IST Startup Week celebrates five years at Penn State

April 06, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Monday, April 11, IST Startup Week, hosted by the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State, will kick off its weeklong celebration of ingenuity and inspiration for the fifth straight year.

Once again bringing Silicon Valley to Happy Valley, IST Startup Week is designed to showcase the wealth of possibilities that exist for enterprising students as emerging thought leaders in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Throughout the week, students will be able to participate in workshops, collaborative think tanks, team challenges and competitions; attend innovation expos designed to inspire; connect with fellow entrepreneurs at networking events; sit in on presentations given by leading industry innovators, including many alumni; and much more.

“We’re back for another year — our fifth — with IST Startup Week, and we’re so glad to see its continued growth," said Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST. “We try to raise the bar with new events and incredible speakers, and we feel we’ve done that again this year. The students have always responded in kind, giving their absolute best with every opportunity, and we’re looking forward to another successful week of innovation.”

A popular segment of last year’s event, Inc. U in the Startup Tank, a three-hour face-to-face pitching session where investors (aka “sharks”) have been invited to campus for the sole purpose of funding enterprising startups, will return for a second year to Startup Week.

Inc. U, whose goal is to develop an environment for student startups across campuses and Pennsylvania, will be making $7,000 in funding available to full-time Penn State University Park students during the Startup Tank, taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, April 11, in Foster Auditorium.

The hallmark of IST Startup Week is the speaker series, and this year’s lineup of successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs includes a corporate keynote from Chandra McMahon, senior vice president and chief information security officer at Verizon, on April 11.

The following day, April 12, the focus shifts to technology, as high school students from the area will be on site for the final round of the iTech Propose an App Challenge. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in Heritage Hall, 20 eager teams will present their problem-solving apps, competing for a $5,000 cash prize.

Later, at noon, Heritage Hall will host the Interactive Innovation Expo, sponsored by Verizon. The expo is designed to showcase innovative technology companies and allow students to better understand how these companies leverage entrepreneurial thinking to develop cutting-edge solutions for their customers. Attendees of the expo will have the opportunity to test out Oculus Rift (next generation virtual reality), Go90 (revolutionary social entertainment platform), Liquid Image (wearable and mountable live streaming 4G enabled camera) and more during product demonstrations by Verizon. Presentations by Ciena and Penn State Maker Commons round out the interactive technology projects on display.

On Wednesday, April 13, and Thursday, April 14, industry speakers from companies including Nokia, POLITICO and PricewaterhouseCoopers will share their stories, capped off by an address from Weebly co-founders Chris Fanini and David Rusenko.

With competitors vying for a trip to Silicon Valley and valuable time spent at a featured startup or accelerator, final judging for the IdeaMakers Challenge will take place at 6 p.m. April 13 in the Cybertorium.

Six cross-college teams have been selected as finalists in the challenge, and each will be identifying a problem and potential technology-based solution that they will pitch to a panel of industry judges.

The final day of IST Startup Week begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 15, with the Student Entrepreneurship Summit, a two-hour gathering at Alumni Hall in University Park, with the goal of connecting entrepreneurial students from across the Penn State Commonwealth campuses to share lessons learned and best practices in the realm of student entrepreneurship. The summit will include an entrepreneurial “Fireside Chat” with key student ecosystem organizers, presentations from Commonwealth campuses on their respective entrepreneurial climates, and mini-keynotes from startup founders on how they balance the student and entrepreneurial lifestyles.

Keynote panelists at the summit will include Eric Barron, Penn State president; Neil Sharkey, vice president for research; Madlyn Hanes, vice president of Commonwealth campuses; and Anne Hoag, director of the intercollege minor in entrepreneurship and innovation [ENTI].

The Silicon Valley Speaker Finale, taking place in Alumni Hall from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on April 15, closes out the speaker series and IST Startup Week, with talks from Greg Duffy, founder of Stealth Startup; Daniel Kan, co-founder and chief operations officer of Cruise Automation; Emmett Shear, CEO of Twitch; Evan Stites-Clayton, co-founder and chief technology officer of Teespring; and Steve Huffman, co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk.

All events during IST Startup Week are open to the public and most events, including all speaker talks, will be live-streamed on the IST website.

For detailed information on IST Startup Week, including the full week’s schedule, visit

Last Updated April 06, 2016