$2.4M Endowed Support Boosts Entrepreneurship at Berks LaunchBox

READING, Pa. – Philanthropic support expands the services of Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State, which offers a range of entrepreneurship and economic development resources for the community of Reading. The donations, worth $1.2 million, received 1:1 matches from the LaunchBox Matching Program or the Economic Development Incentive Matching Program, doubling the total value of the endowments to $2.4 million dollars and improving the intended impact of programs.

“These donations represent an exciting step forward for the Berks LaunchBox as they establish a solid financial foundation for LaunchBox’s activities,” said Penn State Berks Chancellor George Grant. “When Reading leaders support tools and services that encourage innovation and collaboration, the impact is huge and the whole community benefits. Forming partnerships and spreading knowledge is at the heart of Penn State’s mission, and we are truly grateful for the generosity that helps advance these goals.

The Berks LaunchBox serves as an entrepreneurial hub for the reading community and is part of the Penn State LaunchBox and Innovation Network, created as part of the Invent Penn State initiative. Launched in collaboration with Penn State Health St. Joseph and housed at the Goggleworks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, the LaunchBox is designed to provide start-ups with the free acceleration programs, support and resources they will need. need to initiate and grow into greater reading.

LaunchBox’s main facilities are a makerspace, which provides a wide range of tools and equipment for developing and prototyping product designs, and a free coworking space open to certain types of start-up entrepreneurs. The Berks LaunchBox also offers educational and support resources, including webinars on legal issues, accounting basics, social media marketing and prototype development, as well as workshops on topics such as discovering clients, creating a business model canvas, creating a corporate website, creating a pitch, 3D printing and more. These services at LaunchBox are bolstered by the expertise of twenty experienced business advisors, who work with entrepreneurs to help reduce risk and accelerate their startups.

Several startups in the region have recently received support from the Berks LaunchBox, including GenHydro, a hydrogen-based green energy producer; World Brand, producer of biodegradable straws; and DN Organics, a natural hair care company offering plant-based products for curly hair.

Two companies that used a range of LaunchBox support services began selling their products in 2022. Enigma Networkz, a cybersecurity software company helping small and medium-sized businesses protect their data, received an investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and $200,000 from the Angel Investment Network to help small and medium businesses protect their data. CartoCamp, which makes lightweight sleeping platforms for car camping, recently won the 2022 Invent Penn State Inc.U competition, securing a $15,000 investment.

“In the short time since opening, the Berks LaunchBox has already had a positive impact on Reading’s economy,” said Pamela Shupp Menet, Berks County Community and Economic Development Manager. “He has enormous potential to further drive innovation, collaboration and revitalization and is a fundamental partner in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The ongoing funding made possible by these donations means that LaunchBox will be able to fulfill this potential, building on the facilities and programming it already offers to better meet the growing and dynamic needs of our small business community and of entrepreneurship in the uncertain times ahead. ”

The Berks LaunchBox is a flagship program of Invent Penn State, a $30 million initiative launched in 2015 by former Penn State President Eric Barron to spur economic development, job creation and the professional success of students. Invent Penn State provided seed funding to start 21 campus-affiliated innovation spaces in inner cities across the Commonwealth. The Berks LaunchBox was created in 2016 with an initial three-year university grant.

“We are deeply grateful to the business leaders and foundations in Reading who provide philanthropic support to Berks LaunchBox so that we can strengthen services carefully tailored to meet the needs of start-ups in our community,” said Erica Kunkel, interim. director of the Berks LaunchBox. “We all understand the urgent need to invest in the people and organizations that generate new ideas and products, create jobs and find innovative solutions to challenges in our region. These new resources will be an engine of economic development that will reinvigorate partnerships and growth throughout the region.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016-2022, philanthropy helps maintain the University’s tradition of education, research, and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the world. . Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from all walks of life, support for transformative experiences enables our students and faculty to realize their vast leadership potential, and donations toward discovery and excellence help us serve and influence the world we share. To learn more about the impact of donations and the continued need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.

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