Texas A&M University and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation hosted an open house April 28 of the Blackstone LaunchPad (BLP) studio in the Koldus building.

After remarks by Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones, Blackstone Director Don Lewis, and Blake Teipel of Essentium Materials, tours of the studio in the Koldus Building were offered.

BLP is a campus-based program designed to assist and mentor students, faculty, staff, and alumni who want to learn about entrepreneurship opportunities at Texas A&M.

Blackstone expanded its campus entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, in 2016 to three Texas universities: Texas A&M, The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Dallas. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s three-year, $3 million grant will establish a partnership between the three institutions to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and offer opportunities to the universities’ 130,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.

Blackstone photo2“Texas has a strong business environment and is a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s chairman, CEO and co-founder. “As universities look to the private sector to expand their capabilities and provide experiential opportunities to their students, we are pleased to help meet that need and deliver the tools and resources to build strong enterprises rooted in the state and connected to a global network of entrepreneurs.”

The announcement was made at the UT Dallas Visitor Center Atrium, and speakers included Blackstone Chairman, CEO and co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman; co-founder and CEO of Vengo Labs (a Blackstone LaunchPad venture) Brian Shimmerlik; and executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Amy Stursberg. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Britt Harris, chief investment officer at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, were also scheduled to deliver remarks, but were unable to attend due to severe weather.

Leaders from each of the three universities also delivered messages of support. “This is a tailor-made opportunity for our students, to add to our array of entrepreneurial opportunities, both in and out of the classroom,” said Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University. “We are delighted to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad program and join with other top universities in enhancing the visibility of entrepreneurship on campus and enabling students to be mentored through a global network of entrepreneurs.”

Blackstone LaunchPad in Texas will connect the university campuses, the business community and local entrepreneurs throughout the state to create an environment that nurtures students and provides them with the skills and network necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs. With a physical presence on each university campus and access to the Blackstone LaunchPad’s global technology platform, the program has the potential to generate some 3,900 new ventures and 9,000 new jobs across Texas over the next three years. Texas becomes the ninth Blackstone LaunchPad region, following California, Florida, Ireland, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

“Whether it’s human space travel or the invention of the networked ATM, Texas scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs have always been at the forefront of American innovation. I look forward to continuing to work with key partners like the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to help prepare our next generation of young minds and to keep Texas as a leader in innovation and job creation,” said Sen. John Cornyn.

Each regional program established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is linked, drawing ideas and best practices from across 20 campuses, and giving student entrepreneurs in Texas access to an international community of more than 630,000 of their peers and expert advisers. Funding for this program is made possible through the Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which supports the development of a global network of regional programs for aspiring entrepreneurs creating the high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad initiative will complement the entrepreneurial programs we already have in place, such as Startup Aggieland, with a stronger regional entrepreneurial ecosystem that benefits everyone, not just students,” said Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School, lauded the addition of the program at Texas A&M. “By supporting connections to regional ecosystems, we are increasing the likelihood that student entrepreneurs remain in and contribute to their local economies.”

Dick Lester, executive director of Texas A&M’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, added: “I’m thrilled to welcome the Blackstone LaunchPad initiative to help Texas A&M students test ideas and grow a business while attending college. This initiative will raise the visibility of entrepreneurship on our campus and help students develop a mindset for venture creation.”

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.

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation:

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO 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 nationwide and globally. 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, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.

What others are saying about the project:

Gov. Greg Abbott said: “Entrepreneurship not only helps drive the Texas economy, it is part of our DNA. For the past three years, Texas has been the top high-tech exporting state in the nation, due in no small part to the framework we have built to attract innovators from across the globe. I am proud to welcome Blackstone LaunchPad to Texas A&M, UT Austin and UT Dallas as we continue to strengthen Texas’ culture of innovation through training and support at the university level.”

Britt Harris, Chief Investment Officer of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, said: “The growth of our state, nation and the world depends largely on the vision and viability of our entrepreneurs. These men and women, with their path breaking ideas, benefit us all. Texans, in particular, understand that.  The Blackstone LaunchPad will further unleash our state’s vast reservoir of creative and determined entrepreneurial talent. Because of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation three of our state’s great universities can now unleash many of their best and brightest using the advanced tools and expanded network that will link them to the ideas, networks and resources that are often the life blood of a successful entrepreneur.”

Gregory L. Fenves, President of University of Texas at Austin, said: “This generous grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation will help more UT Austin students engage in our robust startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We welcome this opportunity to connect with an even broader network of innovators throughout Texas and the partner universities globally. The University of Texas at Austin is committed to supporting startups, and has already made great progress through the Austin Technology Incubator. I look forward to working with the Blackstone LaunchPad team, as well as other partner universities in Texas and globally on this new initiative.”

Hobson Wildenthal, Interim President at University of Texas at Dallas, said: “The new partnership between UT Dallas and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation that will enable our students to have access to the Blackstone LaunchPad will provide a major quantum of new energy to our already dynamic campus culture of entrepreneurship. Affiliating with a prestigious organization such as Blackstone and joining, the national network of top universities linked through Blackstone LaunchPad, along with UT Austin and Texas A&M, will raise student awareness and interest in entrepreneurship to the highest possible level. The Blackstone LaunchPad facility will be a strong attractor bringing the broad cross section of our great student body into direct contact with entrepreneurship and give them added direction and enthusiasm. It is going to make a huge difference inside and outside UT Dallas.”

U.S. Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) said: “I commend the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for its commitment to and investment in our next generation of entrepreneurs. The expansion of Blackstone LaunchPad into Texas universities will provide our students the resources needed to nurture and foster the entrepreneurial spirit. This program will help our students succeed in the outside world and drive future economic opportunity.”

U.S. Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX): “I could not think of a better state to bring Blackstone LaunchPad to than Texas. We are state filled with go-getters…a state with a reputation for providing rock-solid education and a pro-business atmosphere, and I’m happy to give them a big Texas ‘howdy’! Creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship are part of what make America so unique. We must continue to foster these qualities in the minds and spirits of our younger generations. Blackstone LaunchPad will offer new opportunities to our Texas students, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”

U.S. Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) said: “This program will be an invaluable tool for Texas students that will encourage them to interact in a global network and give them the experience necessary to be successful in the free marketplace. I believe that one of the reasons Texas is a leader in job creation, economic development, and entrepreneurship is because of Foundations like the Blackstone Charitable Foundation who have taken a vested interest in working with young leaders in our community.”

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX):  “As Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, I’m pleased to see this private sector effort to facilitate and encourage the work of young entrepreneurs with state-of-the-art technology and educational partnerships.”