The Blackstone Group's charitable foundation announced this morning that it is committing $3.6 million to create an entrepreneur network in the Triangle.
Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of private equity firm, formally announce the five-year initiative at an event in Durham's American Tobacco Campus.
The company hopes the network will become a model for other regions.
The money will be used to create an entrepreneurial support network similar to ones that already exist in Silicon Valley and the Boston area. Partners in the project include Duke University, N.C. Central, N.C. State and UNC Chapel Hill.
Durham's Council for Entrepreneurial Development is also part of the project.
The goal of the program is to mentor 30 start-ups a year and connect them with other serial entrepreneurs.
The network will have an executive director and 15 "master entrepreneurs" who will work with the most promising start-ups.
Numerous state politicians and university officials joined Schwarzman this morning, including Gov. Bev Perdue, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, Duke President Richard Brodhead, NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms, NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson and UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp.
While they all praised the Triangle's talent pool and local universities, they argued that the region needs to do a much better job at commercializing the work being done on academic campuses.
Blackstone claims its network has the potential to create more than 17,000 jobs over 5-years and attract more than $800 million in capital.