Penn State Berks students receive Student Enterprise Award for startups

Students participate in Customer Discovery Lab pre-pandemic.
Credit: Penn State

The Student Enterprise Award Contest is the Penn State Berks Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development (CEED) Center’s version of "Shark Tank." During the contest, students presented their ideas for a business startup, followed by a question-and-answer session with the committee. The winning teams receive up to $3,000 for their business startup.

“The purpose of this award shall be to provide seed money to support an enterprising and innovative student at Penn State Berks. Our primary objective with this competition is to allow students to utilize their Penn State Berks education to become entrepreneurs and start businesses which can create jobs in our local community,” explained Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems, director of the Flemming CEED Center, and program chair of the entrepreneurship and innovation (ENTI) minor.

Gordon Guoyin Shaw, a junior cybersecurity analytics and operations major, was one of the award recipients for the app he designed to help alert users of recall information. Shaw explained “The safety of consumer products is always one of the focuses of social concern, especially for the food and drugs closely related to our daily lives. However, it's challenging for ordinary households to know the recall information timely and accurately. The app will have functions for inputting product information, scanning the receipt, searching, and alerting customers.”

Shaw goes on to state that he was encouraged by his faculty mentor, Abdullah Konak. “I started to turn my idea into a real product and decided to compete in the STEM Business Idea Challenge as my first step. During the competition, I acquired a great deal of help from the professors of the Flemming CEED Center. I also applied for the Student Enterprise Award, and during the final pitch, the competition committee gave me constructive advice through the question-and-answer session. By joining this competition, I have a deeper comprehension of my idea and strong confidence to commercialize my product.”

A team of four senior mechanical engineering students also received the award for the product they are developing: a microfluidic bandage that is used to heal wounds such as third-degree lesions. Gregory Ammon, Maxime Boudeau, Elias Brower and Ryan Marsden stated, “We are excited and grateful to receive the Penn State Berks Student Enterprise Award. We anticipate that this award will help further our knowledge and development of the product. We would like to thank Rungun Nathan, professor of engineering and program chair for mechanical engineering, for helping guide us to our current success. We hope this award can open opportunities in our future endeavors.”

John Weber, associate teaching professor in business, is the Student Enterprise Award competition coordinator. He explains that students chosen for a Student Enterprise Award will receive funding in two installments: The first installment will be disbursed shortly after being granted. To receive the second installment, winners must either provide proof of monetary expenditures related to their project at least equal to the first installment amount or participate in the Customer Discovery Lab workshops, which help early-stage entrepreneurs validate the utility and viability of their project.

About the Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center

The Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) Center was established in the fall of 2011 as part of Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. Its mission is to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking in the Penn State Berks community and to foster economic growth and development in the Greater Reading area through technology-based solutions, human capital development, and enterprise creation.

The Flemming CEED Center provides student entrepreneurs with an incubator in which to develop their startup ideas. The center provides mentoring from faculty, as well as volunteers from the local business community. Its programs include creativity training workshops, 3D printing workshops, a speaker series, the Customer Discovery Lab, the STEM Business Idea Challenge, and the Student Enterprise Award.