Syracuse University students to compete for ACC InVenture Prize

acc-inventure-graphicShark Tank isn’t the only place to catch a first-look at talented young entrepreneurs creating innovations that will shape the future. Teams from Syracuse University are about to vie for the InVenture Prize, a televised event open to student startups at the 15 colleges and universities that are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Academic Consortium.

The InVenture Prize Competition has been nicknamed “American Idol for Nerds,” recognizing the interdisciplinary competition as one of the biggest and best talent searches for student creativity, invention, and entrepreneurship.  The Emmy Award-winning competition was created by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Public Broadcasting, with contestants pitching to a live audience at a dynamic televised, live-streamed event.

The InVenture Prize plays off the spirit of the ACC. “They’ve battled it out on the field, but now the ACC’s best minds come together for a competition like no other,” according to event organizers. “The InVenture Prize is an opportunity to stimulate undergraduate entrepreneurial activity and increase student-faculty engagement, to celebrate and highlight the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of our students, and to inspire a greater sense of camaraderie across the conference.”

The 15 participating colleges are: Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State, University of Notre Dame, Syracuse University, 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.

“Syracuse University has a very long and impressive culture and track record of innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly. “This is a great opportunity for our incredibly talented students and recent graduates to go toe-to-toe with their ACC peers for prize money to launch their next venture. And it’s a wonderful way to showcase the fact that the ACC is about more than sports—that it’s also about celebrating our shared commitment to academic and scholarly excellence and advancing it to new levels. I can’t wait to see the creative ideas that our students put forward to represent Syracuse in the finals.”

Deadline to apply online for the Syracuse University qualifier is January 31. Student startups will pitch to a panel of university judges, drawn from across academic programs, at a campus competition on February 10. One finalist team will be selected to represent Syracuse University at the finals in Atlanta on March 30-31.

The fifteen university teams advancing to Atlanta will pitch during the preliminary round on March 30th, after which five teams will be chosen to advance to the final round on March 31st. A panel of expert judges will award the first-place team $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.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Each university finalist team may be composed of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students or recent graduates of the university within one year of graduation from their undergraduate program.
  • If a team member is a recent graduate of the university, the idea for the invention must have been initially conceived while the student was enrolled as an undergraduate.
  • Full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students must comprise at least 50% of the registered team members. Individual teams with only one student are eligible to compete.
  • Teams with generated revenue or venture capital funding in excess of $100,000 are not eligible to compete.
  • Entrants should be the original creators, inventors, or owners of the intellectual property (IP) underlying their invention. Any co-invention with non-students or any other third party outside the university must be fully disclosed during registration to determine if the outside contribution was substantial. A team whose idea or invention qualifies as university-owned IP is not eligible to enter.

The application process is straightforward: teams submit on-line, and upload a one-page business statement. If selected for the Syracuse competition, they will create a pitch deck for the campus competition. Coaching in advance of the campus finals will be available through the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship’s Couri Hatchery.

Students may make appointments to meet at the Blackstone LaunchPad with experts from the U.S. Small Business Administration and New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for technical assistance. Appointments for coaching or meetings with business advisors or professional service providers can be made by e-mail:  Pro-bono professional service advisors are also available by appointment at the Couri Hatchery:




Global Game Jam Rides Wave to Success

game-jamSyracuse University students created ideas for new digital and analog games at Global Game Jam 2017, the world’s biggest game jam. Held in Bird Library on January 20-22, the event linked over two dozen local students with participants from six continents to create themed games.

The weekend-long event was powered by the Blackstone LaunchPad, in partnership with the Department of English (CAS), the Computer Art and Animation program in the Department of Transmedia (VPA), Information Technology and Services (ITS), the School of Information Studies, and the Syracuse University Libraries.

The theme of this year’s game jam was “Waves.” Teams created working prototypes of video, mobile, web-based, iOS/Android, board, card, tabletop, and other “wave-themed” games. They worked in the concept of waves from the perspective of science, art, technology, nature, and the built environment. They also embedded the concept at many levels of game creation, from audio, graphics, code, and gameplay, as well as thematic aspects.

At the conclusion of the jam, teams presented their game concepts to judges who are area professionals in the game industry.  Teams and their games were recognized in categories such as biggest blockbuster potential, most cinematic, best player interaction, and best platform game mechanic.

Judges included SU alumnus John Spatola ’07 (Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science) who is founder, owner, and CEO of Lake Effect Applications. He was joined by Lisa Spatola ’08 and Josh Burns, also from Lake Effect Applications, which creates mobile experiences for core gamers. Other judges were Angelo (AJ) Damiano ’18 (Whitman School of Management), founder of Power-Spike, a Syracuse University student startup in the game industry, and Glenn Allen G’01, who is an expert in software development and design.

Games by SU students were uploaded on the official website,, to be shared with more than 36,000 jammers in 702 sites in 95 countries. More than 7,000 new games were created worldwide that weekend by artists, musicians, coders, designers, writers, producers, and other creative talent. Game concepts spanned desktop PCs, handheld touch screens, eye-tracking, virtual reality, physical electronics, and paper-and-cardboard tabletop games. All of the games produced in the event are open source and can be accessed on-line and played at

The event, organized and coordinated by Syracuse University’s Games Studies Research Group, brought together two new SU Libraries’ programs, the Digital Scholarship Space (DSS) and the Blackstone LaunchPad. The DSS is a collaborative pilot project by Syracuse University ITS and the University Libraries, based in Bird Library, that provides students and faculty access to a variety of technologies for software design, gaming, data visualization, digital humanities projects, and digital mapping. The Blackstone LaunchPad is an experiential learning service center, connecting Syracuse University’s innovation ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Amanda Chou ’19 and Amos Cohen ’20 join Blackstone LaunchPad as first Global Media Fellows

Amanda Chou ’19 and Amos Cohen ’20 have joined the Blackstone LaunchPad team this semester as its first Global Media Fellows. They will assist with developing plans for student outreach and special events that increase the number of students engaging in entrepreneurship across campus, such as guest speakers, workshops, founder’s and funder’s forums, and idea competitions and pitch fests. They will work with the Blackstone LaunchPad Student Advisory Committee on special projects, and support cross-campus engagement with the Blackstone global network on network-wide campus challenges.

More importantly, they will help tell the stories of student entrepreneurs, with a perspective on ventures that are both cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural. Through the creation of videos, short features, social media, photo essays, and other marketing communications, they will help convey ideas and innovations created by students who are part of the Syracuse University entrepreneurship ecosystem. Both bring considerable talent and expertise to this role.

dsc_0032Chou is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public relations at the Newhouse School and political science at the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also Chief Marketing Officer for Thrive Projects, Inc., a Syracuse University student startup that has a global footprint, giving her experience in the startup world. Thrive’s fundamental mission to provide renewable energy solutions, sustainability education, and leadership and vocational training to vulnerable communities around the world. She was part of the Thrive team that represented Syracuse University at the prestigious Hult Prize competition. The Hult Prize is a crowdsourced platform for social good, named one of the top five ideas changing the world by Time Magazine, aimed at launching disruptive and catalytic social ventures to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges.

dsc_0039Amos Cohen, from Tel-Aviv, is a seasoned entrepreneur who has served in leadership military positions with the Israeli Defense Force before coming to Syracuse University. His experience has produced a solid skill set rooted in team building, strategic planning, and problem solving. After leaving the military, Cohen took on a management role with several small businesses, before founding his own venture, Captur. That experience gave him insight into developing prototypes, strategizing marketing plans, and engaging with operations. Cohen is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in entrepreneurship and marketing management. He also holds a graphic design certification from Shenkar College, and was a participant in the starTAU Entrepreneurship Club, which is part of the Tel Aviv University Entrepreneurship Center.

Cohen has been an active member of the Blackstone Launchpad since joining the Syracuse community in fall 2016. He was an integral part of planning the first Global Entrepreneurship Week at Syracuse University, a weeklong celebration with 30 events across campus, and he spoke at a panel on globalism from an international student perspective. Cohen is also a Renee Crown Honors Program scholar.

Chou and Cohen join Yong Zhang “Lawrence” Lin ’19 and Quentin Rene Marcel Rosso ’19, who were named inaugural Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellows in fall 2016.

To connect with any of the LaunchPad Global Fellows, e-mail



Syracuse University partners to host Global Game Jam, January 20 – 22 in Bird Library


Syracuse University’s Bird Library will serve as a location for Global Game Jam® (#SUGGJ17), the world’s largest game jam (game creation) event, taking place on the weekend of January 20-22, 2017. University and community members are invited to collaborate, create, and present new game ideas to the global community. Participants will generate ideas for digital and analog games, pitch those ideas to one another, and form teams to work on a project, all in the course of a single weekend. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. Registration and details are available at

#SUGGJ17 begins Friday, January 20 at 4 p.m. in the Blackstone LaunchPad on the first floor of Bird Library, which is serving as the hospitality site. The kick-off will include a short video keynote at 5 p.m. and the announcement of this year’s theme. All sites worldwide are then challenged to create games based on that theme, to be completed over the weekend. In last year’s jam, over 600 locations in 93 countries created 6,866 games. Syracuse University game presentations will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Bird Library.

Jammers who are interested in games—whether video, mobile, web-based, iOS/Android, board, card, tabletop, or other types– are invited to attend, and compete to design innovative game concepts over a fun and food-fueled weekend. No coding or game design skills are required to participate and the event is open to those from all levels of experience from absolute beginner to seasoned developer.

Event hours will be Friday, January 20 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, January 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Development software and other tools like 3D printing will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops and other development devices.

There is a nominal registration fee of $10, which includes a t-shirt (while supplies last.) Seating is limited, so participants are encouraged to register early. Jammers must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or guardian.

#SUGGJ17 is being organized and coordinated by Syracuse University’s Games Studies Research Group and brings together two new SU Libraries programs, the Digital Scholarship Space (DSS) and the Blackstone LaunchPad.

The DSS is a pilot project by Syracuse University ITS that provides students and faculty with access to a variety of technologies for software design, gaming, data visualization, digital humanities projects, and digital mapping. DSS is located in Bird Library to better reach and serve its audiences of students and scholars and has already been used by instructors and students for courses in multiple departments. It features a computer lab to facilitate the development of interactive, immersive, and mobile applications, projects, and games on emerging technologies and systems, including virtual, mixed, and augmented reality platforms.

The Blackstone LaunchPad, located on the first floor of Bird Library, is an experiential learning service center that places entrepreneurship at the center of academic life and connects Syracuse University’s innovation ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs. Supported through seed funding from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the LaunchPad offers one-stop connections to the university’s robust network of entrepreneurial resources, programs, and activities, along with specialized applications, tools, and training to help get startups off the ground and scale.  It can be used for ideation workshops, team and mentor meetings, co-working, networking events, coaching and training sessions, venture demos, and product launches, as well as other collaborative activities.

#SUGGJ17 is sponsored by the Computer Art and Animation program in the Department of Transmedia (VPA), the Department of English (CAS), the iSchool, SU ITS, and the Syracuse University Libraries.

“The Game Studies group has hosted the SU site for the GGJ several times before, and there have been some brilliant games made by teams which included folks with no game development experience,” says  assistant professor of English Chris Hanson, who has used the DSS to teach ETS 444: Theories of Game Studies. “The GGJ is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to try out making a game. If you like playing games, you will love making them!”

Learn more about the event and register at  More information about the global activities can be found at





Social Impact Investing: a Global Entrepreneurship Week event on November 16 at Bird Library

social-impact-investingSocial Impact investing is the topic of a featured panel at Global Entrepreneurship Week, Wednesday, November 16 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library. The event features (at left) Dennis M. DeLeo, President and Director, Venture Jobs Foundation, and Co-founder, Trillium Group, LLC. a Rochester-based venture capital and private equity firm; Christine Woodcock Dettor, Bousquet Holstein PLLC, and Director and Legal Advisor, Venture Jobs Foundation; and Peter Dunn, President and CEO, Central New York Community Foundation.

The event is targeted at aspiring entrepreneurs and civic leaders who want to make social change and are interested in exploring creative new financing models.  This is an opportunity to learn from Upstate experts about this emerging trend.

Global and local change can often come from mission-related investments made into ventures and organizations to generate social impact and financial return.  Learn how impact investing can help provide capital to address pressing social and civic challenges, and explore some core characteristics of impact investing.  Speakers are Upstate NY thought leaders in the impact investing field.

The Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses and serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of nearly $200 million. Since its inception, it has invested more than $150 million in the community.

The Venture Jobs Foundation makes impact investments in support of its charitable purpose, funding small businesses that will use social impact capital to create jobs in higher poverty neighborhoods. Micro and early growth lending programs create new job opportunities tied to our investments, with emphasis on lower and mid skill level employment. Small businesses are the prime driver of new job creation, which is directly correlated with alleviating poverty. VJF’s capital deployment, launched in the Rochester region, enhances quality of life and brings employment to the unemployed and underemployed in target neighborhoods. Impact investing, where associated profits support a sustainable and growing pool of capital directed to achieving social gains, is a powerful tool supporting a shared community interest in fighting poverty.

For more information about all events during Global Entrepreneurship Week at Syracuse, visit or e-mail