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Blackstone LaunchPad Program to Help Students Transform Innovation into Commercialization

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 27, 2016) -- The University at Albany community today inaugurated Blackstone LaunchPad, a multidisciplinary experiential learning program that supports a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by providing tools for student entrepreneurs to turn ideas into viable businesses.

Take a sneak peek at the space the Blackstone Launchpad calls home in the Campus Center on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus.

The Blackstone Launchpad platform will afford student entrepreneurs with individualized coaching as well as seminars and training sessions related to building a business. Students will write business plans, complete financial analyses, and design marketing campaigns. In addition, the LaunchPad platform will match students with venture or angel funding by creating forums for investors to entertain student entrepreneur pitches. Students will also be teamed up with external mentors and matched with business incubators to launch commercial ventures.

UAlbany Student touts new Blackstone LaunchPad

Aided by Blackstone LaunchPad, student Elsie Essien is turning her art talent and education into a viable business designing decorative fabrics. (Photo by Carlo de Jesus).

"UAlbany is proud to be partnering with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem on our campus and in the local community," said UAlbany President Robert J. Jones. "Blackstone LaunchPad will give our students the mentoring needed to turn their ideas into new business ventures that create jobs and promote economic growth in the Capital Region."

Michael Nash '83, executive chairman of Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies was onsite to launch the program at UAlbany.

"On behalf of Blackstone and as a proud alumnus of the University, I am very glad to help celebrate the opening of Blackstone LaunchPad at UAlbany," said Michael Nash '83, executive chairman of Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies. "We join the student body and University administration in looking forward to seeing the results of the entrepreneurial activity that Blackstone LaunchPad will help foster on campus in the years ahead."

Sanjay Goel, principal investigator for UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad and associate professor of information technology management will provide advisement services to students.

"To achieve success in their lives, students need to get inspired at some time during their education and they can go on to do amazing things," said Goel. "Blackstone LaunchPad provides the opportunity to cultivate that inspiration through mentoring. As we help students refine their ideas, we can see their eyes light up as they realize the potential of their idea and it fuels their zeal to bring their ideas to reality."

Global Connections
The Blackstone LaunchPad platform will connect UAlbany's 17,300 students to other campuses, the business community, and local entrepreneurs throughout the state to create an environment that nurtures students to succeed as entrepreneurs. With a physical presence on each university campus and access to the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network Technology Platform, the program has the potential to generate some 4,000 new ventures and 6,000 new jobs across New York over the next five years.

Funding for the program is made through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which seeks to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and support the development of ecosystems for aspiring entrepreneurs creating high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth.

In October 2015, the Charitable Foundation expanded its Blackstone LaunchPad initiative across the state of New York, announcing a three-year, $4.5 million partnership grant with the University at Albany, Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University, and the University at Buffalo.

Each regional program established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is linked, drawing ideas and best practices from across 21 campuses, and giving student entrepreneurs in New York access to an international community of more than 500,000 of their peers and expert advisers.

During a campus soft launch phase in the fall semester of 2015, the Blackstone LaunchPad program hosted a hierarchical business plan competition open to all UAlbany students, regardless of major. There were multiple categories of competition at the first level based on related areas including fine arts, social sciences, computers, physical sciences, and health sciences. The total awarded for the competition was $50,000 with a top prize of $20,000 for the winner.

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.