As promised in April, Penn State Harrisburg has hired “an alumni and serial entrepreneur” to run its new entrepreneurship center.
The school announced Thursday that Kevin Harter, former chairman, president and CEO of Bethlehem-based Saladax Biomedical Inc., will lead the center as the college’s first professor of practice, a title often used in academia for nontenured faculty who have made a major impact in their field. Harter will serve jointly in the School of Business Administration and the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology, the school said in a news release.
Although Penn State Harrisburg hasn’t formally announced the nascent center’s name, school officials referred to it last spring as the Center for the Next Step. The center, part of Penn State President Eric Barron’s INVENT Penn State initiative, will be on the school’s Lower Swatara Township campus, they said. Penn State Harrisburg received $50,000 in seed funding from the university to create the center, which will provide entrepreneurship resources for faculty, students and the community, and stimulate new business and economic development.
Harter, of Camp Hill, holds a bachelor’s degree in information systems and an MBA from Penn State Harrisburg. With more than 30 years of experience in new business development, Harter served at Saladax, a leader in personalized medicine and diagnostics, since 2007, the school said.
An emeritus member and past chairman of the Penn State Harrisburg Board of Advisers, Harter was named a PSU Alumni Fellow in 2010. He is also an active member on several Penn State Harrisburg program advisory boards. In 2014, he received the Ben Franklin of NorthEast PA Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.
Harter also co-founded Keystone Medical Systems, previously the largest independent supplier of information technology and electronic medical record solutions to physicians.
Barron told the Central Penn Business Journal in April that the objective of the $30 million INVENT Penn State program is to “promote opportunities for partnerships and startups, and for campuses to participate in attracting jobs to local economies.” Other goals are promoting patents, licensing and startups through the center and advancing career readiness through the university’s Career Center, he said.
Penn State Harrisburg was one of just six PSU campuses to receive startup funding for entrepreneurship centers so far.
Vice President for Research Neil A. Sharkey, who is leading the initiative, also said in April that the centers will serve as “early incubators,” where experienced businesspeople will work side by side with students to offer practical advice and help them realize their projects. He said the business community should expect advancements in health care, chemical engineering, chemistry, agriculture, biomedical, material science, electronics and educational technology to come out of the centers.
School officials also said Penn State Harrisburg will likely partner on the project with Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC.