Techcelerator event offers business boot camp for area entrepreneurs, startups

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA is once again hosting its Techcelerator event, a 10-week long series of sessions meant to give prospective entrepreneurs the tools to start their own business.

The State College- based investment service has offered a form of the Techcelerator program for nine years throughout its 32-county footprint.

As part of the program, participants work with area entrepreneurs, talk to experts in marketing, sales and finance and develop a pitch presentation for a chance at a $10,000 award.

A number of businesses that previously participated in the boot camp have also gone on to receive investments from Ben Franklin.

“The Techcelerator is an outstanding way for Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) to engage in our primary mission, which is to create opportunities for startups in Pennsylvania to access the human and financial capital they need,” said Andy Long, director of business development at BFTP.

Long said that the program highlights the organization’s ability to connect Pennsylvania’s technology startups with the management consulting services and critical business services they need to get off the ground.

“In some cases we’re also able to match funds from founders to help prolong their runway to being ‘bankable’ or attractive to other forms of second stage capital such as angel investment groups or venture capital funds,” he added.

The event will consist of two-hour group and one-hour individual sessions run weekly over the span of ten weeks, all held virtually.

Previous Techcelerators were held in person across BFTP’s service area. Long said the virtual nature of the fall event should allow it to reach more people in more parts of the region and allow for a different experience compared to previous events.

The event is at no cost to participants but applications close on Sept. 6 and space is limited. The event is planned to begin on Sept. 15 and last until Nov. 17.

Gov. Wolf proposes $12.35 million increase to four business development programs

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget for 2020-21 fiscal year will include a $12.35 million increase in state funding for four organizations promoting entrepreneurial growth in Pennsylvania.

The increased is expected to be used to help companies in the state that are showing innovation in their given industries.

“A strong community and entrepreneurial network are crucial for success,” Wolf said in a written statement announcing the proposal. “This holds true for start-ups, as well as established businesses. I’m proposing a strategic statewide innovation investment plan that will help get us on the right track to making Pennsylvania an innovation leader.”

Through the plan, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, a group of four regional programs that invest in tech-based startups and small manufacturers, would receive a $5 million boost in funding.

The Industrial Resource Centers, a network of seven offices across the state that help small- to mid-sized manufacturers keep up with changing trends and technologies, would receive $2.5 million.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) network, also would be given an additional $2.5 million through the plan. The PREP Network consists of small business development centers, local development districts and industrial development organizations that offer expertise to new businesses on how to grow their businesses.

Wolf’s proposal would also give an additional $2.35 million to Invent Penn State, a program that funds collaboration between Penn State’s 24 college campuses and their nearby businesses. The state’s funds are used to offer entrepreneurs access to accelerator programs, working space, mentorship, prototyping and funding.