$2.4 million in endowed support spurs entrepreneurship at Berks LaunchBox

READING, Pa. — Philanthropic support expands services at Berks LaunchBox, powered by Penn State, which provides a variety of entrepreneurial and economic development resources to the Reading community. The gifts, valued at $1.2 million, received 1:1 matches from the LaunchBox matching program or the Economic Development Incentive Program, doubling the total value of the grants to $2.4 million and improving the programs’ intended impact.

“These gifts are an exciting step forward for Berks LaunchBox as they create a solid financial foundation for LaunchBox,” said George Grant, Chancellor of Penn State Berks. “When Reading leaders direct support for tools and services that stimulate innovation and collaboration, the impact is far-reaching and the entire community benefits. Building 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.

Berks LaunchBox serves as an entrepreneurial hub for the Reading community and is part of the Penn State LaunchBox and Innovation Network created through the Invent Penn State initiative. LaunchBox, which was created in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph and based at the Goggleworks Arts Center in central Reading, is designed to provide early-stage companies with the free accelerator programs, support and resources they will need to get off the ground. and grow in wider reading.

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LaunchBox’s main features are a makerspace that provides a wide range of tools and equipment for product design and prototyping, as well as a free coworking space open to specific types of early-stage entrepreneurs. Berks LaunchBox also offers educational and support resources, including webinars on legal issues, accounting basics, social media marketing and prototyping, as well as workshops on topics such as customer discovery, business model canvas, business website development, pitching, 3D printing and more what else. These LaunchBox services are enhanced by the expertise of twenty experienced business consultants who work with entrepreneurs to help de-risk and accelerate their startups.

Several area startups have recently received early-stage support from Berks LaunchBox, including GenHydro, a producer of green hydrogen energy; World Brand, manufacturer of biodegradable drinking straws; and DN Organics, a natural hair care company that offers plant-based products for curly hair.

Two companies that have used various support services from LaunchBox started selling their products in 2022. Enigma Networkz, a cybersecurity software company that helps small and medium-sized businesses keep their data safe, received an investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and $200,000 from Angel Investment Network to help small and medium-sized 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.

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“In the short time since opening its doors, Berks LaunchBox has already made a positive impact on the Redding economy,” said Berks County Community and Economic Development Director Pamela Shupa Menetta. “It has huge potential to further drive innovation, collaboration and revitalization and is a core partner in our business ecosystem. The ongoing funding provided by these gifts means that LaunchBox will be able to fulfill this potential by building on the opportunities and programming already offered to better meet the growing and dynamic needs of our small business and entrepreneurial community in uncertain times. “

Berks LaunchBox is a signature program of Invent Penn State, a $30 million initiative launched in 2015 by former Penn State President Eric Baron to promote economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State provided seed grant funding to create 21 campus-related innovation spaces at Commonwealth Centers. Berks LaunchBox was established in 2016 through an initial three-year university grant.

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“We are very grateful to Reading’s business leaders and foundations who provide philanthropic support to Berks LaunchBox so that we can support services that are carefully tailored to the needs of startups in our community,” said Erika Kunkel, Interim. Berks Director of LaunchBox. “We all understand the urgent need to invest in people and organizations that create new ideas and products, create jobs and find innovative solutions to our region’s challenges. These new resources will be an engine of economic development that will spark partnerships and growth across 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 sustain the university’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the world. . Scholarships allow our institution to open its doors and welcome students from all backgrounds, support for transformative experiences enables our students and faculty to realize their enormous leadership potential, and gifts for discovery and excellence help us serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the ongoing need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.

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