Mithra KaushikMercury Staff
POSTEDApril 24, 2017
University uses million-dollar grant to fund effort to launch projects
Any UTD student with entrepreneurial ideas will have the opportunity to turn them into companies using the free resources of the Blackstone LaunchPad, which is scheduled to open at the end of April.
UTD has been working to create a physical workspace for an entrepreneurial program since last summer when The Blackstone Charitable Foundation provided the university with a $1 million grant to fund the effort.
According to the Foundation’s website, “Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus based entrepreneurship program, accessible by over 630,000 students globally, designed to support and mentor students, staff and alumni — regardless of major, experience or discipline.”
The program at UTD is led by Bryan Chambers, the project director and Sarah Crowe, the project manager.
“It is going to be a fully accessible, open space on campus where students who are interested in entrepreneurship or have already started a business can come and meet with mentors, co-work with their fellow employees or with other students that they have business ideas that they want to work on. It will be a place for meetings,” Crowe said.
Located in Parking Structure 3, the interior features an industrial modern workspace with a kitchenette, five offices, an open area with tables as a student workspace, whiteboard walls and two conference rooms.
Students will have the opportunity to work with visiting mentors in their field of entrepreneurship to receive guidance for their startup. These mentors are local entrepreneurs from various fields, who will share their experience with students through workshops.
“We also have a pretty robust mentorship program that we are going to be continuing building, and students come and meet with mentors. It’s a specially curated list of mentors from the community, all wakes of expositions in town, ranging from technology to retail and sales to lawyers who can come and advise students. So it will be the physical space on campus where entrepreneurship happens,” Crowe said.
The program is open to all students, regardless of their major or school.
“One of our missions is to not only teach entrepreneurship but to begin to educate the students that this is not something that is located under a specific school,” Crowe said. “This is something that we want students who are in interdisciplinary studies to engineering students to ATEC students to become curious about and to feel that this is someplace that they can explore an idea or flat out learn about entrepreneurship.”
The resources are completely free.
“Neither Blackstone LaunchPad or the university will take any money that is earned or take your idea and claim it as their own,” Crowe said.
Despite being called a program, there is no official initiation or application process. Additionally, the program will not turn away those who want entrepreneurial assistance.
“If you have the slightest inkling of interest in entrepreneurship, we welcome you to come visit us,” Crowe said. “Let’s talk about it. Get engaged with us.”