Penn State Startup Week set for March 26-30 on University Park campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University Park campus will once again play host to dozens of entrepreneurs and innovative thought leaders during Penn State Startup Week from March 26-30. The campus-wide initiative is an expansion of the College of Information Sciences and Technology’s IST Startup Week, which the college created in 2012.

Throughout the week, students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to participate in a variety of events that will teach, motivate and inspire attendees to make innovation a part of their careers, whether it’s by thinking differently in an existing position or starting their own companies.

Most events are open to the public and many events will be livestreamed online. A complete listing of the week’s events can be found on the Startup Week website.

This year’s events encourage guests to “be greater” than the negative forces that can limit innovation — complacency with the status quo, expectations to follow a traditional path, or a fear of failure. Through close collaboration with existing University programs, community partners, and Invent Penn State, events will also expose guests to the larger innovation ecosystem that exists across Penn State and in the surrounding communities.

“The collaborative efforts that make Startup Week successful demonstrate the University’s commitment to nurturing the innovative spirit in our students,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “The week’s events expose students to cross-disciplinary activities while introducing them to resources that will help them succeed. The week is inspiring, educational and fun.”

Eleven academic colleges and three administrative units have planned workshops, mentoring sessions, and panel discussions that will connect innovators across a broad collection of disciplines and industries. Students can also pitch their ideas in several competitions and explore entrepreneurial resources during three engagement fairs.

“Startup Week offers a tremendous opportunity not only to inspire innovative thought and action but also showcase Penn State’s commitment to entrepreneurship,” said Susan Sampsell, head of the Startup Week steering committee and director of administrative services in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “We’re excited to connect the University community with our speakers and expand Penn State’s innovative footprint.”

A series of keynote panels will be held in 110 Business Building to showcase thought-leaders who are innovating in unique ways and who are at different stages in their careers. Each panel will be followed by a reception, allowing guests to network with panelists and campus leaders. The panels include:

  • “Someday is Today: Getting Started in Entrepreneurship” on Monday, March 26 – Innovators who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey will share tips and lessons learned from their experiences in getting started.
  • "Innovation Happens Everywhere: Intrapreneurship in Established Organizations” on Tuesday, March 27 – Intrapreneurs and corporate innovators will share how individuals can innovate within their roles with large, established organizations.
  • "The Entrepreneur’s Journey: Learning from Successes and Setbacks” on Wednesday, March 28 – Individuals who have sustained success in innovation will share wisdom, advice and pitfalls to avoid with those pursuing their own entrepreneurial goals.

“The panelists’ personal stories and professional expertise provide the perfect chance for up-and-coming innovators to learn from those who have done it and are doing it well,” Sampsell added.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, students can attend a series of three resource fairs in the HUB’s Noontime Lounge that will introduce them to a different component of the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: academic opportunities, student organizations, and campus and community resources. Representatives from groups in each area will be on hand to answer questions and guide students toward opportunities and resources that best match their interests.

The week also will feature several competitions that challenge students to find innovative solutions to common problems or present new startup ideas to panels of expert judges. Many of the competitions include awards such as seed funding, access to resources, and experiential prizes, including trips to entrepreneurial conferences.

On Thursday evening, the top teams from each competition will gather at Pegula Ice Arena for a special reception with Startup Week speakers, President Barron and other University administrators. Student teams will have the opportunity to showcase their work and receive additional feedback.

Penn State Startup Week is an evolution of IST’s original event, which was created to celebrate a $400,000 gift to support student entrepreneurs from David Rusenko, class of 2007. The gift — the largest from an IST graduate in the college's history — created the "David Rusenko Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship" and the "David Rusenko Entrepreneur in Residence Scholarship," both of which continue to help IST students launch their own companies while they are still in school.

“The continued growth of Startup Week is a testament to Penn State and IST’s commitment to expand our entrepreneurial resources and foster innovation with our students,” said Andrew Sears, dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology. “We’re excited to see the spirit of David’s initial commitment to support student entrepreneurs have a lasting impact on the broader University community.”

For detailed information on Penn State Startup Week, including the full week’s schedule, visit StartupWeek.psu.edu. Participants can engage with speakers and ask questions by following @PSUStartupWeek on Twitter and using #PennStateStartup or #BeGreater on social media.

Media Contacts: 

Jordan Ford

Work Phone: 
814-865-6675

Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Information Sciences and Technology

Last Updated March 28, 2018