A cup of coffee can be the catalyst that sparks a new business relationship or brings people together to find solutions to complex problems.

This is the idea behind 1 Million Cups, a national weekly entrepreneurial and pitch program designed to connect, engage and educate entrepreneurs.

Starting April 27, the Louisiana Business & Technology Center at LSU and the Kauffman Foundation will launch the program in Baton Rouge for the first time with a gathering set to take place from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Goodwood Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Entrepreneurs, funders, innovators and other community members are invited to attend for free.

“Igniting the Baton Rouge entrepreneurial community with regularly scheduled entrepreneurial events will drive long-term impact on the business community,” says Matthew Wiggins, of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center. “In addition, joining an ever growing national community of over 86 other cities involved really gives credence to the power of the 1 Million Cups process.”

1 Million Cups has a consistent model in every city it considers a home, according to a news release. Two early-stage startups present their companies to an audience of entrepreneurs, peers and advisers during a six minute presentation. The presentation is followed by a 20 minute question and answer session with the audience.

Feedback also is offered to a startup’s founders via an audience survey as well as from local organizers in their city. The program strives to engage startups in a honest, supportive and neutral atmosphere.

1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri, and has now expanded to dozens of communities throughout the United States. The program is administered by the Kauffman Laboratories for Enterprise Creation and was developed by Nate Olsen, a specialist in entrepreneurship, and Cameron Cushman, a manage of entrepreneurship, both of Kauffman.

In each city, local support organizations and entrepreneurs drive the program. 1 Million Cups volunteer leadership positions in Baton Rouge are being filled by people who represent the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Hitlights, SSA Consultants, the Louisiana Technology Park and the LBTC.

In a statement, Charles D’Agostino, LSU Innovation Park executive director, says the new program fits with the entrepreneurial programs developed at the park.

“We have a vast following of serial entrepreneurs and innovators that will be plugged into this program,” he says.