Bucknell student business consultants meet with a startup client at the Startup Lewisburg incubator.
FOR SEVEN YEARS, the Small Business Development Center at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, has focused on helping local entrepreneurs through Startup Lewisburg, an incubator that offers consulting services, broadband internet access, and networking opportunities. In March, the school opened a second incubator in the nearby city of Danville and found that its services were in high demand as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country.
The Danville incubator has partnered with the economic development entity DRIVE (Driving Real Innovation for a Vibrant Economy) and operates from DRIVE’s office building. Startup Danville received initial funding from the Neighbor of Choice program operated by the pharmaceutical giant Merck. It will begin scaling up operations as a result of a new 99,500 USD Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Located less than a mile from the headquarters of Geisinger, a regional healthcare system, Startup Danville is focusing on healthcare and technology innovations. The pandemic has underscored how critical it is for researchers to develop new inventions in the healthcare field, says Bucknell SBDC director Steve Stumbris. “Throughout this project, SBDC educational programming, advisory services, and expanded office space will be targeted to entrepreneurs who are working to foster innovations in health services delivery and sustain the health of the community.”
Three Bucknell business students have begun providing consulting assistance to Startup Danville entrepreneurs. “My number one goal is to give our students the most educational experience possible, an experience beyond the textbook,” says Denny Hummer, Bucknell SBDC assistant director, business incubation. “In return, our entrepreneurs get amazing research assistance and useful tools from our student consultants that don’t cost them anything out of their pockets.”
Hummer notes that Merck also plans to provide access to intellectual talent by involving local staff in the startup. The school’s objective is to combine community and university participating to make Startup Danville an economic development engine for the entire region.