Blackstone LaunchPad hosts Syracuse qualifier for the Hult Prize competition, “The Nobel Prize” for student startups

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library will host a December 11 campus qualifier for the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for the creation of new social businesses. Known as “The Nobel Prize for student startups,” the Hult Prize awards $1,000,000 in start-up funding to the team of students that develops the most innovative idea to solve one of the world’s toughest challenges.

In partnership with the United Nations, the Hult Prize hosts campus events around the world in search of the next game-changing start-up. The Hult Prize focuses on one grand challenge, inviting applicants to respond to that theme. This year’s challenge is “Harnessing the Power of Energy.”

The registration deadline for the December 11 qualifier, open to Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students, is December 4. The winner of the campus competition will advance to compete in 15 regional finals in March 2018.  One winning team from each host city will then move into an eight-week summer residency at the Hult Castle accelerator in the United Kingdom, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business.  A final round of competition will be hosted in September 2018 at the United Nations, where the winning team will be awarded the $1,000,000 prize.

Read more about the Syracuse competition and apply on-line here by December 4 »

Applicant teams will pitch their ideas on Monday, December 11 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Bird Library. They will be judged by a panel of distinguished civic entrepreneurs on their innovative approach to building a scalable, sustainable social enterprise that harnesses the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025. This year’s challenge includes six core areas ripe for transformation through energy-powered innovation, including:

  • Connectivity
  • Mobility
  • Farming, food, and agriculture
  • Water collection, storage, and transport
  • Health and the human experience
  • Education

“Energy is the lifeline of humanity. When you harness the power of energy creatively, you can change the world,” notes the Hult Prize committee. “The world has enough latent capacity for energy-powered innovation to shift the trajectory of global development. This year’s six dimensions of energy affect all of humanity.”

“Solving the world’s most pressing challenges is not just the right thing to do, it is also good business,” said Ahmad Ashkar, CEO of Hult Prize, who conceived of the competition in 2009 as an enterprising MBA student at the Hult International Business School. Ashkar’s idea — to leverage the crowd to generate startup ideas from young people that will sustainably solve the world’s most critical social challenges, has grown the Hult Prize into the world’s biggest engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit student startups.

Funded by Bertil Hult, a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, the Hult family donates $1,000,000 in seed capital to help the winning team launch its social enterprise. The Hult Prize Foundation has been featured in a TIME Magazine Cover Story highlighting the “Top 5 Ideas Changing the World.”

This year’s challenge, coordinated by Kennedy Patlan, Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar, is described in greater detail here. Applicants are strongly advised to download and read the complete challenge package to understand the parameters of the competition.

To sign-up for more information about the Hult campus competition and other upcoming opportunities, please e-mail To learn more about the Hult Foundation and the Hult Prize Competition, visit

SparkCharge shares top prize in FuzeHub 2017 Commercialization Competition

SparkCharge was among the five companies taking top prize in FuzeHub’s 2017 Commercialization Competition. A field of seventeen entrepreneurs from across New York State, including SparkCharge founder Josh Aviv, came together in the Capital Region In November to compete for the $250,000 in prize money.

Finalists covered a wide variety of industries, including Clean-Tech, IT, Semiconductor, Bio/Life Sciences, and Energy. Other companies taking home the $50,000 prize were Ferric Contrast: non-toxic MRI contrast agents (Buffalo); NanoHydroChem: proprietary nanomaterial capable of generating hydrogen gas from water on demand. (Buffalo); Potsdam Sensors: field-deployable IOT sensor for accurate sensing of airborne particles. (Potsdam); and Praxis Biotechnology: new rosacea cream that blocks a specific change that occurs in rosacea skin without affecting the rest of the body. (Albany).

FuzeHub is a nonprofit organization that assists small to medium manufacturing companies by matching them with technical and business resources. It is an Empire State Development-designated Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and works with innovation organizations to help ensure that New York State companies are competitive and receive world-class technical expertise.

Josh Aviv, co-founder and CEO of SparkCharge, won grand prize at the Blackstone/Techstars global venture pitch competition in New York City on October 18.  He was also the grand prizewinner in the 2017 New York State Business Plan Competition. He holds two degrees from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in information management from the School of Information Studies (2017) and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Maxwell School (2015).

Aviv received early and continued support from the faculty in the iSchool’s minor in Information Technology, Design, and Startups, and from the professional mentors in the Syracuse Student Sandbox. He has made full use of the services of the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library and now serves as entrepreneur in residence at the Couri Hatchery in the Falcone Center, Whitman School of Management. His research and development offices are located at the Syracuse Center of Excellence, where he is creating two Syracuse CoE Fellows positions for students who are interested in exploring renewable technologies and energy systems.

Learn more about the FuzeHub competition at:

Impact Prize winners announced

Kennedy Patlan and Gisella von Dran

A panel of area civic leaders this week announced the winners of the first Impact Prize competition at Syracuse University. Winners were selected for the most innovative and implementable ideas to help solve civic, environmental, economic, or other public challenges, as part of a campus-wide social entrepreneurship challenge. Selected from a field of 36 teams, the finalists competed November 14 in front of a live audience as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week at Syracuse University.

Tied for first place and each receiving a $2,000 team prize were participants in the recent Invention Accelerator at Syracuse University, Invent@SU:

  • In-Spire: Kayla Simon and Elizabeth Tarangelo (Engineering & Computer Science), for a wearable Albuterol inhaler for asthma patients who suffer from asthma attacks while on-the-go;
  • Fibrefree: Serena Omo-Lamai and Charles Keppler (Engineering & Computer Science), for a laundry ball that traps microfibers, preventing them from entering aquifers and the atmosphere.

Second place, receiving a $1,000 team prize was:

  • Food for Community: Samantha Guillaume and Patrick Carleton (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry), for a not-for-profit that transports unused food from local schools and takes it to local pantries.

Organized by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library, the $5,000 Impact Prize competition was supported through a personal gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program, and former assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management.  Dr. von Dran also served as a judge and presented the awards.

The Impact Prize competition was managed by Kennedy Patlan ’18, a triple major in advertising in the Newhouse School, citizenship and civic engagement in the Maxwell School and women’s and gender studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. As the first Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar, Patlan organized the competition, conducted outreach across campus, organized Impact Generator workshops, provided peer mentoring of the applicants, and supervised all event logistics.

The competition was open to Syracuse University students, as well as SUNY ESF students who are studying entrepreneurship at SU.

Other finalists competing in the November 14 finals included:

  • Biomass Combustion Process: team leader William Lee Mendes McKnight (Arts and Sciences), for a high efficiency biomass combustion process to power village-scale generators;
  • Comfeet: team leader Francis Marinez (Engineering & Computer Science), for eco-friendly, size-adjustable shoes for toddlers;
  • Doorway Energy: team leader Teodoro DeLelllis (Engineering & Computer Science), for a solution to capture energy coming from commercial doorways through wind turbine technology;
  • GreenStrip: Jose Javier Garcia Rovira (Whitman) for a product that enhances the planting process in infertile soils around the world;
  • Greenwood Investment Network: Asile Patin (Arts and Sciences), for a nonprofit to create an evergreen fund for local minority business owners to access seed funding in a collective, sustainable way;
  • Modoscript: team leader David Zuleta (Arts and Sciences), for a Pill-Safe Digital Health System to address overdosing and underdosing;
  • Native Women’s E-Mag: Michelle Schenandoah (Newhouse), for an interactive E-magazine and brand to serve as a national platform for Native women;
  • Spolitic: team leader Abigail Hamilton (Whitman), for an app that connects politically passionate people to engagement opportunities to effectively organize our generation’s movements;
  • Starfruit: team leader Nathan Elequin (Education), for an educational technology consulting company dedicated to matching schools with the instructional software best-suited to improve teachers’ experiences or their student’s engagement;
  • Wind Turbine Project: team leaderTyler Vartabedian (Engineering & Computer Science), for a highway-barrier mounted vertical axis wind turbine to provide clean energy.

Judges for the final round were:  Paul Brooks, LaunchNY Venture Development Organization; Eric Ennis, City of Syracuse Neighborhood and Business Development; Robert Herz, In-sourcing Community Incubator; Owen Kerney, City of Syracuse – Onondaga County Planning Agency; Joanne Lenweaver, WISE Women’s Business Center; Karen Livingston, NYS Small Business Development Center; and Caitlin Moriarty, The Tech Garden.

AJ Damiano scores another win with PowerSpike

Angelo (AJ) Damiano ’18, founder of student startup PowerSpike, won the $7,500 top prize in the U.S.-Western NY regionals of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA). The competition, held November 8 in Buffalo, was open to student entrepreneurs who actively run a business, are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree and generating revenue or investments. Damiano will now advance to the EO GSEA finals in Dallas, slated for February 2018.

Damiano is a senior in the Whitman School of Management and a member of the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries and the Couri Hatchery at the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship.

PowerSpike is an influencer marketing and analytics platform for, connecting gaming influencers with brands and advertisers for paid promotions and sponsored content. PowerSpike enables streamers to monetize their audience and helps brands to connect with new customers on a platform that reaches over 100 million viewers each month. Damiano has grown his company, recently sealed major brand placement deals, and attracted outside seed investment. Damiano recently participated in TwitchCon2017 and BlizzCon, two of gaming’s biggest venues, growing his status as an industry influencer.

This EO GSEA win follows his recent participation in the global Blackstone LaunchPad/Techstars Training Camp in New York City, a highly competitive program for the top two student entrepreneurs selected from each of the 20 Blackstone LaunchPad programs across the U.S. and United Kingdom. This past April, Damiano also won the top prize in the Software/Information Technology division of the New York State Business Plan Competition. He is a winner of several Syracuse University competitions, including the Panasci Business Plan Competition, the RvD iPrize, and CompeteCNY.

EO GSEA is considered the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who actively run a business.  With more than 1,700 competitors from over 30 countries, EO GSEA is an exclusive opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.  It is supported by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a global business network of more than 12,000 leading entrepreneurs in 160 global chapters.

Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success. EO offers resources in the form of global events, leadership development programs, peer-to-peer learning, an online entrepreneur forum, executive education opportunities, and connections to experts.

Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017, November 13-17

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) launches Monday, November 13, with Syracuse University and community networking events, workshops, lectures, and competitions.  The celebration, from November 13 to 17, is the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurship. Its purpose is to inspire and educate ideators and innovators, and help them advance their ideas by connecting with campus, community, and global leaders.

Coordinated on campus by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, in collaboration with many partners, #GEW2017Syracuse is part of a 165-country festival that empowers innovators at all stages – from start-up to scale-up. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Global Entrepreneurship Week, with global activities ranging from large-scale competitions to roundtable discussions, pitch competitions and meetups. GEW is an avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to discover possibilities and exciting opportunities.

Activities throughout the week will engage all parts of Syracuse’s entrepreneurship ecosystem – entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, resource providers, community members and more – to help entrepreneurs to unleash their ideas, become self-starters, and engage in start-up thinking.

All events are open to the community free of charge, unless otherwise noted.  Participants are encouraged to use social media to share their ideas and experiences this week using the hashtags #GEW2017, #GEW2017Syracuse, or @GEW2017, @GEW2017Syracuse.

Watch the #GEW17Syracuse promo video here.

Featured events:

Monday, November 13 – Kick-off day

Noon to 1 p.m., Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Syracuse University

Campus Kick-off event, Invent@SU, with founders of the Invention Factory and the Invent@SU team

Welcome by Dean David Seaman, Syracuse University Libraries, remarks by Dean Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg, College of Engineering and Computer Science, featured presentation by the founders of the Invention Factory at Cooper Union, who also helped collaborate to launch Invent@SU, Eric Lima and Alan N. Wolf.  Featuring Invent@SU students.  Opening reception.

Noon to 1 p.m. The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison Street, Syracuse

Community Kick-off event, Money Monday Luncheon

Join the Tech Garden team and guest speakers for a lively luncheon on how to learn and leverage tools and techniques to help grow your bottom line.

5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Flaum Hall, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University

Funder-Founder Forum speed networking event for top student ventures and potential funders

Sponsored by Whitman School of Management EEE with the Falcone Center and Couri Hatchery, this popular event gives student entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas, one-on-one to a variety of funders, and get instant feedback on how to become investment ready.

7 p.m.  To 8 p.m., Café Kubal, University Avenue

E-Club Coffee Happy Hour

8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Whitman Room 007, Syracuse University

E-Club Guest Speaker, Joshua Anton, CEO of X-Mode Social

Joshua Anton co-founded his student venture at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, and quickly grew it more than 1.5 million installs at more than 200 colleges, and raised more than $1.3 million in seed funding.  How did he do it? Learn his secrets to “start and scale.”

Tuesday, November 14  – Social Entrepreneurship Day

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, first floor Lobby, Nancy Cantor Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette Street


Through the process of design thinking, communications design majors in VPA’s School of Design are confronting some of the social and political problems of our time through “CONFRONTED.EDU,” an education in social consciousness.  Come see the multimedia solutions, including an interconnected exhibition scale model, posters and digital experiences.

11 a.m., Whitman Room 004, Syracuse University

Global Social Skype with SU EEE entrepreneurs in Syracuse and EEE entrepreneurs in London

A global idea jam to share tips, techniques, tools and practices from “across the pond.”

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Check in at Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, Syracuse University

Impact Prize Competition

Finalists pitch from 3 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the inaugural Impact Prize, a student social entrepreneurship competition to ideate identify new products, services and technologies that can produce cultural, economic, environmental or civic impact.  More than 36 teams applied, with 13 finalists selected to compete for $5,000 in prize funding.  Prize announcement by Dr. Gisela von Dran, awards ceremony and reception at 4:30 p.m. in PGSC, Room 114, Bird Library.

6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center

Dining for Dollars

Sponsored by Syracuse University Career Services as part of #GEW2017Syracuse, this reservation only three-course meal features professionals coaching students through navigating dinner etiquette and strategically asking for money for your venture.  Pre-registration was required through Career Services.

8 p.m. to 9 p.m., The IceBox, iSchool, Syracuse University

Blockchain E-Meetup

Explore blockchain technology that is currently underlying the cryptocurrency industry. The new SU Blockchain Club, based in the Blackstone LaunchPad, explores the inner workings of blockchain, what it is, how it works, its applications in business and even start to work on projects relating to blockchain. Learn more about who has made millions in cryptocurrency investments, expert researchers in the field and people who are starting companies with a blockchain focus.  Want to join the club?  Learn More:

Wednesday, November 15 – Women in Entrepreneurship Day

All Day:  WISE WBC, The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison Street

WISE Women’s networking, coaching and special events

10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, Syracuse University

F3Force:  Entrepreneurship Fueled by Female Faculty

Join iSchool Dean Liz Liddy and Barbara E. Jones, Professor of Practice, Television/Radio/Film, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications/Founder of StayBillety for a roundtable on the challenges and opportunities of being a female founder. The world needs more women-led companies.  One way to make that happen is by building a community where successful women can share their stories and advice for those who are in earlier stages of building a company. Come be inspired.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, Syracuse University

Wonder Women Power Hour

Spend a power hour with SU student entrepreneurs who are trailblazers.  Growth hackers, hustlers and hipsters, they are shaking it up and doing it their way.  Be “riveted” by their stories.  Erin Miller, Out There Productions and iSchool IDS connector, Julia Haber, founder of VISION student entrepreneurship club, Jamie Vinick, founder of Women in Leadership student club, and Sarah Grosz, president of the Syracuse University Entrepreneurship Club.  Learn how they connected with top entrepreneurs across the country, and growth hacked their way to success.

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., CNY Biotechnology Accelerator, 841 E. Fayette Street, Syracuse

Claudia Campbell-Matland  “The Medical Device Product Journey” — Webinar

From a 25-year career perspective and senior positions in R&D and business development, Campbell-Matland offers insight on mitigating risks as a part of quality management system approach to the medical device product lifecycle.  Interested in biomedical innovation?  Get insight from an expert.

3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., SyracuseCoE, 727 E. Washington Street, Syracuse

Powered by Women:  Clean Energy Entrepreneurship

SyracuseCoE celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week with a Research and Technology Forum that features three women who have worked to commercialize innovations in energy and environmental systems.  Presenters will offer personal insights on opportunities and challenges along their unique path of entrepreneurship and innovation.  Featured speakers:  Amy Casper, Eaton (Ephesus Lighting), Karen Livingston, SBDC advisor, EEE faculty and energy entrepreneur, and Amanda Chou, Thrive.  Moderated by Cindy Oehmigen, Director of Energy and Corporate Services at the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY). Reception follows presentation and discussion.  Register on Eventbrite here.

7 p.m., Newhouse Innovation Lab, Syracuse University

5th Medium

Come explore the 5th Medium, SU’s student virtual/augmented reality club. Don’t have experience with VR? No problem! 5th Medium provides access to various technologies and offers hands-on experiential learning.  Learn more:

Thursday, November 16  – Founder’s Day

Noon to 1 p.m., Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library

Founders Brown Bag Luncheon

New to entrepreneurship?  Just exploring?  Get your questions answered by some of the top award-winning student entrepreneurs at SU. They have collectively raised $2.5 million in seed funding through crowdsourcing, business plan competitions and early stage funds.  Here is your chance to meet them and pick their brains on your big idea.  Learn from the best and get some best-in-class peer mentoring.  Get a warm welcome, witty wisdom and solid advice from the winners who have walked the road.  BYOB (Bring Your Own Brownbag).

3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Room 608, Bird Library, Syracuse University

Global Entrepreneurship, an International Student Perspective

Organized by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellows, this event features students from six countries sharing perspectives on entrepreneurship from their global perspective.  The event will be moderated by the founders of  Established in 2017 at Syracuse University, Globalists is a student organization and media outlet that give students a voice to start conversations about global issues and express their perspectives on various subjects.

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison Street, Syracuse

Entrepreneur Throwdown at the TechGarden

Join community entrepreneurs for a fun-filled Pitch Throwdown, ‘Cuse Style.  Light-hearted lighting pitches will pit entrepreneurs from The Tech Garden, WISE Women’s Business Center, CoWorks and InSourcing for “global bragging rights” as the top dog in town.  Winner gets the coveted prize globe, and everyone gets a “Get Happy” reception to wrap up #GEW2017Syracuse in style.

Friday, November 17 – Tech Commercialization Day

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center

NEXT 2017 Conference

 NEXT is a conference focused on innovation in technology, manufacturing, and biotech. The event brings together fast-track companies, managers, researchers, medical professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs to meet and learn from each other and from international thought leaders and industry experts. The dynamic full-day program boasts two world-class keynotes: artificial intelligence and robotics guru Hod Lipson and internationally renowned neuroscientist and medical intelligence expert Dave Warner, as well as interactive educational workshops in three concurrent tracks. A Technology Showcase features breakthrough science from university and industry research teams and displays from businesses developing cutting-edge products, giving attendees a unique first-hand look at NEXT generation opportunities, tools, and discoveries.

The conference is sponsored by the Central New York Biotech Accelerator, Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE) at Syracuse University and CNY Technology Development Organization (TDO) and the NYS Science and Technology Law Center at Syracuse University.

The dynamic, full-day program features panels on “Biotech Innovation” and “Manufacturing Excellence,” along with the NYSSTLC-organized track on “Legal Issues in Technology Commercialization.” The conference also brings to Syracuse two world-class keynote speakers: artificial intelligence and robotics guru Hod Lipson and internationally renowned neuroscientist and medical intelligence expert Dave Warner. Parallel to the conference, a Technology Showcase will feature breakthrough science from university and industry research teams and displays from businesses developing cutting-edge products, giving attendees a unique first-hand look at “NEXT generation” opportunities, tools and discoveries.

To learn more about the event and to register, click here

All week

VISION Wall Pop-up at the Blackstone LaunchPad, Bird Library, Syracuse University

Vision for Entrepreneurs organization is located SU’s Blackstone LaunchPad. It is an Adobe-sponsored club that focuses on academic diversity within entrepreneurship, working with students across campus on various product initiatives and events. Activities have ranged from using technology tools to build an interactive design lab, to creating and promoting pop-up events across campus.  Watch for a pop up at the Blackstone LaunchPad.

Follow events and see photos all week @LaunchPadSYR as well as by the many program partners.