Something BIG is Happening at Penn State!

What is BIG?

BIG, “Business and Innovation Group” is a newly inaugurated group at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. Previously known as the “Hershey Medical Consulting Group”, the organization was rebranded toward the end of 2019 to more accurately represent the mission of the group. We are currently represented by Dr. Kevin Harter, Director of the Center of Medical Innovation (CMI) at Penn State Hershey and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Penn State Harrisburg.

Role of BIG at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine

There is a disconnect between the business world and the science realm. More often than not, there is a major gap between how scientific research could be used to contribute to business and innovation from a practical standpoint that involves real-world experience for students wishing to explore this field. This group was formed out of a need to introduce students to alternative career paths in business. With these efforts in mind, the group hopes to strengthen networking opportunities for budding scientists and medical students. The primary role of the group is to expose individuals to the world of business and innovation as it relates to healthcare, medicine, and research.

BIG Projects and Activities

The club retains traditional consulting club functions, which currently involve working with individual companies and collaborating with the CMI on technology transfer projects. We work in collaboration with the CMI to analyze medical innovations from Penn State faculty (including professors and physicians) and propose action-plans that will push the technology forward. Currently, we are evaluating the commercialization potential of more than 40 Penn State Hershey research projects. We are conducting preliminary market research to determine the translational feasibility of each individual project and its potential for a profitable and scalable start-up.

The group plans on attending consulting case competitions in order to increase our exposure to the world of business and consulting. Traditional consulting clubs such as Johns Hopkins Graduate Consulting Club and Yale Graduate Consulting Club host annual case competitions where students of all disciplines work as a team to solve a relevant healthcare issues presented by a pharmaceutical company. These events are highly competitive and heavily attended by consulting firms for networking and recruiting purposes. Additionally, attending these competitions will provide an opportunity for our students to gain valuable experiences, insight, and connections.

Lastly, we are planning to host a healthcare-related “hackathon” event that will provide a multi-disciplinary and collaborative opportunity for students. The goal of the event is to solve a specific, healthcare-related problem posed by a Penn State College of Medicine department. Groups of students will be guided by faculty advisors to propose and develop innovative solutions to the problem. This will be followed by a short pitch competition with a panel of judges to evaluate the solution for commercialization and scalability potential.

Joining BIG

Ironically the BIG group consists of only a small group of graduate, medical and post-doctoral students who are dedicated to ensuring the completion of collaborative projects and business oriented events. If you are interested in joining the group to gain experience and help plan activities, feel free to contact me at or Bryan Tsao at

By Laura Budurlean

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