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Home > Blog > 2012

Archive for 2012

PERC’s Climate Change & Sustainable Energy Conference

Posted December 3rd, 2012 by admin

A Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) Climate Change & Sustainable Energy working team, in response to input from a number of PERC campuses,  has developed an agenda for this year’s Annual Meeting sure to provide usable information for those Member and Affiliate Schools working on making progress on the climate change and sustainable energy. The Conference Packet is available for downloading here.

The annual meeting was held on the Susquehanna University Campus.  This consortium of about 70 Pennsylvania schools is an active group of faculty and staff who network together to promote sustainability efforts on our campuses.  It is a grass roots, bottom-up effort. Their aim is to foster awareness through education and hands-on experiences as they work to involve students and administrations in sustainability programs.

Three panel discussions highlighted the event along with industry contributors.  The focus was to assess measuring progress in sustainability efforts.  This first panel described how Green-house-gas emissions are measured at various schools.   The second discussed and compared results from recent measurements. The third focused upon how progress on campuses is communicated internally and externally.

Not all of the Pennsylvania schools are working at the same level of commitment.  5 out of the 70 schools are doing well and meeting their goals.  While working toward sustainability is voluntary, the positive result of the sustainability progress has huge impacts on energy costs and student enrichment.

A week-long conference called EnergyPath 2013 is planned.  PERC has 35 scholarships to provide to individuals and groups.  There are hands on focus sessions for Hydroelectric, Solar PV, Wind, Efficiency and sustainability. The value of these scholarships offset the membership fees.  Check out the PERC web page for more information.

New Crew on Board

Posted August 23rd, 2012 by admin

We’ve got a new pair of team members on board to help make the connections between faculty, students and the business community looking to commercialize. Finding the right talent to be able to understand the variety of technologies and services that faculty and students are developing - especially across multiple institutions - can be pretty daunting. In our six years of experience, this role is particularly tough because of the need for a varied technical background and at the same time, an engaging personality - plus a strong dose of attention to project management. We’re fortunate to have found a good match with Ralph Moyer, our new faculty liaison in South Central Pa. Ralph, or as you’ll learn when you meet him, “Spike,” brings a project management skill set from his days at Bell Labs to the task. His work as a liaison between high tech companies looking for specific technology from the lab translates directly to his daily work at ITN. Our other addition to the team is Mike Zigner. Mike will be focused mainly in the Berks County and surrounding areas as he leverages his many contacts in business and academia from his days in Continuing Education at Penn State Berks. His role will combine both faculty relations and business connections in Berks which is a great match for Mike’s background. Their official bios will be up shortly along with an embarrassing grade school picture when we find it. If you need to reach any of us, you can always email the team at

“Does Your Start-Up Idea Pass the Bar Exam?”

Posted May 2nd, 2012 by admin

One tweet from a “VC and Dad” in California, (thanks @bryce) and 11 days later we were featuring the video of the Instagram founders’ “Start-up Myths” at the Weiss Center for the Arts, at Dickinson College. Student leaders from the campus-based Idea Fund, as well as faculty from Dickinson, Harrisburg U and Shippensburg helped @itnwk and the @BFTechCelerator turn this impulsive thought into a different kind of education, and an evening of networking with students.

The theme for the evening was, “Does Your Start-Up Idea Pass the Bar Exam?” (If you don’t get it, watch the video.) It was an inexpensive, simple way to team up with students and share real insights into starting up a company. The fact that Facebook just announced the acquisition of Instagram for a billion dollars painted an inspiring picture.  Students, who as part of the Idea Fund, are reviewing, creating, and pitching ideas to be considered for funding, had a glimpse of what could be. We added to the sizzle of movie night by raiding the popcorn isles at the supermarket and creating custom-made containers with the question, “Are Start-Up Ideas Popping into Your Head?”

Working with academia and in economic development, we forget that spontaneous thought and an injection of fun can prove to be more rewarding - and memorable - than any long, drawn-out planning activity. Not every event lends itself to an 11 day strike period, but it’s good to be reminded that sometimes the spur-of-the-moment ideas are the best ones.

Faculty Entrepreneurs Share Ingredients for Business Success

Posted January 12th, 2012 by admin

A strong dose of reality was just around the corner for the room full of faculty at the Entrepreneurs Festival at New York University (NYU).  The session was geared toward academics waiting to hear the truth about what it takes to become a successful “faculty entrepreneur,” one bent on combining research and business. The foursome at the front of the room had been on the start-up treadmill for some time and were asked to share the hardest elements of the process, which included fundraising, and their advice for the optimistic crew before them. (The session title of “Having It All” probably helped set some high expectations in the group.)

Below are highlights of the faculty feedback, all valid points for professors looking to take the plunge and move ahead in the unpredictable waters of business and commercialization.

What is the hardest thing about becoming a faculty entrepreneur?

1. When I took my idea to industry, they were “interested” but not “excited.” I had to form the start-up on my own to prove my concept. (A physicist)

2. Convincing people to give you money. You think everyone shares your passion but they don’t. You have to “dumb down” the story so others understand. It is *hard* to publish and raise venture capital. (In the medical field.)

3. Closing my investment took a long time and I found engineers hard to work with in big research firms.

What’s your advice for faculty looking to start a company and remain in a university/college setting?

1. Figure out how you are going to make money. This is not an academic goal, but it is a business goal. It’s a big shift!

2. Learn how to communicate with investors. You have to be able to take the science and turn it into business. Practice! Network with investors.

3. Get ready to ride the roller coaster it’s up and down all the time.

4. Make sure you are doing something real, solving a problem. Stay focused on the company goal, not on engineering how the product works.

5. Faculty are accustomed to criticism in an academic research environment, however, when your business is criticized it’s a lot harder and you are more inclined to take it personally.

6. Find a real problem to solve, get feedback and understand the impact of your work.

At the end of the session, one entrepreneur shared the need for a “melting pot” a place where people, ideas and connections can come together. Here at ITN we are one ingredient of the melting pot, a place for faculty and business to collaborate and create their secret sauce. There are several other key ingredients we work with (Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Venture Investment Forum, Innovation Cafe, and the TechCelerator), all of whom are willing to stir the pot and get innovation cooking in this region. Join us!