive, developed by Penn State biomedical engineering student Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, which allows individuals with nonverbal cerebral palsy and related disabilities to communicate using a low-cost speech-generating device named “Voz Box.”

“I had a dream to give a voice to the voiceless, but I lacked the money, experience and materials to pursue this dream,” said McCulloch. “The people and resources at Happy Valley LaunchBox enabled me to turn my idea into reality. I am deeply grateful to Invent Penn State for making these resources available — and to PNC for investing in the innovation hub model.”

Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank, provides no-cost business advice, legal and intellectual property advice, as well as co-working and meeting space from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The LaunchBox also offers two no-cost startup accelerator programs — the Idea Test Lab and the FastTrack Accelerator — which run multiple times per year and afford their participants up to one year of co-working space. All services are available to anyone — students, faculty and community members. Learn more at

About PNC Bank

PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking, including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit

About Invent Penn State

Invent Penn State is a Pennsylvania-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university-community collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research and discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit the Commonwealth and humankind. Learn more at

About 'A Greater Penn State'

Gifts from Penn State's alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University's historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university: Private support will keep the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; create transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impact the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit  

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Last Updated January 22, 2018