$1 Million Grant Partners the Regional Universities in Erie Business Innovation Development
Posted: October 17, 2017
Gannon University announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17 it has received
a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic
Development Administration (EDA) to further advance the Innovation
Beehive Network as the collaboration framework among Erie's
This grant will accelerate and enhance business consulting
services provided by Gannon to startups, and boost development of
Erie's emergent Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network,
which includes Gannon University, Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst
University and Edinboro University.
The universities have been collaborating on a broad variety of
projects since the inception of the Innovation Beehive Network. The
network was conceived and launched by an initial Ignite Erie grant
with Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, serving as the driver of
the network's early accomplishments. This new $1 million EDA grant
will allow the universities to take these initial successes to the
next level. Each university will bring a particular asset and
expertise to bear on maximizing business growth and improving the
economic health of our region.
Gannon University's association with the Erie Technology
Incubator (ETI) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC),
located in the Center for Business Ingenuity (CBI), combines
efforts to provide a wide range of business consulting resources to
accelerate business ideas moving from concept to market. Penn State
Behrend's Innovation Commons, where the first Beehive was
established, will expand its services as a regional asset and
resource for product development. A new node at Edinboro University
of Pennsylvania will provide advertising, marketing and public
relations strategies for business startups, and Mercyhurst
University will support business intelligence through its emerging
Gannon University is proud to support the work of our regional
university partners and is excited to enhance its activity in the
Innovation Beehive Network. This is an ideal and efficient
environment for the creation of a pipeline to help populate the
area with high-potential startups and supply them with the
intellectual resources they need to grow and flourish.
"As Erie's urban university, Gannon University is passionately
dedicated to the economic health, growth and vitality of Erie's
downtown," said Steven Mauro, Ph.D., vice president of academic
administration. "This grant will accelerate our longstanding and
successful efforts in new, small business development by allowing
us to more effectively utilize the assets we have created at CBI to
transform the community. At the same time, the activities at the
node provide a platform for meaningful hands-on education for our
students and those across the region."
This federally awarded grant is part of relief efforts meant to
stimulate the economy and generate jobs for areas impacted by the
declining coal industry. The Erie geographic area qualified due to
the extensive support services it lends to that industry. This
award allows the partner universities to focus on rapid small
business development to achieve that goal.
"Small businesses are the engines that drive job growth,
commerce and economy in a city our size," said Mauro. "Erie is
uniquely positioned to be able to be fast and nimble enough to
coordinate such development. The newly created Innovation Beehive
Network is a completely novel approach not implemented anywhere
else in the nation, but is able to occur here to achieve that
In just 10 short months, the collaborative efforts of the
universities has been successful in securing over $3 million
dollars in funds and matching commitments to support the Innovation
Beehive Network. This includes funds awarded to Penn State Behrend
from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) and the
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and support from the Dr.
& Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, also awarded
to Gannon University.
Gannon University has a longstanding history of dedication to
and providing services for the development of new businesses in
Erie. Gannon founded ETI nearly a decade ago to focus on business
development by providing a wide-range of services and programming
for entrepreneurs and high-tech startups. ETI currently houses 16
startups in software, manufacturing automation and medical
technology, and offers a network of more than 70 professional
providers as its mentor team. Since its inception, startups at ETI
have raised more than $36 million in private funding.
Gannon also hosts the SBDC, a state and federally-funded program
that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs plan and execute
successful new businesses. SBDC provides consulting services at no
charge and a variety of low cost workshops to entrepreneurs and
existing businesses in Erie, Crawford, Warren and Mercer counties.
Since January 2017, the SBDC has been essential in creating 56
jobs, assisting with raising over $21 million in capital
assistance, and serving 343 clients.
At the University's College of Engineering and Business,
students participate in joint projects with the startups and
entrepreneurs. Some students, who are also business owners, also
lease space at ETI and seek services at the SBDC, thus transmitting
entrepreneurial ideas and methods into a one-of-a-kind learning
environment for the next generation of business innovators.
"What makes the Innovation Beehive Network different from existing
efforts at Gannon or elsewhere is the coordination that is
occurring between local universities. Our combined forces create a
comprehensive business assistance infrastructure that is nationally
recognizable," said Mauro. "This federally awarded grant is a
testament to that."