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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.

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Published October 4, 2011.