The Blackstone Group LP’s (NYSE:BX) charitable arm is giving $3.6 million to create a new entrepreneurial network in North Carolina’s Research Triangle intended to emulate similar networks in Boston and Silicon Valley.
In announcing the gift, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation said the new five-year initiative would help the Triangle become headquarters for America’s next high-growth potential area to create new jobs.
The program will identify and mentor 30 startup teams for each of the program’s five years and link those startups with serial entrepreneurs, what the foundation calls “Master Entrepreneurs.”
The Blackstone foundation did not say that the program is specific to any area of entrepreneurship, though the Triangle remains a hotbed for new, innovative technologies being developed in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and health care. The foundation said that over the next 10 years, the new Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network has the potential to create 17,000 jobs, attract more than $800 million in seed, startup and expansion capital, and generate more than $4 billion in revenue.
“The Blackstone Charitable Foundation views support for entrepreneurship as a critically important element in meaningfully building jobs and improving the United States’ growth and competitiveness,” Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman said in prepared remarks.
“We are pleased to join this partnership to develop what will be a dynamic regional network capable of applying the operational expertise and coordinated, laser-like focus on bringing ideas to market,” he said.
The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network will work to identify marketable innovations out of local universities and regional startups with the greatest potential to become high-growth companies. Master Entrepreneurs will mentor the local entrepreneurs in building their companies.
Partners in the initiative include Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Durham, N.C.-based entrepreneurial group CED will also be part of the effort.
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s grant comes as part of its entrepreneurship initiative. The foundation has changed its mission and committed $50 million to fostering entrepreneurship in places with high unemployment but also high potential for entrepreneurship. The foundation’s first commitment was made last year with a $2 million grant in Michigan creating “Blackstone LaunchPad” at Wayne State University and Walsh College.