On Thursday, September 26, the University of Central Florida (UCF) will open the new Blackstone LaunchPad at UCF. The acclaimed and innovative  program provides students with a network of venture coaches and entrepreneurial support to transform ideas into viable companies. The program, made possible by a $1.4 million grant by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, is open to all students, regardless of age or field of study.

“As America’s leading partnership university, UCF is proud to participate in an exciting new alliance to launch the next generation of Florida’s entrepreneurs. This effort will greatly benefit our students and enhance the economic prosperity of our community, which is good news for all of Central Florida,” said UCF President John Hitt at the LaunchPad announcement event in March of 2013.

UCF is the tenth school in the country to launch the program, and the second in Florida. Based on a successful program developed by the University of Miami and expanded by Blackstone over the country, the Blackstone LaunchPad is an innovative program that treats entrepreneurship as a viable career path. The Blackstone LaunchPad at UM has created 100 startup ventures and engaged nearly 2,000 participants since its inception.

“Central Florida is an ideal region for a Blackstone LaunchPad,” states Cameron Ford, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and director of the Blackstone LaunchPad.  This is due in large part to our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, where talent is abundant and a strong set of mature support services are already in place.”

Located in the UCF Student Union, the LaunchPad is situated at the center of campus and is easily accessible to all students. For more information, visit ucf.thelaunchpad.org.