A new partnership between the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars, a global entrepreneurial network and start-up accelerator, will offer additional mentorship, start-up support and networking opportunities for students at the University of Central Florida. The two companies announced the affiliation with the College of Business on March 7 at SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas.

Through this partnership, the UCF Blackstone LaunchPad will gain access to Techstars’ network of more than 10,000 mentors, worldwide entrepreneurial events, and content and startup services. UCF Blackstone LaunchPad director Cameron Ford called the partnership a game-changing opportunity for UCF.

“Techstars has built a global community of innovators, entrepreneurs and investors that has achieved remarkable success launching companies and enriching communities,” Ford said. “Our partnerships with Blackstone and Techstars will offer UCF students unrivaled access to expert advising, startup resources, and experiential learning opportunities to support their personal development and the development of their new venture ideas.”

The UCF Blackstone LaunchPad welcomes hundreds of students from across campus each year, accepting more than 3,000 appointments and launching dozens of start-ups annually. UCF student and Capacitech Energy CEO Joe Sleppy advises other students at the Blackstone LaunchPad and used its resources to launch his business.

“This partnership with Techstars is a major added value to UCF’s ecosystem and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership,” said Sleppy, who won UCF’s version of Shark Tank – the Joust New Venture Competition with his business idea in 2016. “The resources that will be shared are internationally desired, will give UCF students a major advantage, and will help them execute their visions.”