Penn State President Eric Barron put a deal on the table when it came to one of his pet projects, Invent Penn State and its startup incubators.
Give me $1 million, he told donors, and the university would put one in the same.
PNC Bank is taking him up on that offer and investing $1 million into the Happy Valley LaunchBox.
The LaunchBox program is a next-generation nursery for growing ideas into startup companies with the longevity and potential to drive Pennsylvania’s economy. Happy Valley LaunchBox is one of 17 across the state.
According to the university, PNC is the first donor take advantage of Barron’s dollar-for-dollar match under the school’s “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” fundraising campaign that started in 2016.
In return, the State College hub has been renamed the “Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank.”
“Penn State is deeply grateful for PNC’s leadership in supporting Happy Valley LaunchBox. We believe that our innovation hubs are key to driving economic development in Pennsylvania, and investment from alumni, friends and corporate partners like PNC will ensure that our innovation hubs can serve Pennsylvania’s communities for years to come,” Barron said.
Barron’s million dollar challenge didn’t have to come all from one source. It could come in $25,000 here and $100 there, but when it hit the total, the university would give the match. PNC’s commitment is not just the first such single gift, but makes the Happy Valley LaunchBox the first to be fully funded at all.
According to the university, the money “will provide operational funding to the innovation hub each year, ensuring that it continues to spark economic development and support entrepreneurship in perpetuity.” Barron said the Pittsburgh-based bank’s gift “marks a turning point for the Invent Penn State initiative and our innovation hubs, because their gift will encourage additional supporters to come forward.”
The grant creates a relationship between the bank and Happy Valley LaunchBox by allowing PNC executives to participate in various entrepreneurial programs.
“PNC Bank is thrilled to partner with the Invent Penn State initiative to drive economic development across the commonwealth,” said Jim Hoehn, regional president of PNC Bank of Central Pennsylvania. “We have already begun working with startups at Happy Valley LaunchBox, and we look forward to seeing the impact our partnership will have in the future.”