DANVILLE —  Danville is partnering with Lewisburg's entrepreneurial incubator, Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC), to form Startup Danville, a business incubator.

Lewisburg entrepreneurs frequently come through Bucknell University’s SBDC when they look to turn their new ideas into reality — more specifically its Startup Lewisburg entrepreneurial incubator. 

Now, in partnership with DRIVE (Driving Real Innovation for a Vibrant Economy), an economic development entity, the Bucknell SBDC is replicating that startup incubator model in Danville. The business incubator has been open since March in the DRIVE office building along Railroad Street in Danville at the site of the former Metso Minerals complex. 

Partnering with SBDC "brings to the table a deep understanding and ability to work with entrepreneurs, and provide them with technical assistance and guidance that certainly beyond the scope of what DRIVE is able to do," said DRIVE Executive Director Jennifer Wakeman on Wednesday afternoon.

"They will allow us to engage with businesses that are at a different level," she said. "A lot of what DRIVE typically does is industrial development. Large business development. In teaming up with SBDC, it is another prong in economic development. Entrepreneurs, start-ups... those are the large businesses of tomorrow."

Following initial support from Merck’s Neighbor of Choice program, Startup Danville will soon be scaling up operations with support from a new $99,500 Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This started out as an experiment to see if we could replicate Startup Lewisburg within this community,” said Denny Hummer, Bucknell SBDC assistant director, business incubation, who oversees both startup incubators. “With the initial support we received from DRIVE and Merck, we welcomed our first tenant in May and haven’t looked back since.”

With a location less than a mile from Geisinger, Startup Danville is focusing on health care and technology innovations.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility already has four member startups.

“The pandemic has served to highlight the critical need for innovations being fostered by this initiative,” says Bucknell SBDC Director Steve Stumbris. “Throughout this project, SBDC educational programming, advisory services and expanded office space will be targeted toward entrepreneurs who are working to foster innovations in health services delivery and sustain the health of the community.”

According to Hummer, Merck also plans to provide access to intellectual talent by involving local staff in this initiative, an engagement above and beyond the financial support the company provides through its Neighbor of Choice program.

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