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UAlbany Chosen by Blackstone LaunchPad to Help its Students Transform Innovation into Commercialization

At the Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program announcement, left to right: Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller; John Sexton, president of NYU; Charles Zukoski, provost of the University at Buffalo; U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer; Joan Solotar ’86, chair of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation; Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation; President Jones; Hamilton (Tony) James, president and chief operating officer of Blackstone.

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 23, 2015) -- University at Albany President Robert J. Jones joined Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Blackstone Charitable Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Tony James in New York City today to announce the expansion of the Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program to the University and four New York State universities.

Blackstone LaunchPad in New York will connect UAlbany’s 17,300 students with 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.

“As a comprehensive public research university, UAlbany plays a significant role in New York State's economic growth through our support for innovative research and entrepreneurship. Blackstone LaunchPad will help solidify this role by connecting and strengthening our entrepreneurial resources across the University,” said UAlbany President Jones. “We deeply appreciate this investment from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and look forward to our continued collaboration as we support students in bringing their ideas to market—and attracting venture capital to our campus and our region.”

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

The announcement occurred at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. It featured video messages from the presidents and chancellors from each of the five campuses and other local New York politicians.

Funding for the program is made possible 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.

New York becomes the eighth Blackstone LaunchPad region, following Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, California, and Ireland.

Welcoming the announcement, Senator Chuck Schumer said, “The more we can do to encourage young New Yorkers with an idea to turn that idea into a viable business, the better. Blackstone’s LaunchPad program, with this new grant, will provide the tools that young entrepreneurs at our premier universities need to succeed and create the next generation of New York businesses. From its earliest days, New York has been a cauldron of innovation. The LaunchPad program will help tap into that entrepreneurial spirit; it will be a tremendous resource for our students, the participating universities, and for our economy.”

“New York’s superb universities have always drawn some of the country’s most driven and talented young people,” said Blackstone President and COO Tony James. “The Blackstone LaunchPad program will provide these students with the tools to build strong enterprises rooted in the state and connected to a global network of entrepreneurs.”

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 over 500,000 of their peers and expert advisers. Due to the early success of Blackstone LaunchPad following its implementation in Michigan, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation was recognized by President Obama’s “Startup America” Initiative and pledged to expand the program to five new regions over five years. That pledge was fulfilled by the program’s earlier expansion to California.

In 2015, Blackstone LaunchPad will host a hierarchical business plan competition open to all UAlbany students, regardless of major. There will be multiple categories of competition at the first level based on cognate areas including, fine arts, social sciences, computers, physical sciences, and health sciences. The total award money for the competition is $50,000 with a top prize of $20,000 for the winner.

Each team or individual will be required to submit a complete business plan and, if selected, will make a pitch to a review board comprising entrepreneurs and venture mangers. Blackstone LaunchPad will provide mentoring and other forms of support to help students create their business ideas/plans.

What They Are Saying: A Quote Roundup

Elizabeth Garrett, president of Cornell University, said: “Cornell has a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem across many different disciplines. Blackstone LaunchPad will be a critical, new addition. We want to inspire, enable and accelerate our students along the entrepreneurial path, and I cannot wait for Blackstone LaunchPad at Cornell to be up and running.”

Kent D. Syverud, chancellor of Syracuse University, said: “Syracuse University has a proud entrepreneurial spirit. It is a pillar of our present and of our future endeavors,” says Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. “The Blackstone LaunchPad program will allow us to align all our entrepreneurial efforts on within our schools and colleges. Additionally, the grant will help us further develop innovative opportunities for our students, and help us enhance the entrepreneurial efforts in Central New York.”

John Sexton, president of New York University, said: “Entrepreneurship is deeply intertwined in NYU’s DNA like it is in New York City’s DNA. This magnificent gift will permit that spirit to flourish more fully on our campus.”

Satish Tripathi, president of the University at Buffalo, said: “The Blackstone LaunchPad will support a passionate entrepreneurial spirit taking hold at our university and in our city. We have a thriving culture of student entrepreneurship at UB, and UB students from many different disciplines are starting their own promising ventures. We are excited about providing our students with this new resource as they hone their skills and explore new avenues for launching their ideas.”

U.S. Representative John Katko (NY-24), said: “As Central New York’s Representative in Congress, I was pleased to learn that Syracuse University – the largest university in my district – has been awarded this multi-year grant. This program will give young people the resources and training that they need to grow their ideas into profitable endeavors. The training of our next generation of entrepreneurs on Syracuse’s campus will both complement the budding technology and research hubs right here in Central New York and help to stimulate economic growth.”

U.S. Representative Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), said: “The resources secured today will train tomorrow's entrepreneurs and enhance the landscape of New York small business. In my community, I look forward to seeing the results that Blackstone LaunchPad is known for at UAlbany. Today, in an increasingly global marketplace, local economies have more opportunity than ever to become success stories and make our communities proud – this grant has positioned our future leaders to do just that.”

U.S. Representative Tom Reed (NY-23), said: “Entrepreneurs will create the jobs and careers of tomorrow, generating new products and services right here at home. It’s only fair to support programs like the Blackstone LaunchPad initiative which support these hard-working men and women while they pursue their dreams and make America a better place.”

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering 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 hardest hit by the global economic crisis. 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, go to

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About the University at Albany
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