Summer Founders Program offers $15,000 to student startup teams

January 09, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 2020 Summer Founders program provides selected Penn State entrepreneurial teams (founders) $15,000 to work full time on their startup, social good or nonprofit idea. Working over the summer, the program provides workspace and a plethora of resources and support.  

2020 Summer Founders application deadline: Feb 16. Apply online.

According to James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, the Summer Founders Program propels a startup team’s ideas and encourages creative problem-solving through support in three key areas: funding, one-on-one mentoring, and access to experienced professionals and subject-matter experts. Teams also receive access to server credits, SolidWorks, and a POWr subscription.   

“Our expanding Innovation Hub network enables us to connect participating teams with individuals who have specific areas of expertise from across the state,” Delattre said. “The opportunities to learn and gain insights from experienced professionals and entrepreneurs is invaluable to teams during the startup phase. Many successful startups have graduated from Summer Founders, including Phopholutions, Project Vive and Moichor.”   

Delattre continued, “In past years we’ve received as many as 50 applications and have selected five to six teams annually to participate in the program.”

Applications for the program are being accepted through Feb. 16.


The Summer Founders Program, a signature program of Invent Penn State, is open to any Penn State undergraduate or graduate student with an entrepreneurial endeavor. Solo founders are eligible, but teams of two or three people are preferred. To be eligible, participating teams must include at least one member that is a Penn State or World Campus student in good standing who is working on a U.S.-based business. Teams are expected to work full time on their startup, social good or nonprofit idea, attend weekly dinners, and meet regularly with advisers throughout the duration of the program.

Program details

  • Founders meet regularly with mentors and other entrepreneurs to grow their network and accelerate their startup, social good or nonprofit idea.
  • Founders also meet with other founders, business leaders and mentors over a weekly dinner.
  • Teams have 24/7 access to co-working space, free Wi-Fi, coffee and printing at Happy Valley LaunchBox.
  • Some teams may be eligible for an additional $3,000 to support customer discovery through the Invent Penn State I-Corps Site program.

Important dates

  • Applications close: Feb. 16 at midnight
  • Finalist interviews conducted: Feb. 27 and 28
  • Teams selected: March 4
  • Cohort dinner: March 24
  • Summer program: May 20 to Aug. 12
  • Startup showcase: Aug. 12   

Funding for the Summer Founders program is provided in part by generous donations from alumni, parents and friends of the University. If you would like to learn more about supporting student startups at Penn State through a philanthropic gift, which could be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match, contact Heather Winfield, director of strategic initiatives in University Development, at

Last Updated January 29, 2020