Collaboration between Universities and Industry

Partnerships between Pennsylvania universities and businesses put technology on the fast track to commercialization and the marketplace

There are many renowned educational institutions throughout Pennsylvania — nearly 250 — and DCED seeks to cultivate collaborative relationships with many of them. Read through our highlighted initiatives below to discover the exciting things we’re accomplishing with the next generation of researchers and innovators.


University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Strategic academic-industry partnership with Concurrent Technologies

This new partnership will provide more hands-on research opportunities for faculty and students, and will directly impact Pitt-Johnstown students enrolled in the university’s civil, chemical, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering programs. It will present students with real-world technology challenges and continuously cultivate new engineering talent while providing students with valuable career skills.

Carnegie Mellon University and Lehigh University

Research for Additive Manufacturing (AM) in Pennsylvania (RAMP) program

This program will capitalize on the governor’s goal of building economic competitiveness and sparking job creation by tapping the capabilities of PA’s rich base of research and innovation resources and the new leverage from the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).

The new RAMP will provide economic benefits to PA’s small and medium-sized manufacturing companies by enabling AM knowledge transfer, the discovery of new AM manufacturing technologies, and the retention of highly educated students from Pennsylvania’s premier technical universities.

Clarion University

Clarion Regional Innovation Support Program (CRISP)

Clarion University will partner with the Clarion University Center for Applied Research & Intellectual Property Development, the Clarion University Small Business Development Center, and the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation to create the Clarion Regional Innovation Support Program (CRISP). This regional partnership will provide entrepreneurs access to wet-lab space at the Innovation Laboratories located within the Barnes Center at Clarion University, and access to business consultants and regional financial leaders. In addition, CRISP will offer micro grant support to 10 -15 small technologically-based businesses in northwest Pennsylvania.

Gannon University

Integrated Business Transformation

Gannon University’s Erie Technology Incubator, Small Business Development Center, and College of Engineering and Business are partnering to launch Integrated Business Transformation (IBT), a three-pronged initiative to fast-track the development of technology-based businesses in Northwest PA.

Central to this initiative will be an accelerated 8-week entrepreneurial training program called the Technology Business Accelerator (TBA). The project will be augmented with a microloan program and the involvement of students and faculty from Gannon University’s Dahlkemper School of Business. Microloans at competitive rates will finance the launch or growth of tech businesses for TBA participants, Erie Technology Incubator clients, and entrepreneurs from the region. Student-faculty teams will work with TBA participants to prepare detailed business research reports about their proposed business project.

Keystone College

Regional Center for Excellence in 3-D Design, Innovation, Education, and Manufacturing

Keystone College and its partners, which include Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC), Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Skills in Scranton, and multiple other economic development and business partners, have been working together over the past 18 months to offer a center for education, training, and utilization of 3-D design by regional businesses.

This center will be a resource that companies can call upon to financially, operationally, and logistically utilize CAD-CAM in their business. Keystone’s Center will provide a service that companies can use to assess the ways in which these technologies can fit into their current processes and evaluate what the return on investment would be on a venture into 3-D technologies.

The Learning Factory

Penn State’s Learning Factory brings the real world into the classroom by providing engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry scoped, and sponsored, capstone design projects. Teams of engineering students tackle problems that their sponsors present to them, challenging the students to apply the knowledge and tools acquired during their undergraduate education to help design workable solutions and prototypes.

Projects typically are multi-disciplinary involving designs that require many different engineering skill sets. Certain projects are also designated as “Global” efforts, where our students are given an opportunity to work weekly with engineering students from other renowned international Universities. In 2017/18, more than 1100 engineering students at Penn State University Park completed a record 234 projects for over 150 different sponsors. These sponsoring organizations included companies of all sizes, as well as non-profits and startups. Since the inception of the Penn State Learning Factory in 1995, more than 2,000 such projects have been completed involving more than 9,000 senior engineering students.
For more information, visit the Penn State Learning Factory’s website.

Penn State University

Penn State University made significant changes to its Intellectual Property (IP) policy in 2012 regarding industry-funded research, enabling industry partners to retain the new IP generated by the research they fund. As the only university in the United States with this stance, Penn State’s new IP policy for industry-funded research is providing the university with a major competitive advantage over other universities. The university’s efficient online application process allows researchers at Penn State to determine which college of study is best suited to help a company reach its goals and own the IP they will ultimately generate at Penn State.

Companies that have collaborated with PSU’s Materials Research Institute since the introduction of the new IP Policy include Avery Dennison, Corning Incorporate, Bedford Materials Company, Inc., and more.

“Corning has had a longstanding research relationship with Penn State, but when the IP policy changed, it opened up a whole new way for us to think about doing our work with the university. This new policy lowers the barriers to industry research and creates a self-reinforcing pattern. It gives faculty challenging and relevant projects to work on, creating students who are better equipped to join the workforce upon graduation. Corning is able to work directly with the research team, which has enabled us to identify graduate students as potential employees.”— Daniel J. Vaughn, External Technology Collaborations Manager, Corning Incorporated
Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing – CIMP-3D

Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing (CIMP-3D) is generally regarded to be in the top three leading centers in the country specializing in metal 3-D printing. No other university has Penn State’s range of additive manufacturing capabilities, which range from powder characterization to additive manufacturing to non-destructive inspection/qualification techniques. Penn State has active research and related educational programs in all of these areas. Details about CIMP-3D are available here.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center (PIRC) provides a wide array of client services, designed to foster collaboration with industry. PIRC member companies can bring issues to the PIRC for their team of researchers and student team members to solve. The PIRC offers services in injection molding, blow molding, extrusion/compounding, rotational molding, thermoforming, analytical, rheological, and physical testing.

Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance (PITA)

The mission of the PITA program is to assist the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its companies in increasing operating efficiency and enhancing economic development by: creating an Environment linking Pennsylvania companies, agencies, and students to increase the creation and retention of high-paying jobs in the commonwealth by:

  • Conducting technology development projects with Pennsylvania companies
  • Developing technology leading to new Pennsylvania companies
  • Conducting educational outreach programs for the benefit of Pennsylvania companies and students
  • Seeding research and technology development projects that attract funding from other sources
  • Enabling world-class Pennsylvania universities to remain at the forefront of engineering research and education
The Pennsylvania State University

PennTAP 2.0 Advanced Technical Assistance and Accelerating Innovation

PennTAP 2.0 provides a critical resource to companies through a unified and coordinated entry-point to facilitate company-driven, student-focused design, prototyping, and proof-of-concept interactions across multiple departments, colleges, and universities. PennTAP 2.0 builds upon a proven historical network with the ability to provide services that address industry needs.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)

The PASSHE receives funding to support the PASSHE annual system-wide Student Business Plan Competitions and entrepreneurial programming at each of the 14-member institution’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Centers. The Centers provide a strategic approach to entrepreneurship and support for the business plan competition. This initiative builds upon the previous success of the annual business plan competitions. It offers activities to support student awareness of and readiness for entrepreneurship, and provides the Centers with an enhanced level of services. These services include entrepreneurial mentors, entrepreneurial programming, and internships with local entrepreneurs. Anticipated results include job creation, business start-ups, and further understanding of the entrepreneurial process.

Saint Joseph’s University

Initiative for Family Business and Entrepreneurship

Family businesses are a major driver of our state and national economy, yet they face a significant challenge in transitioning from one generation to the next. In fact, only one-third of family firms survive from first to second generation, and fewer than ten percent survive into the third generation. The goal of the Initiative for Family Business and Entrepreneurship (IFBE) is to change these odds by providing family-owned businesses the tools necessary to increase long-term competitiveness, ownership property and family unity for generations to come. This is accomplished through a combination of world-class education, unique survey assessments, tools that include a personalized plan for growth and succession, and a peer-to-peer approach that brings family business owners together with industry experts for a unique learning experience.

The Pennsylvania Interactive Media Consortium

This project will establish a consortium of educational and industry professionals to fuel the interactive media industry in Pennsylvania by increasing the number of jobs, companies, and entrepreneurs in the booming high-tech sector of digital entertainment and video gaming.

Led by three Pennsylvania universities known for interactive media and gaming (Harrisburg University of Science & Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, and Drexel University), the consortium will unite various stakeholders around a strategic marketing and recruitment campaign promoting PA to interactive media companies and potential entrepreneurs while enabling the universities to expand education, applied research, and entrepreneurship programs targeting interactive media and gaming.

Consortium universities will lead initiatives that:

  • Provide seed funding to startup companies
  • Bring budding entrepreneurs under the tutelage of successful mentors
  • Co-locate startups in business accelerators where they can thrive
  • Connect students with companies through internships and projects
  • Conduct outreach and events to attract major gaming companies to PA
  • Expand research and training in entrepreneurship, game design, and emerging interactive technologies
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Bucknell University, and Penn State University

Inc. U: Accelerating New Company Formations by Supporting Undergraduate Entrepreneurship in Rural University Ecosystems

This initiative will focus on three objectives:

  1. Coordinating and combining academic experiences and courses with activities focused on supporting undergraduate students who have an interest in entrepreneurship as a career path.
  2. Supporting undergraduate entrepreneurs through enhanced rural innovation ecosystems, and
  3. Providing focused capital through a new rural Student Shark Tank competition.

Over eighteen months (three academic terms), University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Penn State University, and Bucknell University will host a Best Practices & Student Entrepreneur Showcase and participate in a Shark Tank pitch fest, in addition to providing services (shark food) needed in the process of starting a new business, e.g. legal advice, business planning, market research, etc. The proposal is expected to result in a sustainable program that will expose 1,500 students to entrepreneurship as a career path and 140 student-participants educated with an Inc. U business start-up course, 30 new businesses and 15 technologies created by young entrepreneurs, and the creation of coordinated undergraduate activities, courses, real-world experiences, services, and capital, aligning fragmented efforts to focus on undergraduate entrepreneurs.

York College of Pennsylvania

The goal of this project is to expand and enhance the ability of York College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship to deliver on its mission to promote entrepreneurship throughout the region. York College will increase its capacity to serve the region’s entrepreneurial community through a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Make capital improvements to its existing business incubator in order to add a student incubator and a wet-lab space, which will provide students a dedicated space for entrepreneurial activities.
  2. Broaden the resources available to the south central Pennsylvania region by both expanding the college’s existing entrepreneurship conference, as well as create new programs, such as a monthly tech roundtable collaboration with York SCORE and a York College Enterprise Grant program, and/li>
  3. Infuse student-centered programming with funding so that students can take advantage of a robust offering of educational and internship opportunities, including an annual elevator pitch competition and a regional business plan competition.