All systems go for Blackstone LaunchPad in Buffalo

UB officials (from left) Thomas Ulbrich, Markel Vega, Joshua Krapf, Charles Zukoski, Satish Tripathi, Alisha Slye, Scott Weber, Minahil Khan, Paul Tesluk and Dennis Black prepare to cut the ribbon officially opening the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB. Photo: Douglas Levere

The entrepreneurship program will help students turn ideas into viable businesses

Release Date: March 7, 2016

“UB attracts some of the country’s most ambitious students and Blackstone LaunchPad will provide them with the tools they need to launch their own initiatives while simultaneously creating a framework for long-term partnership and growth for the State of New York.”
Amy Stursberg, executive director
Blackstone Charitable Foundation

BUFFALO, N.Y. – 3… 2… 1… Liftoff!

The University at Buffalo today officially unveiled Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, a hands-on learning program created by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation that is designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option to the university’s approximate 30,000 students, regardless of major.

The program, which is located within the Student Union on the North Campus, will provide students with individualized mentorship and ideation support, as well as seminars and training sessions related to building a business. Students will also gain access to resources and specialized tools that will enable them to share knowledge, explore best practices, find team members and launch their startup.

Additionally, the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB will match students with mentors and venture or angel funding by creating forums for investors to entertain student entrepreneur pitches, and help place students with business incubators.

“We have a really vibrant culture of student entrepreneurship at UB, not only in fields like management and engineering, but across the disciplines,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said. “We’re very invested in nurturing and supporting that entrepreneurial spirit taking hold at UB and in our city, and the Blackstone LaunchPad program will play a key role in those efforts. We’re very happy to provide our students with this exciting new resource, and we can’t wait to see their great ideas coming to life as they start their own ventures.”

“Our Blackstone LaunchPad New York grant represents the largest expansion of the program to date, connecting five New York university campuses – University at Buffalo, Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and University at Albany,” said Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “UB attracts some of the country’s most ambitious students and Blackstone LaunchPad will provide them with the tools they need to launch their own initiatives while simultaneously creating a framework for long-term partnership and growth for the State of New York.”

Funding for Blackstone LaunchPad at UB is provided by Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which develops ecosystems for aspiring entrepreneurs working to create high-growth ventures that spark economic growth.

In October, the foundation announced a three-year, $4.5 million grant to establish a presence at UB and four other institutes of higher learning in New York State: Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and University at Albany. The collection of New York universities is the largest and latest expansion of the Blackstone LaunchPad program, which operates in seven other areas: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, California and Ireland.

Each regional program is linked, drawing ideas and best practices from across all participating campuses and giving student entrepreneurs access to an international community of more than 500,000 of their peers and expert advisers.

The New York version of the Blackstone LaunchPad is expected to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option to more than 180,000 students. It also has the potential – by connecting the university campuses, the business community and local entrepreneurs throughout New York State – to generate some 4,000 new ventures and 6,000 new jobs during the next five years.

The Blackstone LaunchPad will complement the State University of New York’s Applied Learning program, which encourages tens of thousands of students across the state to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve learned at school outside the classroom with internships, volunteerism and other opportunities. One component of Applied Learning, SUNY Discovers, focuses on entrepreneurship.

At UB, the program will strengthen the university’s portfolio of student-focused economic development initiatives that include the Entrepreneurship Academy's Elevator Pitch Competition and e-Bootcamp, the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition and Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab), Buffalo Student Sandbox and the co-working space tenX.

It also will help encourage students to engage in job creation through UB-led economic development programs including UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, UB’s Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology, and UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), which directs three business incubator programs and a regional incubator network.

What They Are Saying: A Quote Roundup

“Through the Blackstone LaunchPad, all UB students, independent of major, will have additional resources and tools to develop their ideas into viable ventures and social impact. The LaunchPad will provide students with excellent experiential learning opportunities and access to the Blackstone network, allowing them to contribute to innovation and economic development within our region and beyond,” UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski said.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad will provide students from across the university – regardless of their major, business idea or entrepreneurial experience – with a remarkable suite of resources they can use to grow a business from the ground up,” said Thomas R. Ulbrich, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB.

“Taking ideas from the classroom – and from life – and applying them successfully is what education and entrepreneurship are all about,” said Dennis R. Black, vice president for university life and services. “This program is designed to launch student ideas for everyone’s benefit.”

“Students from across the university, who study everything from arts and the humanities to life sciences and engineering, are brimming with ideas to start new and exciting businesses,” said A. Scott Weber, UB’s senior vice provost for academic affairs and co-principal investigator on the grant. “The Blackstone LaunchPad, combined with UB’s existing entrepreneurial support services, will help make those ideas a reality.”

“Blackstone LaunchPad is ‘UB Entrepreneurship 2.0,’” said Paul Tesluk, interim dean of the School of Management. “It promises to be a whole new chapter for entrepreneurship at UB and will provide students with a tremendous platform that connects them to a vast array of educational experiences, resources, expertise, mentoring and coaching, and helps them build their entrepreneurial thinking, aspirations and achievements. Entrepreneurial activities, both here at UB and in the greater Western New York community, are helping to transform our region and economy and will grow even stronger thanks to the opportunities made available through the Blackstone network.”

“The Blackstone LaunchPad will help UB students develop an entrepreneurial spirit by providing unique opportunities like securing an audience with venture capitalists or gaining a global network of like-minded students. The resources made available through the Blackstone LaunchPad will enable UB students to drive economic development in our community,” said Minahil Khan, a senior communication and political science major, and president of UB’s Student Association.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad at UB will help solve issues that I faced as a growing entrepreneur and help other entrepreneurs become successful. I plan to be the first person in line when the doors open,” said Markel Vega, a student entrepreneur and senior marketing major in UB’s School of Management.


Media Contact Information

Cory Nealon
Director of News Content
Engineering, Computer Science
Tel: 716-645-4614
Twitter: @UBengineering