First annual Thrive Together Fair to be held on April 15

Syracuse University student organization Thrive at SU and SU’s Student Association invites students, faculty, and the community to attend the campus’ first annual Thrive Together Fair on Saturday, April 15 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Manley Field House.

Join Thrive at SU and other student organizations in celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of Syracuse through traditional performances, engaging activities, and a variety of delicious food.

All proceeds from the event will support Interfaith Works’ Center for New Americans, which resettles and integrates refugee families into the Syracuse community. Following recent policy changes, the center has seen their funding for these efforts drastically reduced.

The event will also invite speakers to discuss their stories surrounding the New American experience and life in Syracuse. Mayor Stephanie Miner and Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly will each be in attendance and delivering remarks.

Dinner will be provided by local venues who are donating a variety of cuisines from around the world. Parking is available in the Manley Field House south lot on South Campus.

Tickets for the event cost $7 each and can be purchased at the Schine Student Center Box Office or online at

As the collegiate-level affiliate of Thrive Projects, a nonprofit that works with underserved and vulnerable communities around the world, Thrive at SU firmly believes that the strength of Syracuse is rooted in both, its diversity and sense of togetherness. Thrive at SU recognizes the important role that refugees play in the community and hopes that this event “serves as a reminder that we are at our best when we face times of struggle together.”

For more information on the event, contact Amanda Chou at

2017 Compete CNY – iPrize winners announced

Winners have been announced for the 2017 Compete CNY – iPrize competition, held March 24 at Syracuse University. The event was coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and hosted by Syracuse University Libraries.

Open to all Central New York colleges and universities, Compete CNY was the regional qualifier for the 2017 New York State Business Plan Competition. Winners will advance to the statewide competition in Albany on April 28, and compete for a $100,000 statewide grand prize.

Syracuse University students also competed for the iPrize and the opportunity to win $40,000 provided by the iSchool through funding from the Raymond von Dran (RvD) Endowment Fund. The RvD Fund was established to honor the memory of the former iSchool dean, who helped students bring their ideas to life through the spirit of entrepreneurship. Gisela von Dran, his widow, helped award the prizes at this year’s event. She was joined by serial entrepreneur Wiley Cerilli, a former iSchool student who is co-founder of Good Uncle.

Compete CNY winners advancing to the NYS Business Plan Competition are:

Social entrepreneurship/non-profit

  • Thrive Project, SU, First place
  • Shine the Magazine, SU, Second place

Clean Technology

  • Spark Charge, SU, First place
  • VFFA, SU, Second place


  • IIID, SU, First place
  • Origin Story, SU, Second place


  • Invergo, SU, First place
  • Schwab’s Cider Port, Wells College, Second place

Advanced Technology

  • ModoScript, SU, First place
  • SkyWorks, SU, Second place


  • PowerSpike, SU, First Place
  • Busie, SU, Second place

Syracuse University iPrize winners receiving cash prizes are:

Social entrepreneurship/non-profit

  • Thrive Project, $3,000
  • Shine the Magazine,$1,500
  • North Country Meeting House, $750
  • Your World Apparel, $750

Clean Technology

  • Spark Charge, $4,500
  • VFFA, $500


  • IIID, SU, $6,000
  • Origin Story, $1,000
  • Presently, $500


  • Invergo, $3,500
  • CeeRide, $1,500
  • Miruku, $1,500

Advanced Technology

  • ModoScript, $3,500
  • SkyWorks, $1,500


  • PowerSpike, $5,000
  • Busie, $3,000
  • PairCampus $1,000
  • FreshU, $500
  • Ravel, $500

The New York Business Plan Competition is a statewide collegiate business plan competition, with participants from 70 public and private colleges and universities. Since 2010, more than 2,100 teams have pitched their ideas and ventures to venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, other public and private investors and entrepreneurs. More than $2,300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded throughout New York State, making it an important source of seed capital for student startups. Learn more about the New York State Business Plan Competition.

Syracuse’s InVenture prize winner, Kate Beckman of Fresh U, advances to ACC finals

Kate Beckman, founder of Fresh U, will represent Syracuse University at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) InVenture Prize Competition on March 30-31 at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The ACC is comprised of 15 member universities that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s Division I. The ACC InVenture Prize brings that spirited collegiate competition to the “turf” of ideas, pitting the best innovators and entrepreneurs from each campus against each other, Shark Tank-style, before a live audience and panel of expert judges.  The first-place team will be awarded $15,000 to continue development of their invention or product. The second-place team will receive $10,000, and $5,000 will be awarded to the fans’ favorite invention, as determined by online and text voting during the televised final round.

Fresh U will compete in a preliminary round on March 30 in Atlanta, facing off against teams from Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State, University of Notre Dame, University of Louisville, University of Miami, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, and Wake Forest University. The winners of that round will participate in the finals on March 31, which will be broadcast on PBS Television and streamed online.

“This competition was an invaluable opportunity for our students to stretch their entrepreneurial skills while competing for the chance to showcase their great ideas at the national level,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly. “Congratulations to the winning team of Fresh U, who I know will represent Syracuse proudly and well at the finals. And congratulations to all the students who participated. Their innovative ideas and creative vision made for a very exciting competition.”

The Fresh U team is led by Kate Beckman, a senior at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Fresh U is a national online publication geared toward college freshmen. Since launching in June 2015, Fresh U has grown to a staff of 300 contributing writers on over 100 campuses and has a media partnership with Teen Vogue. The publication’s content ranges from the new experiences of college life to surfacing local news stories on college campuses using its network of contributing writers. The publication offers brands the opportunity to reach a group of newly minted, Gen-Z consumers who are making hundreds of purchasing decisions as they prepare for college life. Founder Kate Beckman is supported by a team that includes Matt Gehring, Mia Cole, Katie Czerwinski, Amanda Morrison, Sabrina Sooknanan, and advisors Sean Branagan and Melissa Chessher.

“I’m so excited to represent Syracuse while pitching my startup on a national stage. The ACC competition is a great opportunity to meet student founders from other schools, while also gaining real-life experience pitching my company. I think it will be a challenging and rewarding opportunity,” said Kate Beckman, founder of Fresh U.

Beckman represented Syracuse University last March at Student Startup Madness at SXSW. She is an accomplished public speaker on content development and marketing trends related to Gen Z, and has been invited back to Austin this March to participate in a national panel at a pre-SXSW event.

The InVenture Prize attracted 21 teams for the Syracuse University qualifier, with novel ideas for products, services and technologies. Seven semi-finalist teams were selected to pitch in a juried round: Comfortwear, Fresh U, IIID, ModoScript, Ravel, Savofair, and SORB.  A panel of cross-campus judges then selected two finalists, Beckman and Fresh U, and Jack Phillips, founder of IIID, for an “audience choice” face-off. In an exciting final pitch round, a live audience selected Beckman in a close vote that added to the spirit of the competition.

IIID, founded by fifth-year architecture student Jack Phillips, creates 3D printed architectural applications using shale and clay powder for historic replication and preservation projects. The 3D printing process brings detail, precision and affordability to the construction and building materials industry, especially for the restoration of architecturally significant buildings with ornate elements that can typically only be reproduced by skilled artisans using hand tooling.  Phillips has achieved proof of concept, is working on his patent strategy, and collaborating with preservation architects, engineers and historic preservation organizations.

“I’m delighted that the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries was able to coordinate this campus-wide competition and help to prepare the competitors” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, “and impressed by the very strong slate of student entrepreneurial endeavors who entered from Syracuse University.”

NYS Business Plan Competition comes to Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University

The Blackstone LaunchPad and Syracuse Libraries are pleased to host CompeteCNY, the regional qualifying event for the 2017 New York State Business Plan Competition.

The event will be held on March 24 at Bird Library. Regional winners will advance to the April 28 statewide competition in Albany, which features a $100,000 grand prize.

CompeteCNY is open to all undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in a Central New York college or university. In addition to Syracuse University, these include SUNY ESF, SUNY Upstate, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, Onondaga Community College, Cayuga Community College, LeMoyne College, Colgate University, Wells College, and Cazenovia College.

While all students can compete for the $100,000 statewide grand prize, only Syracuse University students can vie for an additional $40,000 provided through the iPrize, supported by The Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the School of Information Studies (iSchool).

Student teams can submit an application for one of the following categories:

  • Information Technology/Software
  • Clean Technology
  • Advanced Technology
  • Products
  • Services
  • Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit.

Teams are required to indicate which category they are applying for on the application and provide a one sentence explanation of why they feel they should compete in the category that they are applying in. Details about these categories are available on the Compete CNY website, and the application is available online

Check-in is 2:30 p.m. at the Blackstone LaunchPad and pitches will be held in various locations in Bird Library. Reception and awards ceremony will be in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons from 5 – 6 p.m., when two winning teams in each of the six categories will be announced.

Regional winners will go on to compete for $100,000 state grand prize on April 28 in Albany against other regional semi-final winners from New York’s nine other Regional Economic Development Council districts – Capital Region, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island.

Details, competition rules, and the CNY application are available through the Compete CNY website, with more information about the statewide competition available on the NYBP website.  A template is provided for presentations. Applications for CompeteCNY close March 15.

For more information, contact:



The Soul of Central New York: book talk and signing on February 24 with author Sean Kirst

kirst-author-photoLocal author Sean Kirst will discuss his new book, The Soul of Central New York: Syracuse Stories at an event on Friday, February 24 from 3 – 5 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (Room 114) of Bird Library. Co-hosted by Syracuse University Libraries, Syracuse University Press, and the Blackstone LaunchPad, the event will feature remarks by the author, a reception, and book signing.

In his newest book, published by Syracuse University Press, nationally-celebrated columnist Sean Kirst offers a deeply moving collection of stories about the struggles and triumphs of the everyday men and women who define Syracuse. A group of strangers risk their lives along the New York State Thruway to save a soldier from a burning truck. The true story of how the number 44 rose to prominence at Syracuse University, as told by football legend Jim Brown. The beautiful yet tragic connection between Vice President Joseph Biden and Syracuse. The impossible account of how Eric Carle, one of the world’s great children’s authors, found his way to a childhood friend through a photograph taken in Syracuse more than eighty years ago.

These and other stories can be found in The Soul of Central New York, a collection of Kirst’s columns that spans almost a quarter-century. During his long career as a writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard, Kirst won some of the most prestigious honors in journalism, including the Ernie Pyle Award, given annually to one American writer who best captures the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. For more information, contact Linda Dickerson Hartsock at