February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019


University Entrepreneurship Efforts Get Lift with Blackstone LaunchPad

Spurred by a $3 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, The University of Texas at Dallas will receive an influx of support for entrepreneurial efforts. The three-year grant aims to advance innovation across the state by expanding the foundation’s campus-based entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, to UT Dallas, UT Austin and Texas A&M.

At UT Dallas, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship serves as a campuswide innovation incubator, offering conferences, networking and competitions. Blackstone LaunchPad will bolster University efforts, creating a central hub for entrepreneurially minded individuals and enabling existing campus programs to expand organically.

“The new partnership between UT Dallas and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation … will provide a major quantum of new energy to our already dynamic campus culture of entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UT Dallas executive vice president and provost. “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.”

The new partnership between UT Dallas and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation … will provide a major quantum of new energy to our already dynamic campus culture of entrepreneurship.

Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UT Dallas executive vice president and provost

Each campus-based program provides aspiring innovators with the skills and network necessary to succeed. The UT Dallas facility will connect with the 17 Blackstone LaunchPads situated across the U.S. and Ireland, accessible to more than 500,000 students globally.

“Nobody becomes a successful entrepreneur by themselves,” said Steve Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone. “There’s somebody who helps you along the way … who does something for you that helps you get over a barrier.”

Regardless of major, students will be able to use Blackstone LaunchPad resources at any stage of their venture. The onsite facility will foster connections with peers, provide space for coaching and mentorship, and allow individuals to explore entrepreneurship as a career path.

Prior to the news conference, State Rep. Linda Koop, a representative from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s office and Gray Mayes, director of government relations at Texas Instruments, among others, got a firsthand look at how UT Dallas ingenuity can be used in real-world situations. The group toured the UTDesign studio, where seniors from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science work on team projects that attempt to solve problems faced by companies.

The ventures are proposed and sponsored by companies such as Texas Instruments, Essilor of America, Medtronic and Maxim Integrated. The group saw a large-mill 3-D printer, a device that automatically performs a crosshatch adhesion test for lenses, a tool that uses barcode technology to identify operating room tools and a wearable device that indicates hydration levels in people.

Based on results from other sites, the foundation predicts the Texas Blackstone LaunchPad programs could generate some 3,900 new ventures and 9,000 new jobs across the state over the next three years.

CEO Brian Shimmerlik launched Vengo Labs with the support of Blackstone LaunchPad. His company, which produces wall-mounted, digital kiosks that display ads and dispense items ranging from candy bars to lipstick and USB cords, installed products at New York University, Syracuse University, the University of Southern California and the University of Central Florida this summer.

“The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is giving all of us this opportunity to launch our ventures,” Shimmerlik said. “Take it.” 

Media Contact: Jill Blevins, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5386, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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