The History


Funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Blackstone LaunchPad opened in September 2010 offering career guidance, resources, and advice to entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors at Wayne State University. Our primary mission is to show Wayne State University students that starting a new venture is a legitimate career path and attainable reality. The secondary mission is to encourage every Wayne State University student who wants to start a new venture - either for-profit or not for profit - to do so in Metro Detroit and thereby contribute to the economic and social growth of our region. 

Through regular individual and group consultative sessions, workshops, and networking events the Blackstone LaunchPad is strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Wayne State University and helping students and from every school, college, and campus transform innovative ideas into successful Southeast Michigan start-ups. Through partnerships with Automation Alley, the University of Miami (the original LaunchPad), and Walsh College (Blackstone LaunchPad@Walsh) we are committed to fostering the entrepreneurial community and revitalizing the economies of Midtown, Detroit and Michigan. 

The Blackstone LaunchPad Team is comprised of entrepreneurs, inventors, business professionals, and students who are committed to helping you at every stage of your entrepreneurial journey. If you would like to join The Blackstone LaunchPad team, please contact us!

University Oversight and Administration

AHMAD EZZEDDINE, Ph.D. - Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine is the Associate Vice President for Educational Outreach and International Programs at Wayne State University. In this capacity, he leads the university’s academic, global, and corporate educational outreach programs, including the university’s expansion in Macomb County.

In addition to his role as Associate VP, he was appointed Senior Associate to the President for Special Initiatives. A firm proponent of the crucial role that universities play in driving economic development, he is aggressively forging linkages with organizations in the City of Detroit and the Region and supporting community engagement and economic development initiatives. Dr. Ezzeddine brings an entrepreneurial approach to his work at the University. He shepherded new programs to Wayne State, including the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program.

Prior to his current position, he served as the Assistant Dean for Executive and Professional Development in the School of Business Administration. Under his leadership, the Professional Development Division experienced record activities and growth, surpassing levels from its entire 15-year history and becoming a self-funded operation. He has extensive experience in business development, change management and strategic planning, and has consulted with a diverse list of corporate clients including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, UAW-Ford, Compuware, and the City of Detroit.

Named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2007, Ezzeddine is committed to serving the community since his arrival to the Detroit area more than 20 years ago. He is the current Chairman of the International Visitors Council of Metropolitan Detroit. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Detroit YMCA, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Generation of Promise. Ezzeddine has a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Systems, a Master of Business Administration and a doctorate in Business and Industrial Engineering.