Penn State Berks is expanding its entrepreneurship offerings with the expansion of its LaunchBox program within a new innovation hub at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading.
The Berks LaunchBox will provide the technology and tools, such as 3D printers, designed to help potential entrepreneurs develop their ideas.
The LaunchBox is expected to open later this month and will be open to the public,
Walter Fullam, director of continuing education for Penn State Berks, said the LaunchBox fills a gap in the system of helping promote invention and entrepreneurship.
He said many programs in support startup and early-stage businesses but that the LaunchBox will be a space for makers and innovators working on their initial steps.
“We’re trying to work with pre-startups, people who have ideas but haven’t really gotten started,” he said.
The goal is to act as a funnel where ideas can come in and the people working on them can get the support they need while they determine whether their ideas are viable.
Fullam said he expects three or four businesses to set up in the co-working space to develop ideas to the point where they might be ready for the help of a business or technology incubator program.
The Berks LaunchBox is supported by Invent Penn State – a $30 million statewide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student success. It was launched by Penn State University President Eric J. Barron in 2016.
Penn State Berks had been working on economic development initiatives with Penn State Health St. Joseph, but felt the space at GoggleWorks was better suited for the makers and innovators it was trying to attract than space at a health care facility.
Both organizations, however, will continue to work together to create medical innovations.