A collaborative effort to support entrepreneurship fosters innovation in the Central PA region.
Tuesday, December 13, 2023
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania— “Rising tides raise all ships” is the common mantra for two local investment firms, Harrisburg University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), an incubator for tech start-ups in Central Pennsylvania, and partner White Rose Ventures, an investment firm out of York, Pennsylvania. The tech-backers recently teamed up in support of budding, new business, Athlon, and intend to co-support more start-ups in the Central PA region.
Venture capital has not been considered prevalent in Central PA. However, the two entities plan to make positive change in the region by backing the ideas and motivations of founders in the area. While there wasn’t a deliberate cooperation between investment firms in the past, the two organizations intend to promote investment collaboration in the future.
“We want to elevate entrepreneurs regionally and across the Commonwealth,” says Martin Fedorko, Managing Partner of White Rose Ventures. “Innovation doesn’t occur just in Silicon Valley. Innovation is ubiquitous. When you have a functioning ecosystem that includes capital and support for entrepreneurs, the sky is the limit for any region and any investor in the country.”
“We want to encourage, attract and keep talent in this area,” adds Jay Jayamohan, Executive Director of the CIE at Harrisburg University. “Innovation and entrepreneurialism are a common thread in supporting any community, and we are motivated to bolster this for the Central PA region.”
Christina Milano-Damaskos, co-founder and CEO of Athlon, and her husband, co-founder and CTO of Athlon, Matt Damaskos, set out to create an experience through gamification in augmented reality. Students engage in “bite-sized” activities (5 minutes) that support them in physical activity or mental health breaks. This leads to more productive classrooms and less disruption for teachers. The co-founders, along with a team of advisors in exercise science and neuroscience ensure they’re incorporating the latest techniques for physical activity and mental health.
Athlon’s flagship product is an app for K-8th grades called Rallee, which is currently piloting with two local school districts in the Harrisburg area. After pitching to Harrisburg School District, the co-founders decided to relocate to the area to fully support the schools and completely immerse themselves—they were immediately embraced by the community.
“We were drawn to the kids and the mindset of this region. We knew there was a huge opportunity to support the schools, the children, and the families of this area,” says Christina Milano-Damaskos, Co-founder and CEO of Athlon. “Since we arrived in May 2023, we’ve been completely embraced by the community, and are thankful for the CIE and White Rose Ventures for supporting us.”
Incubators, like the CIE, foster relationships for start-up founders, helping them build a network of mentors, experts, fellow entrepreneurs, and investors like White Rose Ventures. The CIE team supports all aspects of business development from market validation and product refinement to marketing strategies and scaling tactics, ensuring that the incubator’s participants have all the resources required to nurture and develop their ideas.
The theme of early-stage investing is spreading in the area, too. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA (Ben Franklin CNP), a leading tech-based economic development program that serves all of Pennsylvania, announced on December 12th that they are also investing in tech-startup Athlon, rounding out a trio of investors supporting new tech businesses in the region. “Ben Franklin CNP is pleased with the region’s collaborative support of the Athlon team and believes that their research-backed platform will enable teachers to better assist students in navigating the learning day while improving the students physical and mental wellbeing, a win-win for education in Pennsylvania,” states Joseph Hackett, Regional Director for Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP.
Those interested in connecting with the Harrisburg University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) incubator can reach out through their website (cie.harrisburgu.edu) or to present a business concept to White Rose Ventures, reach out through their website (whiteroseventures.com) and Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP (cnp.benfranklin.org).
Founded by a team of youth fitness instructors, the team share a passion for teaching kids healthy habits and bring together complementary backgrounds from professional sports and healthcare technology. Their products are backed by exercise science and neuroscience professionals with experience in NASM Certified Youth Exercise, YMCA Sports Instruction, Mindfulness-Based Performance, functional neurology, osteopathy, and brain research.
Learn more about their flagship app, Rallee: https://letsrallee.com/
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENURSHIP AT HARRISBURG UNIVERSITY:
Powered by Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) delivers entrepreneurial education and start up support services to the previously underserved communities of women, the disadvantaged, and other minority groups, as well as entrepreneurs and companies looking to innovate in Central Pennsylvania.
Learn about their incubator program, networking events, and more: cie.harrisburgu.edu
ABOUT WHITE ROSE VENTURES:
White Rose Ventures is a network-driven venture firm working with entrepreneurs, foundations, private investors and corporate partners to deliver solutions that enhance and promote entrepreneurial-led economic development in South Central Pa.
Learn more about White Rose Ventures: whiteroseventures.com/
For more information, press only:
- Athlon: email@example.com
- White Rose Adventures: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Harrisburg University: email@example.com
- CIE: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the investors and organizations:
For more information on the company and product: