Published March 2, 2016
Tom Ulbrich, an assistant dean in the School of Management and executive director of its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), has been appointed executive director of the new Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, an experiential entrepreneurship program for students designed to help them develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets.
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation in October announced the three-year, $4.5 million grant to establish a partnership among five universities in New York State, including UB, to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide more than 500,000 students globally, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.
“The University at Buffalo is thrilled to be part of the Blackstone Foundation's $4.5 million investment to support university entrepreneurship across New York,” said Ulbrich. “The Blackstone LaunchPad will allow the university to greatly increase opportunities for students to explore entrepreneurship as a career option.”
The Blackstone LaunchPad will open its doors this semester and will be based in the Student Union on the North Campus.
“We strive to provide our students with the richest educational experience possible in and out of the classroom,” said Dennis R. Black, vice president for university life and services. “The Blackstone LaunchPad will provide students with an extraordinary entrepreneurial resource within one of the university’s most vibrant environments for students.”
“The Blackstone LaunchPad will build on significant investments made across the university in recent years to expand entrepreneurial support activities for students,” said A. Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic affairs and co-principal investigator on the grant.
“UB students have an outstanding track record of creating everything from cutting-edge biotechnology and novel materials to groundbreaking medical devices and computer software that’s used around the globe,” said Weber. “The Blackstone LaunchPad at UB will only increase the number of life-changing advancements to sprout from Western New York as students from across the university’s many fields of study utilize this truly remarkable program.”
Paul Tesluk, interim dean of the School of Management and co-principal investigator on the grant, said Ulbrich’s extensive experience as an entrepreneurial leader and advocate for small business will provide students with invaluable first-hand knowledge and guidance.
“Tom will connect student entrepreneurs to Western New York’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, and especially the extensive network of local entrepreneurs who are eager to work with and mentor students,” Tesluk said. “He brings to the position broad-based experience in both business and academic environments, as well as experience building consensus across multiple stakeholders in the university, community, business and public sectors.”
The Blackstone LaunchPad will connect the five university campuses — UB, Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and University at Albany — the business community and local entrepreneurs throughout the state to create an environment that nurtures students and provides them with the skills and network necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs.
With a physical presence on each university campus and access to the Blackstone LaunchPad’s global technology platform, the program has the potential to generate some 4,000 new ventures and 6,000 new jobs across New York State over the next five years.
Since joining UB in 2008, Ulbrich and his team at the CEL have worked to support the Western New York economy and community through entrepreneurial development. He has consulted with more than 350 businesses to help them implement best practices in their organizations, with an emphasis on strategy, customer loyalty and work-life balance.
Ulbrich is a member of the National Federation for Independent Business Leadership Trust and sits on multiple boards in the community. He is a frequent speaker on the importance of small business and entrepreneurship to the vitality of the American economy.
Under his leadership, CEL recently was recognized by Small Business Trends as one of the “Top-100 Small Business Influencers in North America.” Ulbrich holds an MBA from the UB School of Management and received specialized training in the unique dynamics of family businesses. He is a Gazelles International Certified Coach.