READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks will be expanding its entrepreneurship programming with a new innovation hub located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Berks LaunchBox is slated to open in January 2019.
The Berks LaunchBox will be open to members of the Greater Reading community of all ages. It will offer a maker space with 3D printers for prototyping, entrepreneurship workshops, co-working space for startups, an Idea Test Lab accelerator program, Meetups focused on topics related to business development and technology, and special youth programs. The new innovation hub will be featured during monthly GoggleWorks “Spotlight Nights” in order to share information on programs and resources with the community.
“My colleagues and I at Penn State Berks are delighted to enter into this partnership with the GoggleWorks as it will provide mutually beneficial opportunities for enhancing entrepreneurship education, support for start-ups, innovation, and engagement in economic development across multiple constituencies in our community,” stated Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk.
“There are a myriad of opportunities for practices and concepts of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics,” commented Levi Landis, president and executive director of GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. “This relationship exemplifies these innovative opportunities and provides a rich model for partnership: A hub for incubating businesses and educating their leaders as well as a space to encourage creativity, design techniques, and new processes for artists.”
The Berks LaunchBox is supported by Invent Penn State–a $30 million commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation, and student success launched by Penn State President Eric J. Barron in 2016. Invent Penn State provided seed funding for innovation hubs at the campuses. Penn State Berks, in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph, received two seed grants.
The college began working on initiatives with Penn State Health St. Joseph when the health network joined Penn State Health in 2015. The partnership deepened as a result of Invent Penn State and the first innovation hub was created within Penn State Health St. Joseph’s downtown Reading campus. This initiative will continue to focus on social enterprise, including health and wellness initiatives such as the Veggie Rx program and health care innovations.
The Veggie Rx program was established to address health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Through the program, Penn State Health St. Joseph physicians “prescribe” vouchers for fresh produce that can be redeemed at various locations, including a pop-up farmers market within Penn State Health St. Joseph’s downtown Reading campus. The pilot program is funded by the United Way of Berks County and serves clients of the health network as well as the general public.
Both organizations will also continue to work together to create medical innovations. Penn State Berks faculty and students are collaborating with the medical staff at Penn State Health St. Joseph to develop solutions to meet the needs of individuals with physical challenges. Several student groups are working to develop new products, ranging from a more comfortable arm sling, to retractable oxygen tubing to make the use of home oxygen tanks safer, to an anti-tipping mechanism for wheelchairs, to a special shoe to help children with neurological issues.
For more information, visit https://sites.psu.edu/launchbox.
About GoggleWorks Center for the Arts
GoggleWorks, located in the former Willson Goggle Factory Building, is one of the largest art centers of its kind in the country. The city-block sized complex features seven large teaching studios in ceramics, hot and warm glass, metalsmithing, photography, printmaking, and woodworking; 39 juried artist studios; galleries; Belly Kitchen and Drinkery, and the Boscov Film Theatre. GoggleWorks supports aspiring, emerging, and established artists through year round arts education and offers a robust schedule of exhibitions, community programs, and special events. In 2018, GoggleWorks launched a college advisory committee in an effort to partner more meaningfully with local higher education institutions, including Penn State Berks. GoggleWorks is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; admission and parking are always free. Plan your visit at goggleworks.org.