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Home > News > Greater Reading KIZ Receives Grant to Help Facilitate Faculty Business Collaborations

Greater Reading KIZ Receives Grant to Help Facilitate Faculty Business Collaborations

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January 17, 2011, Reading, PA

The Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone (GRKIZ) has been awarded $50,000 to accelerate technology transfer efforts by connecting business and academia. Funding is provided by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development to help start-up companies succeed and equip Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities with the resources to commercialize new technologies.

The GRKIZ is partnering with Innovation Transfer Network (ITN) to identify faculty expertise, promote collaboration and connect with the Reading business community. Faculty, students and administrators at five local institutions of higher education, including Albright College, Alvernia University, Kutztown University, Penn State Berks, and Reading Area Community College will participate in the innovative project. Developing new services and technologies, providing realworld experience for students, and applying faculty expertise to solve business issues are a few of the deliverables planned for the engagement.

GRKIZ Coordinator Jennifer Leinbach states: “When I discovered the good work that ITN was accomplishing with 12 neighboring academic institutions, I knew that we needed to replicate their efforts here in Berks County. By contracting with ITN, we combined the GRKIZ community contacts with ITN's experience leading academic and private sector projects, to maximize our potential. It is working out very well for everyone involved.”

In order to accelerate the collaboration between academia and the private sector, the grant will support a series of industry forums, faculty research forums, and a limited number of seed assistance grants as part of the GRKIZ and ITN partnership.

Jennifer Hammaker, ITN Director of Business Development, attests that “Expanding into the Reading area is an exciting opportunity for us to access the first-class academic expertise available in the additional five colleges and universities. It also creates new channels for entrepreneurial faculty and students to collaborate with companies and help solve some very real company challenges, particularly in the current economic climate.”

Over the last five years, ITN has forged new relationships between faculty and businesses among a dozen small colleges and universities in South Central Pa. The organization has increased opportunities for project collaboration, provided seed assistance grants for commercialization projects, and offered Intellectual Property support and services. These accomplishments have enabled ITN to attract additional federal funding and have raised the visibility of Central PA’s talent and intellectual capital in both statewide and national media outlets.

For more information on the Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone, visit or contact coordinator Jennifer Leinbach at 610.898.7778 or For more information on Innovation Transfer Network, visit or call 717.948.6339.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development designated the GRKIZ for technology-based economic development. This KIZ program creates a "knowledge neighborhood" which partners with academic institutions, economic developers, businesses, capital sources, and community leaders to form a network of support and resources.

As a five-star accredited Chamber, we are the business voice of Greater Reading and a catalyst for a vibrant, growing community. The leader in business assistance, the Chamber serves as the fiscal agent for a grant received from the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority which funds in part the operations of the Greater Reading KIZ.

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Source:  Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry ; Melissa Varone