October 26, 2015

With $4.5 Million Blackstone Grant, Cornell Enters Partnership

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With a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Cornell, along with four other New York colleges — New York University, Syracuse University, the State University of New York at Albany and SUNY Buffalo — will enter a partnership that will foster an “entrepreneurial support system” for students of all majors.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded in 2007 and draws from the resources and “intellectual capital” of the firm to spur entrepreneurship within the county and across the globe, according to a University press release.

With the grant, New York will become the eighth Blackstone LaunchPad region following Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, California and Ireland. LaunchPad, the campus entrepreneurship program of the foundation, will see its largest expansion with this group of New York schools.

Blackstone LaunchPad New York aims to connect colleges, the business community and entrepreneurs to “establish a nurturing environment” and deliver the resources needed for students to “succeed as entrepreneurs,” according to a Blackstone press release.

All regional programs established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation are linked, giving student entrepreneurs access to best practices from across 21 campuses and an international community of over 500,000 advisors, according to the University.

“Cornell has a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem across many different disciplines. Blackstone LaunchPad will be a critical, new addition,” President Elizabeth Garrett said in the Blackstone release. “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.”

The partnership aims to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option for students, and will provide over 180,000 students with a “network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system,” according to Blackstone.

“The more we can do to encourage young New Yorkers with an idea to turn that idea into a viable business, the better,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), welcoming the foundation’s announcement. “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.”

The early success of Launchpad led to national recognition by President Barack Obama’s “Startup America” initiative, according to the Blackstone release. As such, the foundation pledged to expand the program over the next five years.

The program is funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which supports the “development of ecosystems for aspiring entrepreneurs creating the high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth.”