Innovation Park at Penn State image of office building lobby

What it is: nails it simply: an intrapreneur is someone within a company that takes risks in an effort to solve a given problem. In other words, it's an employee that takes on the mindset of an entrepreneur within a company that they do not own.

What it isn't: Business as usual. Many leaders try to foster entrepreneurship within existing constructs without noting the major differences between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs, for example, have the benefit of creating a work culture from scratch, willingly sign up for initial financial risk and are largely autonomous. Companies that embrace intrapreneurs must embrace a culture of innovation, give as much free reign as possible to innovators and ensure a deep resource base, according to

Why it's in Such Demand: Greg Woodman, Instructor of Engineering Entrepreneurship at Penn State's College of Engineering, points to the emotional intelligence and personal development of students who think differently and are willing to take personal risks to better a company. Rather than buy into a self-serving mindset when looking for a job, they embody service and servant leadership – highly valued traits in a competitive marketplace.

Why it Works in Business: Companies like Airbnb and Uber show that people with innovative spirit and a talent for coming up with new ideas can breathe life (and profit) into the business world with a concept known as 'shared economy.' It's back to Woodman's idea of emotional intelligence and ability to own risk and think inventively to better the company where they work (and in doing so, better themselves). It's an attitude before it is a technical skill – the ability to challenge status quo and craft bold solutions for workplace problems. This kind of entrepreneurial spirit, channeled into a business, is a rare and valuable skill, and forward-thinking companies are more than willing to pay for it.

How Penn State Equips Students: Lion Launch Pad, a business accelerator program, helps student entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) turn innovative product and service concepts into viable startup companies by offering mentoring, work space and micro-grants. The ENTI department (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) offers clusters in topics like Food and Bio-Innovation, New Media, New Ventures, Social Entrepreneurship, Technology-Based Entrepreneurship and Hospitality Management to help students harness digital technology to contribute to existing organizations.

One exercise that is taught in Woodman's Engineering 310 Entrepreneurial Leadership class is a personal business plan. Each student drafts a 'life plan' complete with budgets, vision and mission... even an obituary. It is a catalyst for a transformation in thinking for students, pushing them to recast their current problems as future opportunities.

How Businesses Can Attract (And Foster) Intrapreneurs: Successful intrapreneurs can often be future leaders in a company, begging the question – how can companies cultivate entrepreneurial thinking within their work culture?

“Remember your favorite boss or teacher,” Woodman says. “The reason you still love them is because they saw your potential and helped you get better. Your worst boss was just a bully.”

Become that leader. Find people that see the world as a series of challenges to master – people who want to collaborate and innovate – and mentor them to become even stronger leaders and risk takers. Once you find people who 'get it', hire them! You'll be glad you did. 

Hear It From Our Tenants

  • The greatest benefit of our location in Innovation Park is the cross-pollination that goes on. We can inspire and help each other, and we do. We get together for lunches and offer one another advice.

  • Here at Innovation Park and Penn State people are willing to help with no strings attached. We can find top flight researchers and very experienced people. We are confident we can succeed here.

  • We do conferences here at the Penn Stater, attracting 400-500 business leaders and entrepreneurs from across the country. It’s a huge plus to have that facility in walking distance.


Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Live a Healthy Lifestyle - photo of Innovation Park residents running on path 

Find a Resident

FInd a Resident - photo of resident company Higher Ed Jobs 

New to the Park?

New to the park - people eating ice cream 

Contact Us

Innovation Park at Penn State
101 Technology Center
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-5925
Fax: 814-865-5909