Penn State

Barron calls for culture of entrepreneurship at Penn State

When it comes to research and technology, Penn State has plenty of places to point out where it is a leader.

When it comes to licensing that research and technology, not so much.

The university ranks 62nd in the country when it comes to making money off its innovations. President Eric Barron wants to see that change. He outlined his ideas for the board of trustees Friday.

He talked about his plans for a “culture of entrepreneurship” to prepare more students and faculty to not just come up with great ideas, but to capitalize on them.

Those plans include ideas for change in many different areas, from an intercollegiate entrepreneurship minor and basic courses in business for students in every major to creating partnerships between innovators and marketers and streamlining a process that would allow students with business ideas that would work on campus to find a way to make it happen.

He would also like to see a Penn State branded platform to attract angel investors and venture capitalists to projects in development, as well as fostering more interaction between Penn State and the Commonwealth Campuses with economic development groups like the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County to develop not just great ideas, but ideas that will work for local needs.

All of that needs one thing: buy-in from the state. It’s part of the proposal Barron wants to make for the 2015-16 budget.

The projections call for $307 million, up $17.3 million over the 2014-15 state appropriation of $289.7 million.

Included in that is a $1.8 million line item for eight entrepreneurs-in-residence to join the faculty, as well as $600,000 for bringing in staff members such as an intellectual property attorneys and licensing officers.

According to the budget, the university has trimmed $34.4 million in expenses and is raising non-tuition revenue by $4 million. Of the total $61.4 million in increased income, however, the majority is planned to come from tuition.

The budget includes provisions for $40.6 million in tuition and fee increases. Under the plan, main campus tuition would go up by 2.99 percent. Commonwealth Campus tuition would rise as much as 2.4 percent.

Barron said the final picture won’t be known for months and will include “quite a lot of discussion” with the governor’s office. Complete numbers may not be available until June.