SU student teams advance to NYS Business Plan Competition finals

SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), University at Albany’s School of Business, and Syracuse University will host the eighth annual New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) on Friday, April 28, 2017 in Albany, NY. Eleven Syracuse University student venture teams will be among the finalists competing for top state prizes.

The NYBPC is a venture creation and innovation competition established in 2010 to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New York’s colleges and universities. The 2017 NYBPC finalists were selected from regional competitions across New York State’s 10 Regional Economic Development Council zones – Capital Region, Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island. Regional partner colleges and universities hosted semifinal competitions in their regions in late March and early April. The top teams from each of the 10 regions face off this week for the grand prize at the state finals.
The New York State winners will be selected by esteemed judges, including venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, other sophisticated public and private investors, and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Compete CNY winners advancing to the finals were selected by area judges in a regional qualifier open to student entrepreneurs from Central New York colleges and universities. The regional competition was sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad on March 24, 2017 at Bird Library.

Winners selected to go on to the statewide competition include:

Social entrepreneurship/non-profit

  • Thrive Project, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, First place
  • Shine the Magazine, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, Second place

Clean technology

  • Spark Charge, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, First place


  • Origin Story, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, Second place


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

Advanced technology

  • ModoScript, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, First place
  • SkyWorks, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, Second place


  • PowerSpike, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, First Place
  • Busie, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, Second place

Teams have the opportunity to win first, second, and third place cash prizes in each of the six tracks. Audience participants will also select a People’s Choice award in each category. Judges will also be asked to select an Esprit de Corps, an Undergraduate Excellence award, and a Community College distinction award in each category.

The awards are milestone based. Winning teams will be required to develop and meet at least two business development and two technical milestones in order to be eligible for their prize awards.

The NYBPC has grown into a statewide competition with some of the largest awards and prizes of any student business competition in the world. The NYBPC is the only leading collegiate business competition that is a regionally coordinated, collaborative statewide program representing over 75 colleges and universities, setting it apart from all other competitions in the nation.

SBIR/STTR federal grant opportunities workshop on April 21

Learn how to access over $2 billion in annual grant opportunities. The Blackstone LaunchPad is sponsoring a SBIR/STTR Federal Grant Opportunities workshop on April 21 from 1–3:30 p.m., in the Blackstone LaunchPad and Peter Graham Scholarly Commons on the first floor Bird Library.

Each year, 11 federal agencies set aside more than $2 billion to fund research and development at small businesses, through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.

Federal agencies issue solicitations to small companies, including start-ups, for research and product development.

Come to this workshop to learn more about SBIR and STTR programs and if they could be a tool to fund your ideas for innovation in research and new product development. Marcene Sonneborn, Professor of Practice in the School of Information Studies, and SBIR & Innovation Specialist for the CNY Technology Development Organization, will lead the workshop.

Sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University the workshop is open to the campus and community.

What you will learn:

  • Overview of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs.
  • How small businesses, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs can tap into over $2 billion in federal funding for grants and contracts to develop innovative products and services.

Who should attend:

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to start a technology business.
  • University researchers wishing to explore partnering with small businesses with a goal of commercializing University research/technology.
  • Phase I award winners planning a Phase II proposal.
  • Past Phase I applicants who have not yet won an award.

SBIR proposals are two times more likely to be funded when small businesses collaborate with a university or research institution. Find out how to make those connections at this campus-community information exchange.

Informational materials will also be provided by the Syracuse University Office of Technology Transfer.

For more details or to register, email

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.”