In October 2015, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced the expansion of its Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program to five New York State universities, including the University at Albany.

New York’s Blackstone LaunchPad initiative also includes Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and the University at Buffalo — all partnering on a three-year, $4.5 million grant.

UAlbany officially opened the program’s physical space in the University’s Campus Center just three months later.

Through the program, UAlbany’s 17,300 students, plus faculty and staff, are given access to individualized coaching as well as seminars and training sessions related to building their own businesses. Interested students are required to write business plans, complete financial analyses and design marketing campaigns. In addition, the LaunchPad platform matches students with venture or angel funding by creating forums for investors to entertain student entrepreneur pitches. Students will also be teamed with external mentors and matched with business incubators to launch commercial ventures.

The program held its first business plan competition on campus in April 2016, teaching student entrepreneurs how to pitch their ideas to potential investors. The competition, which was held in UAlbany’s Massry Center for Business, invited angel investors and venture capitalists to judge pre-sentations from 35 UAlbany student teams. Winners were awarded cash prizes totaling $30,000.

With a physical presence on the five university campuses and access to the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network Technology Platform, over the next five years the program has the potential to generate approximately 4,000 new ventures and 6,000 new jobs across New York.