If you draw a circle around the biggest centers of population and innovation in the East Coast  – Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh – and point to the center of the circle, you will find State College. This year, as the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference returns for another banner year, it positions the Centre Region to be not only a geographical center, but also a central hub of innovation. 

“The conference serves as a connector and convener,” says Dr. James Delattre, Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization at Penn State and Venture & IP Conference executive committee member. The conference connects entrepreneurs from the Centre Region with investors from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and entrepreneurs from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with investors from the other cities. “We are serving as a crossroads between the capital markets all along the coast and even the Great Lakes Region. We are also connecting startups with Penn State's alumni network who are eager to help other alumni succeed. Over half of the people in attendance are Penn State alumni.” 

Here's what you need to know about this year's event. 

What it is: 

The Invent Penn State Venture & IP (VIP) Conference is one of the largest tech startup conferences in the Mid-Atlantic, drawing over 600 attendees including 70+ start-up ventures and 40+ investment firms from across the country. The conference highlights innovations from high growth and emerging markets including IT, Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Biotechnology, Healthcare, Fintech, Edtech, B2B and B2C, among others. 

What's new: 

The conference will add keynotes Bruce Booth, Partner in Atlas Ventures, and Anna Mason, partner in Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. The conference has grown each year with a larger number of startup companies hailing from the Midwest and New England. This year, the conference will host its Thursday night reception in downtown State College with a welcome by the CBICC, DID, the Borough of State College and Penn State Government and Community Relations in the MLK Plaza on Frazier St. Keep your eye out for more news about programming closer to the time. 

What's returning: 

Each year, the conference features Venture Connection, curated personal meetings between investors and startups who have been paired based on industry, capital needs and other key criteria. They hosted over 1,000 meetings over two days. It met with very positive feedback, Delattre says. “These fast-paced, face-to-face meetings are a very efficient way to make connections,” he says. “Not only are deals being made, but relationships and networks are being built at the same time. Applicants selected for the Venture Connection are matched with investors using a unique pairing algorithm. That means Venture Connection meetings have a greatly increased chance of resulting in investment capital for your company.

Why you don't want to miss this: 

Simply put, it's about the connections – the incredible convergence of ideas, people and Penn State. For example, when it was announced that RJ Lee was opening a location at Innovation Park, they specifically noted that the VIP Conference played a role in choosing State College as their base. At the conference, they met representatives from Morgan Advanced Materials, and learned more about the benefits of relocating to the area. At the VIP Conference, people build relationships that have measurable economic benefits. “It's a fantastic way for Penn State innovators in our 24 campus locations to meet with each other and connect to a larger network, says Delattre. “There are so many unexpected connections because of the scale of our network and how amazing Penn State alumni are. It's also rewarding to be able to bring so many thought leaders to University Park campus to see first-hand that the Centre Region is a prime location for growing innovative businesses.” 

For more information, visit https://pennstatevip.com.