New partnership boosts university’s CollegeTowne initiatives
Alvernia University and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) have collaborated to provide incubator support and potential funding to support innovative projects developed by local entrepreneurs and industry partners across the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship has joined BFTP/NEP’s Ben Franklin Business Incubator Network. With thirteen members, this network is one of the largest in the country. Through this new partnership, Ben Franklin will explore investment opportunities in defined projects with a network of innovative expert resources for local businesses through O’Pake’s Business Incubator and Alvernia faculty and students.
“Reading CollegeTowne’s economic development strategy goes beyond training entrepreneurs and launching new businesses,” said Alvernia’s president. John R Loyack. “Our relationship is focused on improving local businesses through creative project-based problem solving. Ben Franklin’s support and resources, combined with Alvernia’s outstanding faculty and student experts, create the perfect recipe for local business expansion and innovation.
Alvernia’s innovation projects generally require a considerable investment of time and human capital, resources that companies value the most and of which they are generally scarce. However, the university has an abundance of human resources through hard-working students, faculty, and staff, as well as time, through defined experiential learning opportunities.
“Universities are good at solving problems that aren’t urgent but require out-of-the-box thinking,” said O’Pake Institute vice president, associate vice president and chief operating officer, Dr Rodney Ridley. “This partnership allows us to approach local companies to develop defined projects which provide an educational component to students and provide an answer to the problem of a company. Ultimately, what’s a win-win for business and a university is a completed project that would never have happened without the project partnership. This paves the way for a long-term relationship.
Establishing a business incubator in 1984, Ben Franklin is one of the pioneers of business incubation in the country. BFTP/NEP owns and operates both Ben Franklin TechVentures® and the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center. Ben Franklin TechVentures has twice received the Incubator of the Year award from the International Business Innovation Association. Business incubation provides a place, setting, and culture that are essential parts of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem.
“Collaborating with Alvernia and the O’Pake Institute will provide Greater Reading technology start-ups and established manufacturers with access to resources to support them in all aspects of their business,” said Connie Faylor, Regional Director BFTP/NEP, Greater Reading/Berks/Schuylkill. “The student-led business incubator will benefit from Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ 37 years of experience, award-winning business incubation performance, and the synergies of our resource networks. We look forward to leveraging our financial investments in Greater Reading businesses with the crucial support provided by a regional business incubator.
Through a new student scholarship program, O’Pake is serving as a catalyst for the expansion of education and business in downtown Reading. In addition to the partnership with BFTP/NEP, O’Pake recently announced partnerships with SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter, Lehigh Valley Angel Investors and Kutztown University Small Business Development Center as well as the first corporate sponsors of the institute, Pepsi® and Customer bank.
In December, Alvernia unveiled Reading CollegeTowne, a strategic model for downtown economic development. Alvernia property assumed of his newly acquired building at 401 Penn Street on June 30. The downtown location is also where the new O’Pake offers will operate.