EVENT:  UC Irvine’s Division of Undergraduate Education will open the doors of the Antrepreneur Center. The support service for Anteater entrepreneurs is part of an affiliation with UCLA, USC and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

WHEN/WHERE:  4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at UC Irvine’s Student Center (bldg. 113, grid E8 on campus map)

INFORMATION:  Media planning to attend should contact Cathy Lawhon at 949-824-1151 or clawhon@uci.edu. Attendance and parking are complimentary for media who RSVP in advance.

BACKGROUND:  This is the final expansion of a campus entrepreneurship program called Blackstone LaunchPad already underway in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Montana. It’s modeled after a successful project developed at the University of Miami in 2008 that has generated 1,413 business proposals, created 210 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,600 participants. Regional programs established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation work together, pooling ideas and best practices from 11 campuses and giving student entrepreneurs in Southern California access to a national community of more than 350,000 peers and expert advisers.

The Antrepreneur Center will introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system. With a physical presence on each university campus, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate 500 or so new ventures in California over the next five years.

“When you nurture talent and support aspiring entrepreneurs, you foster the creation of innovations that have the ability to shift paradigms,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s chairman, CEO and co-founder. “Through Blackstone LaunchPad, students have access to the right tools to take their ideas to market and to truly become successful entrepreneurs with their ventures rooted in California, ultimately strengthening local economies.”

Funding comes from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s five-year, $50 million Entrepreneurship Initiative. Due to the early success of the program, the foundation was recognized by the White House and partnered with President Barack Obama’s Startup America Initiative. This expansion to Southern California fulfills its pledge to expand LaunchPad to five new regions over five years.