Coffee Hour with Don McCandless: Research to Start-Up: Initial steps to technology commercialization for Penn Staters

Friday, September 22, 2017 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m

About the talk

The thought of translating fundamental research into a commercial product can appear mysterious and daunting to many in the research and academic community. However, there is a process, with multiple pathways, that can be followed to increase the chances of success. These paths are lumpy, not linear. But by creating and investigating “Business Models” (not a “Business Plan”), researchers can get a better idea on whether there is actually a commercial need for their proposed product/service. This process is currently being implemented at the national level thru I-Corps programming at NSF and NIH, as well as by the 68 teams in the past five years in our TechCelerator@StateCollege Entrepreneurial boot camps. Today’s talk will outline several ways to get started, including an overview of licensing, funding options, prototyping, team formation, and customer discovery techniques.

About the speaker

Don McCandlessDon McCandless is currently the Director of Business Development for the Ben Franklin Transformation Business Services Network. His primary responsibility is to deliver critical management assistance to emerging, tech-based start-ups, which includes offering business support services relative to financial planning, cash management, market research, marketing strategy, corporate strategy, accounting operations, and software training.

In addition, Don coordinates the 10-week Boot Camps for Entrepreneurs offered by the TechCelerator@State College, a partnership among several local economic development programs including Ben Franklin, Invent Penn State, the CBICC, and Penn State’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). In the past 5 years, 68 teams graduated, forming 61 companies, receiving over $20M in start-up funding and generating $8M in revenue. 

A graduate of Notre Dame with a Master’s Degree in Business, Don also has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Pennsylvania State University. For 20 years he held a variety of roles at the Bellefonte-based, Restek Corporation, culminating with a five-year tenure as CEO.  While there, Restek grew from 30 to 275 employees and five international subsidiaries. The company was subsequently sold to the employees as part of an ESOP agreement.

Involved in the local community for over 20 years, Don is a former board member of the Chamber of Business & Industry, a former coach for State College Little League and Centre Soccer, a volunteer instructor for the Penn State Karate Club, and was part of the team that launched Centre Volunteers in Medicine in 2003, a free medical clinic for the uninsured in Centre County. 

Contact us

Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Angela Rogers in advance of your participation or visit.

Angela Rogers  office: 814-865-2493 email:

Coffee Hour