Personal Small Business Corporate & Institutional About Us
Mary Elizabeth McCulloch was a Penn State biomedical engineering student with a dream. She wanted to help people with nonverbal cerebral palsy and related disabilities communicate, using a low-cost speech-generating device called Voz Box.
Now she’s the owner of Project Vive, a startup made possible by Happy Valley LaunchBox, Powered by PNC Bank.
“I came up with the idea when I was an exchange student in Ecuador and volunteered at orphanages for special needs kids,” McCulloch said. “I noticed kids who, even though they were cognitively sound, weren’t able to speak or express their thoughts or ideas, and their caregivers would have to guess what they were saying through yes or no questions.”
I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless, but I lacked the money, experience and materials to pursue it.
But the people and resources at the LaunchBox helped her turn her idea into reality. Project Vive is one of 31 startups that have graduated through the Happy Valley LaunchBox innovation hub since it opened in downtown State College, Pa., nearly two years ago.
And, with help from a $1 million sponsorship from PNC there will be many more opportunities for others, like McCulloch, to bring their ideas to life.
“We’re very excited to help take Happy Valley LaunchBox to the next level,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president of Central Pennsylvania. “We are so proud and happy to partner with this initiative that’s going to help State College, Centre County and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Frankly, it should help the world.”
The LaunchBox is part of a larger initiative called Invent Penn State, which helps entrepreneurs transform their great ideas into sustainable products and businesses. It includes 17 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania, where entrepreneurs can take advantage of no-cost working space, business and legal advice, and accelerator programs to help them test ideas and go to market faster.
Penn State will match PNC’s $1 million sponsorship dollar for dollar. The funding will help the innovation hub operate each year which, in turn, will drive economic development across the commonwealth.
In addition to funding, PNC also will offer its industry expertise as company representatives participate in the hub’s speaker series, mentorship program and more. The year-round calendar of activities will include senior executives through front-line employees like local branch managers, business bankers and relationship managers. PNC’s help will be just a call away, where a nearby employee can drop by to help answer an entrepreneur’s banking questions.
“PNC’s relationship with Penn State – both business and philanthropic – has spanned decades,” said Eric Barron, Penn State president.
Nearly 600 Penn State alumni work at PNC, and PNC’s philanthropy has been part of some of the most important initiatives in our history. What’s more, they’ve often stepped forward in the early stages of a project, when Penn State most needed a partner who believed in our vision.
For people like Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, the impact is already tangible.
“The next step for Project Vive is to take what we have learned from our Voz Box users and release a beta product in the U.S. and Ecuador this year,” she said. “I am deeply grateful to Invent Penn State for making these resources available – and to PNC for investing in the innovation hub model.”
More than 30 entrepreneurial teams have graduated through the Happy Valley LaunchBox accelerator program since its opening in March 2016.
PNC Point of View
Real People. Real Perspective. Real Insights.
Read more POV Stories »
These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.
This site may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.
Read a summary of privacy rights for California residents which outlines the types of information we collect, and how and why we use that information.
We have tools to help you bank when and where you want.Mobile Apps Directory »
Be part of our inclusive culture that strives for excellence and rewards talent.Visit PNC Careers »
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.