Pittsburgh Business Times
Here's what the proposed state budget could mean for Innovation Work's funding
By Julia Mericle – Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times Feb 4, 2021 Updated Feb 5, 2021, 1:10pm EST Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2021-2022 general fund budget for Pennsylvania slates $14.5 million in funding for the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, the organization which, in part, funds Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works.
The authority splits most of that money evenly between the four Ben Franklin Technology Partners across the state as part of an economic development initiative to support technology-focused startups. Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works, anticipates IW will receive about $3.5 million of the funding.
In April 2020, The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority also offered an extra $1 million in funding to each of the partner organizations to support entrepreneurs facing challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, overall, Lunak said that annual budget number has been steadily decreasing since the Great Recession. He said when he started at Innovation Works in 2005, the authority had an about $50 million budget, which included about $28 million it distributed among the partners.
“Right now it is critically important,” Lunak said. “Entrepreneurs are going to play a critical role in restarting Pennsylvania’s economy and help us recover from the pandemic, and startups tend to create high-paying jobs and attract investment capital. They need this support now more than ever.”
Lunak said funding from the state will go toward investing in Pennsylvania startups. “Entrepreneurs are mobile and have choices in where they build their companies,” Lunak said. “And in some regions and states, they are investing heavily in their innovation economies, and we need to make sure that we continue to support entrepreneurs and keep those innovations and talent here in Pennsylvania.”