Penn State Embraces New Approach to Entrepreneurship Student Initiatives Represent Tectonic Shift

“There is an incredible difference between what Penn State did five years ago and what it is doing today,” he said. “It’s night and day. Then, there was little support for faculty and students who wanted to start a business. Now, there is real, concrete change taking place. The movement to promote and foster those who are entrepreneurial is getting stronger every day.”

At one time, entrepreneurship classes and experiences only touched the lives of a small group of students. Now, instead of 40 students, the program is assisting 175 students. “The program was restructured to support many more students,” Beaury said.

Today, there are seven approved clusters of entrepreneurship:

  • The tech-based entrepreneurship cluster in the College of Engineering
  • The social-based cluster in the College of Engineering
  • The New Ventures cluster in the Smeal College of Business
  • The Hotel and Hospitality Management cluster in the College of Health and Human Development
  • The Digital Innovation cluster in the College of Information Science and Technology
  • The Food and Bio-Innovation cluster in the College of Agricultural Sciences
  • The New Media cluster in the College of Communications

“The College of Arts and Architecture is currently developing its cluster,” Beaury said. “Other colleges are expected to do the same, so it’s continuing to grow.”

In addition to a refocusing of undergraduate curriculum, graduate-level programs are in various stages of development. For example, there is a one-year Masters-level program in Leadership and Intrapreneurship. According to Beaury, “This provides employees in large organizations a new way to act as an entrepreneur within those organizations.”

Outside activities are also taking place, like the Summer Founders program. Groups of entrepreneurs were picked from 45 applications, and they were each given $10,000 to stay in Happy Valley for the summer to work on their business projects.

Beaury said new competitions for startup groups are popping up all the time at Penn State and neighboring campuses looking for ways to partner and learn from one another. “Bucknell, Penn State, and Pitt Johnstown are cooperating on a Shark-Tank like competition,” he said. “This program is sponsored by a significant grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.”

He also noted that Global Entrepreneurship week, scheduled for the week before the Thanksgiving holiday, will be recognized prominently at Penn State. “It’s a worldwide event,” Beaury explained. “Last year, Penn State was number one in the events scheduled by one institution for the week. I’d say we’re a big deal in this effort. When it comes to entrepreneurship and transfer of technology, I see real positive change here at Penn State.”

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