Mary Carty, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway with student intern and founder of Stock School Jason Walsh and Alisha Slye, Global Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation.
Feb 18 2016 Posted: 09:00 GMT

€2million investment to show entrepreneurship is viable career path for students

NUI Galway today launched Blackstone LaunchPad, a multidisciplinary experiential learning programme that supports a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, by providing tools for student entrepreneurs to turn ideas into viable businesses. This is the first Global Launch for the Blackstone programme outside of the US.

Blackstone Launchpad supports student entrepreneurs with individual coaching, seminars and training related to building a business. Students will write business plans, complete financial analyses, and design marketing campaigns. In addition, students will be teamed up with external mentors to launch commercial ventures.

Speaking at the launch, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “At NUI Galway we believe we have a duty to society to prepare our students for the world of work. We pride ourselves on being a university focused on ‘Real Learning’ and we don’t assume that our graduates will be able to rely on the traditional routes to employment. We work to equip our students with the skills to shape their own future and entrepreneurship is such a skill. Blackstone LaunchPad puts innovation firmly on our students’ agenda in a fresh new way.

NUI Galway is proud to be the first university outside the US to host the Blackstone LaunchPad initiative. We’re grateful to Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Galway University Foundation for their support in making this possible.”

Alan Kerr, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone, said: “We could not be more pleased to bring Blackstone LaunchPad, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation's signature campus entrepreneurship program, to NUI Galway as well as to Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. This program can have a considerable impact on campus and across Ireland by providing students with the entrepreneurial resources and mentorship they need to take their ideas to the next level, and we look forward to seeing a positive impact in the years ahead.”

Global Connections

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced the first international expansion of its campus entrepreneurship programme, Blackstone LaunchPad, to Ireland in July 2015. Ireland becomes the seventh Blackstone LaunchPad region and its first international one, after Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, and California.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s three-year, €2 million grant will establish a partnership with NUI Galway and other campuses, to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide over 50,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.

Blackstone LaunchPad will connect NUI Galway’s 17,000 students to other campuses in Ireland and the USA, the business community, and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures students to succeed as entrepreneurs. Funding for the programme is provided by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Galway University Foundation.

Mary Carty, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “To achieve success students need to believe in their potential. Blackstone LaunchPad provides a fantastic opportunity for all students to participate; to test their ideas, to build a network of like-minded peers and to build their confidence and skills all while undertaking their studies here at NUI Galway. The cross-disciplinary nature of the programme is a real asset; as research shows, companies with diverse teams produce better products and are more profitable.”

Mary herself is passionate about women in STEM and is an advisor to STEMettes, which builds interest in STEM in young women. Last year she co-founded the first incubator for young women in STEM in the world, the London-based Outbox Incubator, which worked with 115 girls from six countries. 35 companies were established on the programme. Mary brings a decade of experience working in the technology and startup space, founding two multi-award winning technology startups and was a BAFTA Interactive finalist. She has worked extensively across the public, private and non-profit sectors as an advisor, program developer, keynote speaker and lecturer in Ireland, the UK and Scandinavia. 

Experiential Entrepreneurship - the student interns

Edel Browne is the founder of Free Feet, a multi-award winning medical device designed to treat gait freezing for people with Parkinson's disease and has recently been appointed as Student Entrepreneur in Residence in Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. She is a past participant on the STEMette's Outbox Incubator in London, a founding member of the Digital Youth Council in Ireland, and a global youth ambassador for AAT (America’s Amazing Teens). Edel is currently studying for a BSc in biotechnology at NUI Galway, and is a past best individual award winner at the BT Young Scientist competition in 2013.

Jason Walsh is a Bachelor of Commerce student, Jason is the founder of Stock School, offering free informative sessions to students about the financial markets, trading and investments.

Between 2012 and 2013, Jason tracked and logged the Dow Jones Industrial Average intraday activity every day for the entire year. Tracking the Dow allowed him to discover and study the mechanisms of financial market behaviour. He presented this research at the first Undergraduate Research Conference in NUI Galway in March 2015. Stock School eventually found its home as part of the NUI Galway Entrepreneurship Society and is now seeing 130-150 students attend per session. Interestingly the sessions have been mostly balanced with a strong representation in genders. Jason comments on how welcome it is to see as many of his female counterparts as to his male counterparts showing such a keen interest in trading and investing.

Damien English TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, said: “I send congratulations and best wishes to all involved in the launch today at NUI Galway of Ireland’s first Blackstone LaunchPad. This initiative - the first of its kind outside the US - is a very timely project in Ireland’s economic development. Ireland has a vision of a stable and prosperous economy. In 2012, Government’s Action Plan for Jobs mapped out the many steps necessary to support enterprise in the creation and maintenance of jobs. I am delighted to say we are now seeing real results in the Irish economy.

As start-ups and entrepreneurs account for over two thirds of all new jobs, the Government is committed to ensuring the framework conditions are in place for new businesses to start, scale and succeed.

By encouraging and training the next generation of entrepreneurs and by nurturing entrepreneurial thinking and talent, university graduates will now be empowered to become innovators; finding alternatives to the more traditional routes to employment by creating their own enterprises and jobs.”

Minister English added: “NUI Galway’s leadership in establishing Blackstone LaunchPad here on campus is a vital step to building that strong culture of innovation amongst the brightest minds and talented students who will help to create a better Ireland. NUI Galway’s approach to entrepreneurship education through Blackstone LaunchPad is a wonderful initiative and I commend the University for its vision.”

ENDS

For further information see http://www.nuigalway.ie/blackstonelaunchpad

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