Looking Back: 25 Key People, Milestones & Moments

The Blank Center celebrated its 25th Anniversary on October 24, 2023 with an all-day event that celebrated its three pillars— Startup Incubation, Startup Acceleration, and Thought Leadership.

It was also a time to reflect and honor the contributions of many different people, as well as the milestones and moments that has made the Center what it is today. Below is a special collection of 25 of those things that were a big part of the anniversary celebration, and remain a big part of the Blank Center’s history.

In 1978, Babson establishes its first center for entrepreneurship, originally called the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Entrepreneurial Studies Department
Founded in 1981, Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) is considered by many to be the premier entrepreneurship research conference in the world.
Business Competition
Babson was the first academic institution to create business plan competitions, introducing an undergraduate competition in 1984 and an MBA competition in 1987.
Professor Emeritus William D. Bygrave

William D. Bygrave

Among his many contributions and deep impact, Entrepreneurship Professor Emeritus William D. Bygrave served as the original director of the Blank Center and co-founded the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
Construction began on the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship building in 1997.
Blank Center Construction
Blank Center Airplane
The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship building was dedicated on October 24, 1998. The building’s exhibition hall included displays about entrepreneurial ventures including Home Depot, Virgin Atlantic, and L.L. Bean.
In 1998, the Blank Center opened the first Business Development Hatchery for Babson student entrepreneurs. Today, the Undergraduate Hatchery is located in Coleman Hall and the Graduate Hatchery is located on the ground floor of Olin Hall.
Professor Emeritus Jeffry A. Timmons

Jeffry A. Timmons

Entrepreneurship Professor Emeritus Jeffry A. Timmons left a lasting imprint on the world of entrepreneurship education and research: He launched the first-of-its-kind Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators and authored New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the world’s foremost study on entrepreneurship, was launched in 1999 as a joint venture of Babson College and the London Business School.
Babson Seed Fund
Established in 1999 to provide early-stage seed funding to Babson student entrepreneurs, the Babson College Seed Fund made its first grants in 2000.
Andrew “Zach” Zacharakis

Andrew “Zach” Zacharakis

Entrepreneurship Professor Zacharakis has taught at Babson since 1998 and has served as director of BCERC since 2006.
Rocket Pitch, Babson’s signature, fast-paced pitch event, debuted in 2000.

Rocket Pitch

Professor Donna Kelley

Donna Kelley

Entrepreneurship Professor Donna Kelley P’24 has made an immeasurable impact on global entrepreneurship research, serving on the oversight board of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor since 2007 and co-authoring 29 GEM reports.
Summer Venture Program
The Blank Center’s intensive Summer Venture Program accelerator began in 2009.
Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA'92, PhD, President of Babson College
Among his many past and present influential roles at Babson, President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD directed the Blank Center, grew initiatives including the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and Rocket Pitch, and continues to impact the center with his strategic vision.
The Babson Venture Accelerator Program launched in 2010 and was renamed the John E. and Alice L. Butler Venture Accelerator Program in 2011.
Butler Venture Accelerator
Today, the John E. and Alice L. Butler Launch Pad provides an ecosystem where participants live and breathe entrepreneurship.
B.E.T.A. Challenge
Leveraging a legacy of business plan competitions, the Blank Center introduced the B.E.T.A. Challenge in 2012 as a uniquely Babson competition focusing on action, momentum, and milestones.
Candida Brush P’14

Candida Brush P’14

Entrepreneurship Professor Candida Brush P’14 is a highly accomplished entrepreneurship research pioneer, educator, and Babson leader. She served as Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership and Department Chair of Entrepreneurship at Babson.
Summer Venture Program 50 on Fire
The Summer Venture Program was recognized regionally as the category winner for education 50 on Fire by BostInno in 2017.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor team
In October 2019, the U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor team at Babson celebrated 20 years of research and collaboration and the legacy of GEM at Babson.
Andrew Corbett

Andrew Corbett

Entrepreneurship Professor Andrew Corbett is the Faculty Director for the Butler Institute for Free Enterprise through Entrepreneurship, where he builds programming and research that examines the intersection of entrepreneurship and macro-level policy issues.
Butler Institute Launch
The Butler Institute for Free Enterprise Through Entrepreneurship was officially launched in February 2020 with a fireside chat with Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars.
The Blank Center won the prestigious Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award at the 2022 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers conference. The Blank Center also won the award in 2002, becoming one of just a handful of entrepreneurship centers to earn the GCEC honor multiple times in the 23-year history of the award.
Butler Institute Action Tank
The Butler Institute for Free Enterprise Through Entrepreneurship held its inaugural action tank in October 2022.
Heidi Neck

Heidi Neck

Professor Heidi Neck is the Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies. She is the Academic Director of the Babson Academy – a dedicated unit within Babson that inspires change in the way universities, specifically their faculty and students, teach and learn entrepreneurship and the Faculty Director of the Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators.