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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

The Pennsylvania State University


University Centre, Pennsylvania

Project Name




Award Amount


Matching Amount


Despite the advantage of hosting Penn State, tech startup activity and the creation of new high paying jobs has been slow in central Pennsylvania.  Relatively low unemployment figures do not reflect all of those who were forced to take several part‐time jobs or those who have exhausted their benefits and fallen off the radar.  Median incomes for Centre County and all contiguous counties are below the national median income of $53,046, ranging from $38,671 in Mifflin County to $49,706 in Centre County.  Approximately 16,500 people remain unemployed, and 26% of those who are working make an annual salary of less than $25,000.

TechCelerator, which is designed for early-stage tech-based start-ups, provides an array of pre-launch business and market research services designed to assist entrepreneurs in converting business ideas into reality, but with the benefit of a “safety net.”  The TechCelerator is a pre-accelerator that is specifically designed to allow technologists who have not identified themselves as future business owners to explore entrepreneurship and commercialization pathways for technologies and arrive at educated go/no-go decisions.  This proposed project not only delivers services that are expected to result in $30 million in economic benefits, but also takes on the task of catalyzing a replicable, rural innovation strategy to foster an entrepreneurial culture and create economic growth along the way.

TechCelerator has defined four steps in the commercialization process that will become the sequential objectives of this project: (1) build outreach and awareness, (2) streamline and support technology transfer activities, (3) provide critical business support to innovative tech entrepreneurs, and finally (4) provide critical incubation and transformation services to the company to ensure that they are soundly established and become globally competitive.  The project will enhance the support system by focusing or establishing services and programs to support TechCelerator efforts and to develop a strong, vibrant entrepreneurial culture that will create a large, sustainable pipeline of startup activity in Centre County and the surrounding counties.  The impact of this project will include 40 new companies in 3 years and $10 million in private investment leveraged and $30 million in economic benefits within 5 years of the project for the 40 central Pennsylvania companies alone.