To the Editor: I'd like to take a moment to address the issues raised by Alex Hurst ("P2B not a high-tech utopia," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/20/00). I appreciate Alex's opinion, but in the interest of fairness and accuracy, I'd like to comment on some of his points. * Alex is correct that the University "is already rich in entrepreneurial resources," However, P2B and PenNetWorks in particular will serve as an additional outlet for entrepreneurs. It is well documented that successful entrepreneurial hotbeds throughout the country have a critical mass of new companies and support organizations that contribute to the viability of the technology community. * The incubator model has taken some lumps recently, but a number are thriving despite current market conditions. PenNetWorks is well positioned for success, not because we have a "shiny building," but due to the network in place to support entrepreneurs. We have access to the entire University infrastructure, Redleaf's substantial network and support from world-renowned sponsors. * Alex discusses the University's motivation behind this initiative. He states that Penn will "cash in on the technology boom with little downside" and that "the entrepreneur assumes all the real risk." The University has already invested in putting together the PenNetWorks facility. Redleaf has devoted almost $1 million to the facility. In fact, if an entrepreneur is admitted, Redleaf provides pre-seed capital as a loan to the entrepreneur. The loan converts into equity upon successful graduation. If the entrepreneur does not graduate, the loan disappears. The entrepreneur is never obligated to pay it back. * The University's primary motivations behind this initiative are economic development and the provision of resources to students, faculty and staff in order to prevent "brain drain." The administration wants to keep the entrepreneurial talent in our area. Penn will hold no position in, and reap no benefit from, any student-related business. * Finally, Alex is right: P2B does not guarantee success. Entrepreneurs should explore all options carefully and assess the risks and rewards. However, we feel that our help will maximize an entrepreneur's chance for success and that we can all benefit. Obviously Alex thinks we're doing something right. He's co-CEO of a company that has recently applied for admission to PenNetWorks.
Craig Markovitz Chief operating officer, PenNetWorksComments powered by Disqus
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