Private equity investment firm Blackstone said Friday that it is expanding its university entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, to Southern California. Blackstone's charity arm, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, runs the program, which aims to introduce entrepreneurship as a "viable career option" to university studnts, across five other parts of the country.
Blackstone said it is supplying a $3.5M grant, to be given to a partnership including UCLA, UC Irvine, USC, and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), to connect university students with a network of venture coaches. The new effort is open to students in any major.
According to the BLackstone Charitable Foundation, it believes its efforts have the potential to generate some 1,400 new ventures in California over the next five years. The program was originally developed at the University of Miami in 2008, and asks would-be student entrepreneurs to submit a profile of themself; fill out a "venture assessment form" about their new business concept; helps connect those students with individual consultations with staff; and then eventually ties those entrepreneurs into local business leaders to help them move the idea along.