Penn State, Grow PA host meeting to discuss state's innovation economy

Gergen answers question

Christopher Gergen, CEO of Forward Cities, right, answers a question during a Grow PA event hosted at Penn State Harrisburg on Oct. 25. The event brought together leaders from business, industry and government from around the state to discuss innovation and the Pennsylvania economy.

Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Leaders from business, industry and government from around the state gathered at Penn State Harrisburg on Oct. 25 to discuss innovation and the Pennsylvania economy.

The event, “The State of Innovation: Generating Ideas to Grow,” brought stakeholders to the campus to talk about developing a state-wide innovation strategy and increasing investment in innovation in an effort to revitalize Pennsylvania’s innovation economy. 

Nick Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost, talked about the University’s efforts at fostering innovation at its campuses and across Pennsylvania. 

“When we launched the Invent Penn State initiative four years ago, we hoped it would facilitate technology-driven economic development and job creation throughout Pennsylvania,” he said. “Since then, we’ve opened innovation hubs in 21 Penn State campus communities, and they have attracted nearly $5 million in external matched and leveraged funds. Virtually all Pennsylvania residents live within 30 minutes of an Invent Penn State hub.”

He continued, “Recent data tells us that 39 new Pennsylvania companies, 72 products and 89 jobs have stemmed from entrepreneurial activity involving more than 1,500 students at our campuses. Those numbers are sure to grow.”

The event also featured discussion of a report by Brookings, “Ideas for Pennsylvania’s Innovation Policy,” which looked at efforts by competitor states and national leaders, and the challenges Pennsylvania faces in jumpstarting its innovation efforts. The forum also highlighted other leaders who have pioneered efforts in their communities to help their part of Pennsylvania grow.

The meeting was coordinated by Grow PA, a statewide initiative that convenes people and organizations across the state to advance a modern growth agenda, with support by Penn State.

“What Penn State’s trying to do in partnership with Grow PA is to create conversations around economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation — identifying the problem and talking about policies,” said Zack Moore, vice president of government and community relations for the University. “That’s what today’s meeting was all about — getting these stakeholders in the same place so we can have that conversation.”

Moore continued, “Traditional workforce development around the state is primarily focused on filling immediate needs. The Grow PA partners are looking beyond that — 10, 15, 20, 30 years from now, and look at future industries and future businesses that will really propel growth and make Pennsylvania a national leader in economic development. Penn State believes it can play a huge role in a potential new economy.”