Montana State University

Grand opening for MSU's Blackstone LaunchPad set for Nov. 22

November 18, 2013 -- MSU News Service

Montana State University's Blackstone LaunchPad: Fostering Entrepreneurship   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

A grand opening for Montana State University’s new Blackstone LaunchPad is set for noon-2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at MSU. The event is free and open to the public.

The grand opening will be held in the new home of MSU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, which is located next to the university’s Union Market on the second floor of the Strand Union Building. The event includes a ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. and several speakers, including Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian, MSU President Waded Cruzado, Blackstone Advisory Partners’ Managing Director Patrick Schumacher, and representatives from Montana’s congressional delegation.

The space has been finished ahead of schedule and is situated in an ideal and central location in the heart of the Student Union Building, according to Carina Beck, director of MSU’s Career Services. Both MSU students and alumni will be able to use the LaunchPad to vet and develop ideas and receive venture coaching from staff and trained volunteers, Beck added. Students and alumni will also be able to utilize the Blackstone network to draw upon the expertise of venture coaches located across the nation.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad features a modern aesthetic designed specifically to facilitate ‘collision of ideas’ between students, Blackstone LaunchPad staff and mentors,” Beck said. “Students will be able to use a number of offerings to advance their ideas.”

The Blackstone LaunchPad is a collaboration of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, MSU, the University of Montana and Headwaters RC&D. The program is intended to train the region's next generation of entrepreneurs and is made possible by a three-year, $2 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The program introduces entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provides university students with a network of venture coaches and entrepreneurial support to transform new ideas into sustainable companies. With a physical presence at MSU and the University of Montana, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate some 380 new ventures in Montana over the next five years, according to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“MSU and the University of Montana recognize that their students represent the economic future of the state of Montana,” said Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “Blackstone LaunchPad introduces one-on-one consulting and a statewide venture coaching network of industry veterans to mentor any student driven to turn an idea into a company and build a career as an entrepreneur.”

Blackstone LaunchPad is designed to foster connections between the university campus, business community, and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures young entrepreneurs and provides them the skills and network necessary to succeed. Unlike traditional college curricular programs available to limited school populations, Blackstone LaunchPad is open to all 30,000 students at MSU and the University of Montana, regardless of major.

Blackstone LaunchPad is modeled after a successful program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 1,633 business proposals, 324 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,938 participants. Each new regional program is linked together, drawing ideas and best practices from the existing programs, and giving student entrepreneurs access to a national community of over 200,000 of their peers across nine affiliated campuses and expert advisers for their ventures.

Montana is now the fifth Blackstone LaunchPad region, following Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Contact: Carina Beck, (406) 994-4353 or