Students walking past UCR sign

Blackstone LaunchPad lands at UC Riverside

A series of campus programs for undergraduates including workshops, networking events, and one-on-one mentoring will start this fall

October 17, 2019
Author: Holly Ober
October 17, 2019

Student entrepreneurs at UC Riverside received an infusion of fresh energy recently when the campus joined the LaunchPad Powered by Techstars network. 

Starting this fall, a series of campus programs for undergraduates, led by Blackstone Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mai Temraz, will be offered including workshops, networking events, and one-on-one mentoring. 

LaunchPad will also give undergraduates access to a national network of mentors and entrepreneurial workshops and conferences. In November, Temraz wil lead two student teams to LaunchPad Propel, a two-day event in New York where the students will have the opportunity to build their technical startup skills and amplify their knowledge and network. 

“We are building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at UCR, which we hope will inspire many of our own faculty and students to help develop solutions to the challenges our world faces,” said Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor for technology partnerships. 

Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by Techstars was created to stimulate campus entrepreneurship and help drive economic development in students’ local communities. LaunchPad also prepares students to enter the global workforce with a flexible, entrepreneurial mindset. 

“Being an entrepreneur is about seeing new opportunities and finding resourceful ways to achieve results,” said Gillian Wilson, senior associate vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Even if a student may not think they are interested in starting a business, the experiential learning they will gain through these programs will stand them in good stead no matter what career path they decide to pursue.”

The program has been operating at UCLA since 2014 and is now expanding to other campuses in the University of California system. The program comes to UC Riverside via a $550,000 grant, directed by Ochoa and Wilson, from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

Ochoa and her team of serial entrepreneurs, industry experts, and former executives are building on over 20 years of experience implementing innovation and entrepreneurship programs. This latest award comes on the heels of more than $17 million in external funding to UCR’s Office of Technology Partnerships, the creation of the $10 million seed capital Highlander Venture Fund, the Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept Center, or EPIC, the EXCITE dry-lab accelerator in downtown Riverside, and the opening later this month of a wet-lab incubator in UCR’s Multidisciplinary Research Building, the first of its kind in the region. To date, these programs have supported over 200 innovation teams, including 112 UCR students and faculty members through the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. 

UC Riverside students who have a business idea in mind, or who want to learn more about the broad range of entrepreneurial events available on campus are invited to email Temraz ( or visit the Creat’R Lab in the Orbach library. They can also follow the program on Twitter: @LaunchPadUCR.