UC partners with Blackstone Charitable Foundation to expand LaunchPad

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The UC system announced its partnership with Blackstone Charitable Foundation to expand Blackstone LaunchPad, a program that provides entrepreneurial resources, to all UC campuses Tuesday, according to a press release.

Blackstone LaunchPad has been offered at UCLA since 2014, according to the press release. Under this $5 million expansion, all UC students will be able to attend LaunchPad events and have access to a mentorship network. Techstars, an entrepreneurial assistance organization, is also collaborating with LaunchPad to provide the program with additional resources, according to the press release.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will allocate $500,000 to each UC campus, giving the schools the flexibility to use the funds to supplement existing programs, according to Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the UC Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program and the Bay Area National Science Foundation Innovation Corps.

Shrader said Blackstone LaunchPad offers advice and guidance for student entrepreneurs who have an idea of the program they want to develop.

“If you are an entrepreneur looking for something on a very complex robust campus like Berkeley, you would be directed to the Blackstone LaunchPad and … would use the LaunchPad to develop your idea, or allow the LaunchPad staff to direct you on where to go,” said Amy Stursberg, Blackstone Charitable Foundation executive director. “So (LaunchPad is) really the core of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem of a campus. It’s the bottom of the pyramid, it’s where you enter the ecosystem.”

Stursberg said LaunchPad was created to promote entrepreneurship on college campuses and thus increase job growth, as studies have shown that two-thirds of all future jobs will come from new companies.

According to Shrader, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is allocating the funds to finance having an entrepreneur-in-residence who will serve as a contact point for students looking for entrepreneurial guidance. While Haas will support undergraduates, the remaining funds will be dedicated to providing resources primarily for graduate students.

“I really want to think about this as a resource for the whole campus, because it’s way beyond Haas,” Shrader said.

LaunchPad funds will also be used to create small targeted events — such as a startup weekend, accelerateHER, that focuses on women founders — hosted by Haas, according to Shrader.

Shrader also said she was excited that students will now have more options to network in various areas — such as food, retail and media — through LaunchPad.

Blackstone and Techstar will also host Propel, an annual training and exposure event in New York in which students will have the opportunity to network with mentors in their fields.

“(LaunchPad) also professionally develops students in terms of their resume, their skills and giving them exposure to the startup world,” Stursberg said.

Aishwarya Kaimal is the lead research and ideas reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K‏.