Syracuse University kicks off Blackstone LaunchPad with energizing grand opening event
Get a job after graduation or create your own? That’s the decision students at Syracuse University are exploring as part of a new campus entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad.
Last week SU hosted a LaunchPad grand opening celebration featuring student demonstrations, along with the presentation of $60,000 in CompeteCNY awards to winning SU student ventures in the regional qualifier of the NYS Business Plan Competition. Nearly three dozen teams came together during the program’s soft launch to participate in the competition and grand opening Demo Day – fast-tracking the program’s kick-off. Six of the teams are going on the New York State finals this week in Albany.
LaunchPad grand opening guests participated in a ribbon-cutting and tour of the facility, which is a new space in SU’s Bird Library that is a hub for students with entrepreneurial ideas. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are able to use the LaunchPad to tap assistance launching a venture and connecting with Syracuse University’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. The highly visible coworking space can also be used for ideation workshops, networking events, coaching, team meetings, pitches, product demos and launches.
StayBillety, a faculty-student venture that recently launched from the space, was part of the grand opening demo, and then went on to pitch a few days later in Toronto on Dragon’s Den – the Canadian version of Shark Tank.
“It was a great kickoff event. A large crowd of several hundred people attended, including university leadership, community and business leaders, funders and investors,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University. “The student venture demos were energizing and the Blackstone executives were very impressed.”
The initiative was announced last fall after SU received a $900,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to become part of the Blackstone LaunchPad global network. Cornell, New York University, University at Albany and University at Buffalo were also awarded funds to create a network of venture coaches and a campus-wide entrepreneurial support system. The five New York State campuses are collaborating to share best practices and connect their students to a larger mentor network.
“Syracuse University has a proud tradition of entrepreneurial spirit and of teaching students to be creators and innovators,” said Chancellor Kent Syverud at the grand opening. “Innovation is a pillar of our present and future—and a key theme of our Academic Strategic Plan. Today more than ever, innovation and entrepreneurship drive economic growth and opportunity.”
“The Blackstone LaunchPad will allow us to coordinate and align our entrepreneurial efforts, develop opportunities for our students to pursue the next big ideas, and connect them with mentors and expert advisors,” he added. “The LaunchPad space is dedicated to research, learning, and innovation, regardless of major. It is the cross-disciplinary center of the University and a place that fosters collaboration and discovery.”
Known for supporting the development of ecosystems by encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to create high-growth ventures that catalyze economic growth, Blackstone LaunchPad connects a network of global campuses in the program. This model allows each college and university to share ideas and best practices with an international community of more than 500,000 peers and expert advisers.
For pictures and video from the grand opening, and a look at some of the student ventures that are developing in the pipeline, follow Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University on Facebook.