Enter Blackstone LaunchPad’s ‘Solve a Campus Problem’ Challenge

Now open in Bird Library, the Blackstone LaunchPad invites faculty, staff, students and alumni to come by and connect. The LaunchPad places entrepreneurship at the center of academic life, incorporating it into the resource network of the Syracuse University Libraries. The Blackstone LaunchPad program complements the University’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives, connecting them to a national and global network that supports aspiring entrepreneurs.

Blackstone-LaunchPad-SU-logo-2As one of its first projects, the LaunchPad is participating in a global “Solve a Campus Problem” Challenge, open through April 8. Sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network, the competition encourages students to form teams, identify campus challenges and propose innovative solutions. Students from Blackstone LaunchPad programs around the world will compete for cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 provided by Blackstone.

“Solve a Campus Challenge” is an opportunity for students across disciplines to learn about entrepreneurship through a simple problem-solving exercise. It is also a chance for Syracuse University students to be part of the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network and meet students from other campuses to work on ideas that promote cross-campus collaboration opportunities.

Student teams of two to four members are invited to create a one-minute video outlining a campus problem and a feasible solution. Each team is required to meet with the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad campus team to review videos before they go live. To make it even easier to enter, videos are welcome from students who are tackling a student/campus challenge as part of their academic program, or expanding upon initiatives such as videos submitted through the Fast Forward Student Competition. The deadline for submitting videos is April 8.

There are three rounds of voting: campus public voting will take place from April 11-15, followed by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network public voting from April 18-22. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will select the top three global winners in the third round, from April 25-29.

Interested students should visit http://Blackstonelaunchpad.org to learn more, and schedule a coaching appointment with the Blackstone LaunchPad Syracuse University campus team in Bird Library.  Appointments can be made by e-mailing LaunchPad@syr.edu

Linda Dickerson Hartsock named Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at University

Dean of Libraries David Seaman has announced the appointment of Linda Dickerson Hartsock as executive director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, starting on March 16. Hartsock was previously director of the University’s Connective Corridor in the Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development.

Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students,

Linda Dickerson Hartsock
Linda Dickerson Hartsock

alumni, staff and faculty, offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It is modeled on a successful program originated at the University of Miami and further expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone LaunchPad is co-funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Syracuse University.

Hartsock has fashioned a distinguished career in economic development and innovation. She has held leadership positions in a number of regional organizations, including vice president for Innovation and Technology at CenterState Corp. for Economic Opportunity (CEO); executive director of the Clean Tech Center, an award-winning NYSERDA-funded clean energy incubator, and a joint appointment with the SyracuseCoE, a New York State Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. She was previously a senior member of the state’s economic development team, serving as Central New York Regional Director for Empire State Development Corp. and president and CEO of Cortland County Industrial Development Agency. A native of the Hudson Valley, Hartsock was on the faculty of Marist College. She serves on a number of regional nonprofit boards, and is past chair of the Central New York Community Foundation.

Speaking of the appointment, Dean David Seaman, Principal Investigator for the Blackstone Charitable Foundation grant, said: “I am delighted that Linda is joining us in Bird Library as executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.”  Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy adds that “Her considerable experience in economic development and the startup community is a perfect fit for this new initiative, especially her hands-on work in support of start-up ventures in the Student Sandbox. We look forward to the new connections and projects that will result from her involvement with student entrepreneurs and mentors in the region.”

“Syracuse University has a very robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the Blackstone LaunchPad initiative will help enhance that strong foundation through expanded partnerships,” notes Hartsock. “I look forward to joining the team and supporting faculty, student, staff and alumni innovation through this exciting program.”

Entrepreneurship program coming to Syracuse University

The University has received a $900,000 grant from Blackstone Charitable Foundation for the launch of a new campus entrepreneurship program.

The program, Blackstone Launchpad, was announced today by Blackstone Charitable Foundation as part
blackstoneof the largest expansion of its campus program. Syracuse is one of five New York universities—Cornell University, New York University, University at Albany and University at Buffalo—to take part in the three-year $4.5 million grant that will establish partnerships among the five universities and introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option for all students. The initiative will provide more than 180,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.

“Syracuse University has a proud entrepreneurial spirit.  It is a pillar of our present and of our future endeavors,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “The Blackstone Launchpad program will allow us to align all our entrepreneurial efforts within our schools and colleges. Additionally, the grant will help us further develop innovative opportunities for our students, and help us enhance the entrepreneurial efforts in Central New York.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer speaks during the New York City Blackstone Launchpad event announcing the new student entrepreneurship program for five universities, including Syracuse.

The announcement about this new initiative was made Friday, Oct. 23, at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and was attended by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Blackstone President and Chief Operating Officer Tony James, who delivered remarks. Presidents and chancellors from each of the five campuses delivered video messages, as did other local New York politicians.

In attendance from Syracuse University were Interim Vice Chancellor Liz Liddy, VPA Professor and Director of the School of Design James WR Fathers,  Dean of Libraries David Seaman and Newhouse sophomore Julia Haber.

“The entrepreneurial spirit permeates the entire Syracuse University campus and the Blackstone Launchpad will allow greater networking and collaboration among students. The program will allow for the richest of exchanges of innovative ideas across our full student population and bring entrepreneurship into the greater community,” says Liddy.

The impetus to bring Blackstone Launchpad to the University was spearheaded by a multidisciplinary team including both Liddy and Fathers as well as representatives from across campus.

Later this year, the University will open a new space in Bird Library forthe Blackstone Launchpad program in order to help align entrepreneurial efforts of students, while connecting them with mentors and collaborators.

Blackstone Launchpad has become global in nature and has a presence at 21 campuses throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom. All the campuses are linked and allow students to draw ideas and best practices from participating colleges and universities. Student entrepreneurs in New York will have access to an international community of more than 500,000 peers and expert advisers. Funding for this program is made possible through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which seeks to support the development of ecosystems for aspiring entrepreneurs creating the high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth.

Blackstone Charitable Foundation was recognized by President Obama’s “Startup America” Initiative and pledged to expand the program to five new regions over five years. That pledge was fulfilled by the program’s earlier expansion to California.