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Co-Founder: Innoblue Expects to Secure a State College Facility by Spring

on December 09, 2010 1:23 PM

Innoblue, an emerging entrepreneurial group led by Penn State students, expects to have a facility lined up in State College by spring 2011, co-founder David Adewumi said.

Speaking with StateCollege.com, Adewumi said he believes the Innoblue incubator site will be "somewhere walkable from downtown" and the University Park campus, though he declined to cite specific potential locations.

He did say that Innoblue, about nine months old, will not be housed in the former Verizon building, 224 S. Allen St. The borough government owns that property, and Innoblue had voiced some preliminary interest this year in using the space.

But Adewumi said last week that Innoblue more realistically would like a facility with abundant natural light -- a feature that the former Verizon building lacks.

The group met recently with several borough-government leaders, and believes that the Borough Council will work with Innoblue to help position a facility in the downtown area, Adewumi said.

The overarching idea is for Innoblue and its partners to house and encourage an array of up-and-coming entrepreneurial ventures launched by students and other local residents. Centering the ventures in a shared location could help foster collaboration and create cost-effective, technologically advanced work spaces, organizers have said.

Thirteen local ventures and inventors were featured last week at Innoblue's Demo Day event, attended by more than 100 people in the Beaver Stadium recruiting lounge. About a dozen potential investors were among the attendees.

Borough Council President Ron Filippelli said he was impressed with the gathering, which featured communications, transportation and other business concepts. (A video featuring Demo Day is available through the Innoblue website.)

"I personally would like to be able to help them," Filippelli said of Innoblue. " ... The way the borough can help (is to provide) them some space to set up, to have a place where they could go, interact, have technology infrastructure to pursue their interests."

He cited a couple possible options -- one a finished area inside the Fraser Street parking garage, the other some unfinished space on the third floor of the borough municipal building on Allen Street. Innoblue has mentioned the borough-building space before.

Borough Council has not formally discussed the issue yet, Filippelli said. But "my own feeling is, if we were to provide space for a trial period, that Innoblue would be required to pay for the build-out. I don't think we can use taxpayer dollars to pay for the build-out."

Filippelli said he also would "favor a trial period where Innoblue might be using the space for a year or two. Then they'd have to come up with a way to pay for it. We're not going to be in the business of doing it for nothing forever."

Likewise, borough Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said that "we want (Innoblue) to be successful."

"We'd like to have them in town," she said, confirming that the group is talking with the borough. "We really want them to be somehow housed downtown."

Borough Council may address the issue at a public meeting within the next several weeks. StateCollege.com will post additional information as it becomes available.

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