The Austin entrepreneurial community came together on Wednesday, April 12 to celebrate the grand opening of the Blackstone LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin. President Greg Fenves, Vice President of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Tony Tolentino, School of Undergraduate Studies Dean Brent Iverson, and Cristal Glanchai, director of the LaunchPad, were on hand to cut the ribbon and officially open the space.
“As a university of the first class in this era, it is our responsibility to provide ample opportunity for our students to gain that essential level of expertise, while learning the equally essential skills of cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said President Greg Fenves in his remarks at the opening. “The Blackstone LaunchPad is going to help us do that and we are very excited to see the innovative ideas and businesses that will emerge from this program in the coming years.”
The April 12 event marked the realization of months of planning to create a physical space for the program, which is housed in the heart of campus on the main floor of the Flawn Academic Center. Created with a $1 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Blackstone LaunchPad at UT Austin is an interdisciplinary, cross-campus effort designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path to the university’s diverse student population. The aim is to provide students the skills they need, through individualized coaching and support, to start a company or fully realize an idea.
Brent Iverson, the grant’s principal investigator, said, “Our graduates need to have an entrepreneurial mindset whether they start a company or not. This unique partnership between the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research will go a long way toward involving all members of the campus community in entrepreneurship.”
The new director of the university’s LaunchPad initiative is Cristal Glangchai, a scientist and startup CEO who received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from UT. “Entrepreneurship is for everyone. Whether you’re studying music, history, or biology, entrepreneurship enables you to apply what you are learning to the real world, and empowers you to create your future.”
The campus-based Blackstone entrepreneurship program, available to more than 630,000 students in the United States and internationally, funds centers like the new LaunchPad at UT Austin to help college students turn ideas into small businesses while supporting local economies.