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Innovation & Job News

Temple boosts student entrepreneurship with its Blackstone LaunchPad Center

Blackstone Launchpad provides resources to Temple's fledgling entrepreneurs

A little over two years ago, Temple University announced that it was partnering with Philadelphia University and the University City Science Center on the $3 million Blackstone LaunchPad grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and now, Temple's Blackstone Launchpad Center is officially open.

"The Center has been up and running in one form or another since spring of 2013, but really most of the activity has been going on since fall of 2014," says Temple Vice Provost for Research Michele Masucci of the facility’s soft launch; the official ribbon-cutting was on January 30.

Before students from across Temple’s many programs could begin to utilize the entrepreneurship resources now available there, the university spent several months focusing on organizing the space on the lower level of the Howard Gittis Student Center (located on Temple’s main campus at 13th Street and Montgomery Avenue). That work included getting a board of directors up and running, adopting a programmatic structure, and allowing faculty to integrate the center’s offerings and their own resources.

Temple's share of the Blackstone grant is $1.2 million. Organizers were excited by a turnout of about one hundred people for Friday’s opening ceremony. The event featured a few of the eleven new companies Temple students have formed since last fall with LaunchPad’s help.

"What the center does is provide a venue where students can take their [ideas] and get feedback on the spot from our venture coaches," explains Masucci. Student can "come with an idea in its infancy, or if they already have a business and want to grow their market share," and get tools for their next steps.

Other programming includes guest speakers, mentoring and networking with like-minded students.

The LaunchPad complements but doesn’t replace Temple’s existing business and entrepreneurship programs, and it’s unique among entrepreneurship centers on Philly campuses, because of its inclusive approach.

"What we’re really trying to do is specifically work with students who fall outside of the traditional entrepreneurship umbrella," says Masucci. That means not just catering students in business or technology, but all kinds of folks considering an independent career.

For example, Tyler School of Art "has a large number of people who may well want to be able to pursue their passion for making and creating…but they don’t necessarily have a set answer upon graduation for how to do that," explains Masucci. Another example might be students interested in an educational or nonprofit venture for social good. The LaunchPad can help.

"A lot of the traditional programs that are there for entrepreneurs are catering to people who are business majors," she adds. "What makes Launchpad unique is really there is no barrier to entry. You do not need to have formulated what comes next before you walk in the door."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michele Masucci, Temple University

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