Penn State a finalist for 2021 APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity Awards

July 02, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named Penn State University as one of six university finalists for its ninth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards, recognizing the Invent Penn State initiative and its LaunchBox & Innovation Hub Network.

The winners will be announced during the association’s annual meeting in November. Penn State is a finalist along with the University of Cincinnati for the IEP Talent award, recognizing exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development.

“The Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Hub Network, embedded within 21 Pennsylvania communities, has created over 150 jobs and assisted thousands of entrepreneurs in getting their startups off the ground — and as we continue to grow, we remain committed to providing the entrepreneurial resources and educational opportunities each individual community needs to prosper,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for Research at Penn State. “We are honored to have been recognized by APLU alongside other outstanding universities for our dedication to supporting jobs and driving positive economic impact across Pennsylvania.”

The network began in 2015 when five Penn State campuses were awarded grants from Invent Penn State’s seed grant program to create community innovation hubs. Over the next three years, Invent Penn State expanded the network to 21 campuses, which now provides communities access to no-cost coworking spaces, makerspaces, accelerator programs, pitch competitions, speaker series, experts and mentors, business advice, legal and IP advice, micro-grants, and community engagement spaces.

Each LaunchBox and innovation hub provides resources specific to the needs of their community and collaborates internally with the network, sharing programming and best practices. In the first five years, the network has engaged more than 10,000 students and faculty, assisted over 3,300 entrepreneurs, and provided free legal and intellectual property consultations to more than 1,500 ventures. During this time, more than 160 startups have formed with help from Invent Penn State.

Penn State is also a finalist for the IEP Economic Engagement Connections award, which is the top-prize in the awards competition, recognizing overall excellence and leveraging across all three award categories.

“Congratulations to this year’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards finalists on their outstanding work to advance regional economic development,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public research universities are major engines of economic development in their region, and the IEP finalists have distinguished themselves as leaders in this space.”

To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.

To earn the IEP designation, universities conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identifies areas for growth and improvement within its economic engagement enterprise and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

Nearly 70 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

About APLU

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 244 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.2 billion in university-based research.

About Invent Penn State

Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success.

The Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Hub Network is made up of 21 hubs embedded in Penn State campus communities offering no-cost coworking space, makerspace, accelerator programs, pitch competitions, speaker series, access to experts and mentors, and legal and IP advice through Penn State Law clinics. Five years since opening, the Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Hub Network has supported 3,325 community entrepreneurs, created 194.5 jobs, and helped to launch 164 new Pennsylvania companies.

To find a nearby location, visit the website.

To view Penn State-affiliated startups, visit

Entrepreneurs seeking resources can visit 

Last Updated July 14, 2021