Penn State Hershey entrepreneurs win first 'startup boot camp' awards

Joseph Sassani, ophthalmologist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and professor of ophthalmology and pathology at Penn State College of Medicine, is the winner of The TechCelerator@Hershey’s inaugural eight-week boot camp program for promising entrepreneurs. Sassani was awarded the $6,000 grand prize to support the formation of Microsurgery Simulation Software LLC.

Sassani and his team are developing the company out of Penn State, to build a simulation system to teach, test and certify medical residents and experienced surgeons in microsurgery. The simulator offers a more realistic surgical experience than current simulators providing enhanced training for micro surgeons.

“The program was both fun and highly informative,” Sassani said. “It provides the business background necessary to facilitate moving new ideas from the bench to bedside. Learning from people that have been successful in this arena makes all the difference.”

The TechCelerator@Hershey is a program of Ben Franklin Technology Partners and is supported by Penn State College of Medicine, The Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC, The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Venture Investment Forum and the Hershey Center for Applied Research, which offers entrepreneurial training, business support and mentoring services for entrepreneurs in the life science community.

Receiving an award of $4,000 was another Penn State College of Medicine technology developed by John Wawrzyniak, a physical therapist Penn State Hershey Medical Center in collaboration with three Medical Center physicians to develop a mobile app to assist patients in shortening the rehabilitation process.

Five other developing companies successfully participated in the eight-week program and made final presentations to a panel of judges from the regional investor community.

“We were pleased to expand the TechCelerator program to Hershey and incorporate the life sciences community,” said Dick Heddleson, director of the TechCelerator@Hershey. “In my opinion, each participant came out of the program as a winner. The companies discussed their technology with a network of experts in order to refine their business plans and learn the skills required to pursue a start-up company.”

The TechCelerator@Hershey targets Penn State researchers with the desire to commercialize intellectual property related to health and medicine. The next eight-week boot camp begins on Sept. 25. For more information, visit or contact the Office of Technology Development at 717-531-8496 or

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Last Updated June 13, 2013