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Leading the Pack

UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad Wins Program’s Student Sign-Up Competition

Executive Director Jan Woodcock, left, with a student at the inauguration of UAlbany's Blackstone LaunchPad program. (Photo by Carlo de Jesus).

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 20, 2017) – After opening in the Campus Center nearly two years ago, UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship and innovation program has offered students with the tools and mentorship opportunities necessary to turn their startup ideas into thriving businesses.

Since then, the campus community has responded in large numbers – at least according to the latest report from Blackstone LaunchPad’s global network.

Competition Winner:

Dating back to last spring, almost 9 percent of UAlbany’s student body registered to join Blackstone LaunchPad’s network. That is the highest percentage of any of the program’s 30 university partners, including four other major university campuses in New York State – Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University, and the University at Buffalo.

In total, 1,438 UAlbany students signed up with Blackstone LaunchPad from last spring through this month. That more than doubled the combined number of student sign-ups at the UBuffalo, NYU and Cornell. It's also just 200 less than Syracuse who has nearly 5,000 more students.

The top three sign-up percentages included:

  • University at Albany: 8.46 percent
  • University of Texas at Dallas: 8.23 percent
  • Syracuse University: 7.41 percent

UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad program was awarded with $15,000 for leading the pack.

“The UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship and innovation program is continuing to be embraced and supported by the campus community,” said Jan Woodcock, UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad director. “By winning this competition, we are proving our students have a passion and interest for entrepreneurship and innovation. Not only did we win a large amount of money, but also beat dozens of other universities with much greater access to resources and infrastructure.”

Blackstone Launchpad Hub in Campus Center.

Members of the UAlbany community gather around Blackstone LaunchPad's Campus Center hub. (Photo by Carlo de Jesus)

Entrepreneurial Success:

UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad program has showed success out of the gate.

Of the 1,224 mentoring sessions conducted at the program’s five New York State Universities during the 2016-17 academic year, 71 percent were at UAlbany. Those sessions resulted in eight new student-formed companies and 81 active student businesses ventures on campus.

Blackstone LaunchPad also hosted UAlbany’s first campus-wide business plan competition in April 2016, offering cash prizes totaling $30,000. Angel investors and venture capitalists were involved to judge presentations from 35 different UAlbany student teams.

Another $16,000 was up for grabs in the program’s second University-wide business plan competition last semester.

In addition, Blackstone students have benefitted from the establishment of Innovate 518, which links entrepreneurs to incubators that offer mentorship, business services and strategies for obtaining new capital. They’re also working with various other local incubators in the Capital Region – including IgniteU N.Y.

Woodcock has hired a team of ambassadors who are building Blackstone LaunchPad’s profile on campus and said he hopes to continue to see the program’s numbers grow over the next academic year.

“We are committed to promoting entrepreneurship at UAlbany,” Woodcock said. “Blackstone is offering students with a unique experiential learning opportunity they do not get in the classroom. We are committed to helping anyone who wants to learn what it takes to create and sustain their own business."

To sign up for the University’s Blackstone Launch Program, visit its official website. You can also contact Woodcock, directly by email, or visit the program's location in the University’s Campus Center (adjacent to the Student Association offices).

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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.