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Penn State and State College have long topped “Best Of” lists. The university ranks among the top 20 U.S. research schools with over $800 million in annual research expenditures, and is one of only two institutions in the country accorded land grant, sea grant, sun grant and space grant status. Also attractive to the other side of the demographic spectrum, it is lauded by the likes of Forbes, TopRetirement and AARP for its vibrant arts and food scene and energetic community that attracts people who return to the area after a successful career.

That's not quite enough for Matt Rhodes, 1979 Eberly College of Science grad, who relocated back to Allen Street after 25 years on the West Coast.

“I noticed that Happy Valley was a boon for students and people coming back to the area, but after being in Silicon Valley, I was motivated to help make this place somewhere that 30- and 40-somethings can build a successful career. I don't think it’s just a place 'to come back to' – I think it's a place to stay.”

Matt is a senior executive for 1855 Capital, a seed and early stage venture capital fund that identifies, mentors and funds high-quality startups with roots at Penn State.

During his career leading a $1B+ semiconductor business, he observed how schools like Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford fostered innovation, and realized that there was a gap at Penn State. He was already involved with solutions, serving on the Penn State College of Science Advisory Board and the Penn State Research Foundation Board that equips companies with stimulus funds so their basic research could be turned into practical applications and products. Then, with two sons enrolled at Penn State and aging parents in Pennsylvania, he and his wife decided to relocate to the area, and a company was born.

This past fall, 1855 Capital launched. Its aperture is wide and mission is simple: helping Penn State-related startups succeed. They look at startups in areas like Information Technology, Advanced Materials, Fintech, Edtech and Healthcare and Medical Devices and help them meet their potential. They leverage the expertise, resources and support of Penn State, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, 1855 Capital’s Network of Limited Partners and the strength of over 700,000 alumni.

“There are a series of breakthrough research projects and student-led innovations circulating in the Penn State campuses that could be the seed to grow interesting startups,” Matt says.

Even though his inspiration was found on the West Coast and Silicon Valley, Matt sees no reason to replicate it. Happy Valley has a unique identity that is already strong in its own ways, and he wants to see it grow stronger.

“It's a great place. Everyone already knows that. It has one of the top research schools in the nation – in the world. It's such beautiful country with the arts and cultural events of a big city … and, of course, there is a large Penn State community around the world that loves this place.”

From the sounds of it, it's a great place that is about to get even better.

You can find more information at their website,, via email at infoThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 814-429-3777.

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.


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

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