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Re-Energizing the College's Culture

Through E&I, the college's culture is shifting to a more entrepreneurial mindset.
Bridge the GapSci envisions providing basic lab supplies to students in West African countries. The team: Dr. Josephine Garban, Dr. Sarah Owusu, Shawntawnee Collins, Kerry Belton and Jamaal James. (Photo by Lisa Duchene)

Bridge the GapSci envisions providing basic lab supplies to students in West African countries. The team: Dr. Josephine Garban, Dr. Sarah Owusu, Shawntawnee Collins, Kerry Belton and Jamaal James. (Photo by Lisa Duchene)

The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program — or “E&I” — represents the college's renewed commitment to innovation. What began with one Penn Stater's goal to better prepare students to create and run their own businesses evolved to re-energize the college's entire culture to a more entrepreneurial mindset.

E&I has helped five new companies, including InterSeeder Technologies, to sprout from research at the college.  So far, more than 70 faculty members have worked to commercialize their research, leading to 10 patents and 19 licensing agreements. Many faculty also partner with food and agricultural science companies on research projects.

E&I has helped undergraduate students start more than 30 of their own businesses and non-profit ventures. It hosts entrepreneurs on campus to tell their stories, mentors students, offers new undergraduate classes for entrepreneurs in the agricultural sciences and a new minor degree program.

Hans Vriens tells his story of establishing Red Bull in the U.S. market in April 2013 as the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum speaker. (Photo by Jessica Paholsky)

E&I’s signature event, Ag Springboard, awards $10,000 every April to the best student business pitches. (Think “Shark Tank” — but just for ag sciences students.)

Through the E&I Program’s initial results, the college is helping to lead a university-wide focus on entrepreneurship. Penn State President Eric Barron’s $30 million Invent Penn State initiative urges the Penn State community across the commonwealth to drive job creation, economic development and student career success. E&I collaborates with Invent Penn State and shares its goals.

“This is the modern-day mission of a land-grant institution,” says Barron.

Quote from Dustin Betz of GreenTowers about Ag Springboard being the catalyst that pushed their business forward