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Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network names Robert Creeden first executive director

10/4/2011

PRESS RELEASE DISTRIBUTED BY THE BLACKSTONE ENTREPRENEURS NETWORK

Nationwide Search Draws Experienced Entrepreneurial Leader to North Carolina

Oct. 4, 2011 – The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network has named Robert Creeden, founder and managing partner of Partners Innovation Fund (PIF) of Boston, as its first executive director.  Creeden brings 30 years of experience to North Carolina’s Research Triangle.  He will coordinate a major effort to draw marketable innovation out of the Triangle and its universities.  He will lead the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in achieving it mission of boosting the region’s economy and helping turn the Triangle into one of the country’s top entrepreneurial hubs.

A consortium of major Triangle universities and the Durham-based Council for Entrepreneurial Development received $3.6 million from The Blackstone Charitable Foundation earlier this year.  Partners in the project include: Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. Elected leaders from across the state attended the April 25, 2011 launch event and praised the program for its innovative approach.

Creeden was selected through a highly competitive national search. Together with the program’s partners, he will help identify and harness the talent and experience of area entrepreneurs who will scour the region for the most promising startup teams on and off campuses. These successful “master entrepreneurs” will work with selected high potential startups to build the next generation of growth companies in North Carolina. The ultimate goal of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network is to help the region become an engine for job creation and economic growth.

Creeden has a proven track record of identifying and commercializing early-stage technologies and raising seed funds, selection committee members said. These skills, combined with his expertise in building entrepreneurial organizations and his ability to leverage extensive new networks, set him apart from other applicants. He comes to North Carolina from Boston, which is second only to Silicon Valley in its density of startup companies and venture capital. He will begin work in North Carolina in late October. 

Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at UNC-Chapel Hill and a member of the selection committee, said: “Bob’s phenomenal success with PIF, his extensive management record and his ability to bring new connections and networks to North Carolina was a compelling combination.” The selection committee included representatives from each of the partner organizations. 

Amy Stursberg, director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation said, “We are pleased to have attracted such a high-caliber group of applicants and thrilled that Bob Creeden is willing to apply his talents and experience to lead the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in supercharging the Triangle’s economy.”

For Creeden, leading the Blackstone Network is a rare opportunity to accelerate entrepreneurial activity across sectors in an area rich in talent and resources. “I am very excited to be leading the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network,” he said. “The depth and breadth of innovative technologies being conceived and developed by regional players and the university partners, combined with the region’s strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, are critical elements for achieving the goal of being a top entrepreneurial hub in the country.”

Steve Nelson, an RTP-based venture capitalist and co-chair of the first ever North Carolina Innovation Council, said the Network will play a “critical role” in mining the best early-stage ideas. 

“Creating and extending diverse, value-added networks is paramount to success for innovation and entrepreneurial ventures,” he said.  “Early stage or seed capital to get ideas off the ground and accelerate their growth is the rocket fuel to make these dreams a reality.  The exciting opportunity with this terrific initiative and collaboration is to launch ventures with unbounded upside, ones that can transform our RTP region, state and nation, and even change the world.” 

How it works:

The Blackstone Network draws from the regional pool of veteran master entrepreneurs to identify marketable innovations out of area universities and regional startups with the greatest potential to become high-growth companies. Master entrepreneurs then mentor these local entrepreneurs in company-building and provide access to the broader Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. This greater network includes sector experts, venture coaches, angel investors and administrative and marketing support. The program aims to identify and mentor 30 start-up teams each year, for a total of 150 over its five-year span. For more information on the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network visit www.blackstoneentrepreneurs.org.

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation:

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of The Blackstone Group’s Initial Public Offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see

http://www.blackstone.com/CharitableFoundation.htm.