Venture & IP Conference to showcase Penn State’s research innovations


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — The Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference, one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic, will take place April 28-29 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. The conference will highlight innovations from high-growth and emerging markets, showcase disruptive technologies and early-stage companies born from Penn State research, and feature two special keynote events.

General registration for the conference is currently open and will close on April 27.

“Our Venture & IP conference is a tremendous showcase of the latest innovations, research and startups coming out of Penn State that are positively impacting the world,” said James Delattre, Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and marketing. “The conference is widely known for its interdisciplinary panels and keynote speakers. This year, we are excited to present two keynote sessions that will detail national market trends and feature Penn State alumni who have founded startups that have reached $1 billion in valuation.

The first opening session, featuring Doug Farren, Managing Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, will cover the macroeconomic outlook of current market conditions and trends in the United States economy. During a breakfast from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. on April 29, Farren will provide a data-rich overview of economic trends impacting small and medium-sized businesses.

The Penn State Unicorn Panel, comprised of alumni whose venture capital-backed startups have passed the $1 billion valuation threshold, will be the second main session of the conference, which will take place April 29 from 1:30 p.m. 2:20 p.m. Moderated by Ryan Newman, CEO of Goldman Sachs, the panel will include Ash Ashutosh, founder of Actifio (acquired by Google), and Mo Bhende, co-founder and CEO of Karat. Actifio is an enterprise cloud data management system, and Karat transforms the interview process by conducting highly predictive technical interviews for clients.

Newman, co-chair of the conference, is a graduate of Smeal College of Business and an alumnus of Schreyer Scholar. He also hosts the Invent Penn State Dare to Disrupt podcast which features former Penn State innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders and the stories behind their success. Ashutosh graduated from Penn State with a master’s degree in computer science and Bhende graduated from Penn State with degrees in math and economics.

“I am honored to serve as Co-Chair of the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference and thrilled to be hosting the main event for the Penn State Unicorn Panel,” said Newman. “Penn State alumni develop innovations, startups, and technologies that disrupt entire industries. Ash and Mo have founded startups that have revolutionized the data management and tech interview landscapes, respectfully en route to having their businesses valued at over $1 billion.

Below are more highlights from this year’s Venture & IP conference:

Showcase of student startups

Thursday, April 28, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Venture & IP conference will begin with the presentation of student startups. Hosted by President Eric Barron and Senior Vice President for Research Lora Weiss, the Student Startup Showcase is a forum for the University’s best and brightest student entrepreneurs to share with venture capitalists and d other entrepreneurs how their discoveries are having a positive impact on the world. This year’s student startups consist of finalists from the Inc.U competition, in addition to others.

Technical Tournament

Thursday April 28, 3-5 p.m.

The tech tournament features disruptive technologies and start-ups born out of Penn State’s robust and diverse research enterprise. This year, seven teams will compete for a grand total of $160,000 in innovation prizes, including a top prize of $75,000, which will be used to help teams bring their innovations to market.

Interdisciplinary panels

The conference includes interdisciplinary panels and sessions that bring together experts from academia, industry, economic development and policy on current innovation topics. Here are this year’s sessions:

  • Removing Barriers to Capital: New and Innovative Models to Create More Equitable Access to Capital for Underrepresented EntrepreneursApril 28, 12:45-1:45 p.m. – This session will highlight an innovative pilot fund designed to increase access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs across America and how fund managers are leveraging this new approach to jump-start their funds .
  • Small Market, Big Opportunity: Wilkes-Barre’s Early Tech SceneApril 28, 2-3pm – This session will detail the importance and direction of growing more companies in small markets like Wilkes-Barre.
  • IP 101: What every startup needs to know about IP protectionApril 29, 9-10 a.m. – This panel will discuss the different types of intellectual property protection, common intellectual property issues startups face, and best practices for managing those risks.
  • Seeding From 0 to $250 Million in 6 Years: How Tuft & Needle Disrupted and Catalyzed Change in the Mattress IndustryApril 29, 10-11 a.m. – This fireside chat led by Scott Woods of West Arete and JT Marino, Founder of Tuft & Needle, will detail how Marino launched his business to become the largest online mattress retailer in the world.
  • Prepare for the exit as soon as you enterApril 29, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – This panel of successful investors, financial advisors and founders will focus on sharing best practices, advice and experiences in preparing for outside investments or exit transactions.

Business Login

Venture Connection is a matchmaking event comprised of more than 800 meetings between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, who are pre-matched based on industry and capital needs, among other key criteria. Venture Connection will take place on both days of the Venture & IP conference.

About Venture & IP Conference

Founded in 2016, the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference is one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic and attracts more than 600 attendees, including more than 70 startups and more than 40 investment firms from all the countries. The conference highlights innovations from high-growth and emerging markets, including IT, energy, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, healthcare, B2B and B2C, among others.

To see more startups affiliated with Penn State, visit the Startup Browser. To find Penn State-affiliated intellectual property available for licensing, visit the IP Browser.


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