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Translating ideas: Techstars partnership to boost UM’s entrepreneurial standing

Paul Gladen, director of Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, said the opportunities afforded by the new partnership with Techstars are generally rare, especially in college environments. (Missoula Current file photo)

A new partnership with the startup accelerator Techstars and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation could be a boon to student entrepreneurs at the University of Montana.

Announced this month, the partnership will enable UM to leverage Techstars’ offerings, giving local entrepreneurs a competitive advantage, according to school President Seth Bodner.

“I’m excited about the potential for this partnership between the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars to help our students translate their ideas and passions into ventures that help solve complex, interdisciplinary, global challenges,” Bodner said.

UM claims one of just 20 Blackstone LaunchPads across the globe.

Paul Gladen, director of the university’s LaunchPad chapter, said the opportunities afforded by the new partnership are generally rare, especially in college environments.

The new agreement will help expand the expertise and resources available to student entrepreneurs, he said.

“Techstars’ impact will be tangible as Montana’s innovative leaders, at student and professional levels, continue to emerge during this exciting, upward trajectory,” Gladen said. “This truly affirms UM as a place where innovation and entrepreneurship happen.”

As Missoula’s startup ecosystem continues to grow, Gladen said, partnerships like that announced at the Texas unveiling will become critical to further growth.

Missoula ranks ninth-highest in startup rates among 394 areas in the U.S., according to a report released last year by the Kauffman Foundation.

“The partnership between the Blackstone LaunchPads and Techstars is a phenomenal boost to Montana’s entrepreneurs, and will serve to elevate their access to best-in-class mentorship, as well as other support resources, said Ken Fichtler, the chief business development officer at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.