Alvernia and Lehigh Valley Angel Investors (LVAI) unite to develop a region-leading support operation for early-stage entrepreneurs as part of the university’s newly created and Reading-based business incubator housed in the University’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.

“The Lehigh Valley Angel Investors have an incredible track record of fostering and funding early-stage entrepreneurs as ideas grow into long-standing, profitable companies,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “The partnership will create additional experiential learning opportunities for our students as our student-powered business incubator comes to life. The partnership is a key component in Alvernia’s ability to champion our region’s budding entrepreneurs as this next initiative of Reading CollegeTowne springs to life.”

Key to the Alvernia/LVAI partnership will be the development of a financial services operation that will bring capital and knowledge to early-stage entrepreneurs in a unique delivery that includes new academic offerings for Alvernia students, as well as financing, investment and mentoring for rising entrepreneurs.

“With nearly half of our 50 members from the Reading area, we have a large contingency ready to give back to the Reading community and help young entrepreneurs,” said LVAI President Stu Schooley.

LVAI’s investment focus is varied, ranging from start-ups with some revenue to proof of concept startups. LVAI members, who’s professional expertise includes chemistry, engineering, IT, software among others, field presentations from two start-ups a month.

“We look forward to helping Alvernia, especially with mentoring, guidance and the opportunity for these O’Pake Institute entrepreneurs to seek funding for their projects,” said LVAI member Michael Caron, who will lead efforts with Alvernia and the O’Pake Institute.

The announcement comes shortly after Alvernia’s partnership establishment with SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter, which included the addition of an Alvernia University Technology Transfer Office and Office of Industry and Community Outreach as O’Pake Institute offerings. These two partnerships will allow Alvernia to become a leading source of education and mentoring for local small-business owners throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania region.

“This partnership will provide Alvernia students and the region’s entrepreneurs with unprecedented access to some of the area’s leading venture capitalists,” said Dr. Rodney Ridley, vice president, associate provost and chief operating officer for the O’Pake Institute.

“Tying together investment with business development support will provide a completely unique experiential learning process for students and critical behind the scenes support for businesses which we refer to as ‘Powered by O’Pake.’”

In December, Alvernia unveiled Reading CollegeTowne, a strategic model for economic development in downtown. Alvernia is finalizing a sale and purchase agreement for the property at 401 Penn Street, where it will expand its academic programs, student housing and community engagement. The downtown location also is where the new Alvernia/LVAI partnership will operate.