On Campus

Entrepreneurship program opens inside Bird Library

Liam Sheehan | Asst. Photo Editor

University officials and invited guests attend a ribbon cutting ceremony of Blackstone Launchpad entrepreneurship program on the first floor of Bird Library Tuesday afternoon.

An opening ceremony for Blackstone LaunchPad, the transparent cube on the ground floor of Bird Library, was held in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons at Bird Library Tuesday afternoon.

The transparent, 625 square-foot room was constructed over Thanksgiving break last year after the university received a $900,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Fund. The room is now open to the public.

Erik Lisher, managing director in Blackstone’s Investor Relations and Business Development Group, said the program is designed to encourage young entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas, and to provide the framework, the network and the support necessary to assist in developing their business plans.

“We want to make sure that students understand entrepreneurship is a viable career option and help you build out your career and adventures and that’s what this program is all about,” he said.

At the ceremony, Chancellor Kent Syverud delivered introductory remarks after being introduced by Dean of Libraries David Seaman. Syverud said SU has a tradition of entrepreneurial spirit and teaching students to be innovative and creative.

“Innovation really has to be the pillar of our present and the future at Syracuse University,” he said.

SU is among five universities — along with Cornell University, New York University, the State University of New York at Albany and SUNY Buffalo — in New York state to take part in the Blackstone LaunchPad program. The initiative rolled out in those five universities is the largest expansion of the program to date and will be available to more than 100,000 students in New York state alone, Lisher said.


Liam Sheehan | Asst. Photo Editor
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy said representatives from Blackstone were seeking to install a LaunchPad room in a place that has the greatest foot traffic on campus — which turned out to be Bird Library.

Judy Mower, a member of SU’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Libraries Advisory Board, said housing Blackstone Launchpad in the library has a significant meaning.

“The LaunchPad sits here in Bird Library … because it is a crossroad of student life,” Mower said. “ … It is the building where everyone in the university community — from first-year (students) to professors — come together in their role as scholars.”

At the ceremony, an SU alumnus took the podium to speak about his entrepreneurial works. Patrick Ambron, CEO and co-founder of BrandYourself.com and a Class of 2009 graduate, said entrepreneurial programs such as Blackstone LaunchPad promote the exploration of entrepreneurship.

Ambron said that before he started the company in New York City, he took advantage of Syracuse Student Sandbox, a similar support program facilitating student entrepreneurship, and spent three years in Syracuse after graduating from SU to develop his business strategy.

“Had we been in another environment without resources that the university and the programs like this gave us, there’s no doubt we would have flamed out before we really began,” he said.

Followed by the 30-minute ceremony, an orange ribbon was cut to celebrate the official opening of Blackstone LaunchPad. Inside the cubic room, a dozen of student entrepreneurial works were featured.

Also at the ceremony, Liddy; Ambron; and Wiley Cerilli, co-CEO and founder of Good Uncle — a food delivery startup — who attended SU’s School of Information Studies, handed out $60,000 worth of prizes to SU students who won the CompeteCNY business plan competition.



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