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PNC Gives $1 Million to Happy Valley LaunchBox

by on January 22, 2018 7:20 PM

PNC Bank has committed $1 million to Happy Valley LaunchBox, Penn State's innovation hub in State College dedicated to providing support and resources to early-stage startups.

Penn State and PNC officials made the announcement during an event at the LaunchBox on Monday afternoon.

As part of Penn State's current, five-year fundraising campaign "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," the university will match PNC's grant, bringing the new funding total to $2 million. Happy Valley Launchbox, 224 S. Allen St., is one of 17 innovation hubs developed across Pennsylvania as part of the Invent Penn State Initiative to spur business development through collaboration with communities.

The campaign is pledging a university matching support for each innovation hub when private giving to its endowment reaches $1 million. Happy Valley LaunchBox is the first to reach that goal.

"We believe that our innovation hubs are key to driving economic development in Pennsylvania, and contributions from alumni, friends and corporate partners like PNC will ensure that our innovation hubs can serve Pennsylvania’s communities for years to come,” Penn State President Eric Barron said.

The entrepreneurial center has been renamed "Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank" in recognition of the gift.

PNC, which employs nearly 600 Penn State alumni, has a long history of support for the university Barron said.

"They’ve often stepped forward early when it’s especially important that early initiatives have partners that signal the importance of what we’re doing," Barron said.

He added that the new gift will take Happy Valley LaunchBox "to the next level."

"We’re going to be around for a long time doing great things in this community," Barron said.

In addition to the monetary support, PNC executives will participate in a speaker series, mentorship programs and other efforts to help  new entrepreneurs.

James Hoehn, PNC regional president of Central Pennsylvania, said he believes the work at Happy Valley LaunchBox will benefit the region and the rest of Pennsylvania.

"We feel so strongly about the interface between higher education and economic development that we’re very, very happy to support this effort," Hoehn said. "There’s been a lot of great work done already, and we know that this is merely the tip of the iceberg in providing resources, coordination and collaboration."

Happy Valley LaunchBox opened in 2016 and offers free resources such as co-working space, legal and business advice and entrepreneurial programs. The services are available to anyone in the community. Since it opened, 31 startups have graduated from LaunchBox's business accelerator program, raising $425,000 in funding.

Among those is Project Vive, which has created speech-generation technology called the Voz Box designed to be an low-cost device for individuals with non-verbal disabilities.

The company was recently awarded the grand prize from among 1,100 entries at the Cisco Global Problem Solvers Challenge. Founder Mary Elizabeth McCulloch said on Monday that Happy Valley LaunchBox and other Penn State and local resources like the Small Business Development Center have been vital to her company's success.

"LaunchBox is where it started and now we’re out in the community," she said, noting that Project Vive now rents space from Videon in State College. "We may have moved out to make new teams with new dreams but we are still part of this LaunchBox community... It is because of this support team we can wake up each day and say today will be a brighter day and move one step closer to give voice to the voiceless."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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