Langan LaunchBox debut announces initiatives to boost local economy

student looking at computer

Reading Eagle: Bill Uhrich | Joseph Sinclair of Shillington, an adjunct faculty member at Penn State Berks and owner of Solid Dynamics L.L.C., talks about 3-D printing while sophomore Brianna Kondos operates one of the printers during the opening of the Langan LaunchBox.

Credit: Penn State

READING, Pa. -- Community members and county officials joined Penn State Berks faculty, staff, and students, as well as Penn State Health St. Joseph physicians and administrators, for the inaugural event announcing the Langan LaunchBox on Oct. 25. Attendees visited the new center, located within Penn State Health St. Joseph’s downtown campus, and learned about the initiatives that will be funded by the $50,000 seed grant awarded to Penn State Berks, in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph, as part of Invent Penn State.

Pamela J. Shupp, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, praised the Langan LaunchBox initiative, stating that entrepreneurs will create most of the jobs of the future. "We don't want to be the forgotten city," she said. "We want to be the city that is reinventing itself. Thank you for allowing us to build jobs."

The Langan LaunchBox will provide several opportunities for students and entrepreneurs in Reading. First, it will serve as an extension of the college’s Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center, providing a designated meeting space for entrepreneurs from the college and the local community.

The Additive Manufacturing Lab, another area within the Langan LaunchBox, is a maker space where students can work with 3-D printers to bring their ideas to life.

Joseph Sinclair, alumnus of Penn State Berks and an entrpreneur-in-residence at the college, attended the event and demonstrated the printers created by his company, Solid Dynamics LLC. Sinclair became interested in 3-D printing while a student at Penn State Berks. He went on to start Solid Dynamics LLC to create prototypes for manufacturing. He is also an adjunct professor of the campus, teaching additive manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Greg Flemming was at the event, demonstrating the drone technology that Onuku Industries creates. Onuku was founded by alumnus and Entrpreneur-in-Residence Kyle Moyer, along with two of his fellow students. Flemming, a retired IBM executive, has joined the company, lending his expertise in business to the start-up.

The LaunchBox will also house a new initiative called “Be Bold, Take Charge,” in which Penn State Berks faculty and students, as well as Penn State Health St. Joseph’s physicians and staff, will support community-based health and initiatives in Reading. This initiative is headed by James Shankweiler, senior lecturer in business at Penn State Berks, and Dr. Kim Wolf at Penn State Health St. Joseph.

In addition, the LaunchBox will include areas for other initiatives, including the college’s Human Movement Research Center, an interdisciplinary enterprise which will focus on assessing wellness in the community and understanding the connection between the mind and body.

“We are excited by the support from the Invent Penn State program and welcome the opportunity to work with our partner, Penn State Health St. Joseph, to build upon and expand the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem with a focus on business and economic development, as well as social entrepreneurship projects in the City of Reading,” states R. Keith Hillkirk, chancellor of Penn State Berks.

"This partnership will open up wonderful opportunities for our school and our community," Hillkirk said to more than 60 guests during a program to introduce the initiative. "We will do things together that we could not do alone."

John R. Morahan, president and CEO of Penn State Health St. Joseph, said the hospital is interested in the physical and economic health of Reading and its residents.

"We are forging ahead to offer education, research and community outreach to spur entrepreneurial development to improve the lives of the members of our community," he stated.

Berks competed with other University locations for one of six seed grants from the Invent Penn State initiative. The criteria included an existing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, potential for success and partnership and support within the community and region. This spring, the college was awarded a $50,000 seed grant to jump start entrepreneurial activities across the Commonwealth.