Syracuse University Teams Continue Winning Streak at 2019 New York Business Plan Competition

Syracuse University students and alumni attending the New York Business Plan Competition in Albany on April 26, 2019.

Syracuse University teams sustain highest level of success in the history of the state competition

Syracuse University student teams competed in the 10th annual New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) organized by Upstate Capital Association of New York on April 26 in Albany and came home with five prizes. This is the most of any university at the 2019 event.  Syracuse University teams captured five awards in 2018, and in the 2017 competition S.U. teams won the top prizes in four categories, along with the grand prize.  No other university has achieved this level of sustained success in the history of the state competition.

This year’s competition featured nearly 100 student-led teams at the event on Friday, April 26. Cash prizes were awarded in six tracks, with winners selected by a panel of venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, business leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Syracuse University winners included:

  • $10,000 first place in technology and entertainment category: Our Song, , a company that writes custom songs for couples who want unique wedding songs based on their story, Molly D’Agostino (College of Law ‘19);
  • $2,500 second place in ag-tech and food category: FEI Technology, an online food platform focused primarily on Asian cuisine, Chenghao Zhang (Whitman ’21), Yongqian Wen (iSchool ’22), Yijie Huang (Whitman ’21), Yangdi Jiang (Whitman ’21), and Tianni Xu (Whitman ’20);
  • $1,000 third place in technology and entertainment category: CLLCTVE, a platform that develops college creatives and delivers creative solutions to brands, Kelsey Davis (Newhouse ’19) and Ryan Williams. This team also won the $2,000 Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) excellence award;
  • $2,000, MWBE excellence award, PAANI, a clean water filtration solution for low-income communities in India, Nikita Chatterjee (Whitman ’20) and Brianna Howard (Falk ’20).

The NYBPC regional qualifier was organized by the Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad, whose staff also accompanied the teams to Albany.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad provided business planning expertise, mentorship, collaboration space and pitch guidance to teams,” said Dean of Libraries David Seaman. “Strong showings over three years demonstrates the impact this Libraries service has had since it cut the ribbon in April 2016.”

For more information about the NYBPC:  https://www.nybpc.org/


Blackstone LaunchPad, VPA and InclusiveU team up to create Micro-Short Film

A creative micro-short film, “Third Shift,” co-produced by the Blackstone LaunchPad, InclusiveU, and VPA film and design students, will have its world premiere, Friday, April 26 at 1 p.m. at a year-end celebration in Huntington Hall Commons. All are welcome to attend.

The project hatched last fall when The Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries sponsored an inclusive entrepreneurship workshop with students in the InclusiveU program as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. InclusiveU is an initiative of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, committed to individualized and inclusive higher educational opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The workshop was facilitated by Jake deHahn ’19, a VPA industrial and interaction design student and Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow. A student entrepreneur, deHahn is the founder of Bowtie Boulevard, and interested in inclusive design for people of all abilities.  That is also the topic of research for his 5th year design thesis, also set to debut this month.  Born profoundly deaf, he is an unilateral cochlear implant user who proudly shares his personal story at conferences around the nation.  He was recently a featured speaker at Syracuse University’s Human Library, with the message that a disability shouldn’t stop anyone from defying stigmas and dreaming big.

deHahn says his passion as a designer drives him to make the world a more accessible place. “Having a disability makes you see the world in a different, unique way.” Whenever he can, he tries to immerse himself among those with different abilities. “InclusiveU is a wonderful community of creative, intelligent, and caring people.”

At the fall inclusive entrepreneurship workshop, the students discussed what they were passionate about. The group quickly came to a consensus that a startup film company would be a great way to learn entrepreneurship, and so InclusiveU Productions was launched. Through early spring, InclusiveU students worked with the Blackstone LaunchPad, and VPA film students to learn how to create and produce a movie.

InclusiveU students conceived of the story, wrote the script, starred in the movie, and assisted in all aspects of production planning.

deHahn helped as production designer, while Peter Hartsock ’19, a VPA film student and co-founder of student startup 410 Pictures, was the cinematographer and editor. Janie Kahan ’19, a VPA film student who is an advocate for those with disabilities, directed the movie. Kahan has a special interest in inclusive education, promoting the use of American Sign Language in children’s media while interning for DreamWorks. She says, “Growing up using American Sign Language in my home, deaf culture has become a large influence in my life. Using my experience and a new connection with the National Association of the Deaf, I was able to educate the DreamWorks executives on the culture, linguistics, and how to properly represent a deaf character in a children’s television show. I plan to advocate for disability representation in my film and tv career.”

“Third Shift,” stars InclusiveU students Delvon Waller, Gabriella Iannotti, and Ryan Gorke. The film would not have been possible without the InclusiveU student crew who played key production roles as well — Delvon Waller as screenwriter, Jon Rushmore as art, production, effects and food services, Anthony Canestrare as music consultant, and Xavier Jefferson on pre-production and planning.

Waller said, “I was really excited to see what I wrote to come to life. Throughout hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything. No matter what people think or tell you!”

Those who were a part of the project are very proud of the final result. deHahn noted, “All the actors, behind the scenes folks, and students brought their own unique twist to the film. Delvon, the main character, curated a funny and clever screenplay, and it was exciting to see his idea come to life.  But more importantly, it was wonderful to be witness to such a passionate collaboration.”

“Third Shift” was filmed in the spooky basement of Huntington Hall and is a suspenseful comedy horror short, with a surprise ending. The cast and crew invites the campus community to see the first InclusiveU production at Syracuse University.  The film starts promptly at 1 p.m., and is a micro-short, so don’t be late.


Celebrate Women’s History Month with distinguished SU alumna and author, Dr. Kimberly Townsend

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars is celebrating Women’s History Month with a dynamic, speaker, Dr. Kimberly Townsend, who will share her story, along with lessons from her new book, Lifecircle Leadership: How Exceptional People Make Every Day Extraordinary, on Friday, March 22 at noon in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library.

The event is free and open to the entire campus community.

Dr. Townsend is an exceptional SU alumna, with four degrees — a BS in accounting and MBA from the Whitman School of Management, an executive masters of public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a JD from the Syracuse University College of Law.  She also holds a EdD from St. John Fisher College.

A prolific speaker and writer whose work has been published in industry journals and business publications, her book was released by Advantage Media Group in Fall, 2018.  In it, she explores how to increase the bottom line, and succeed personally and professionally, while making lives better for the people around us. Lifecircle Leadership is more than a leadership style, according to Dr. Townsend.  It is a philosophy based on how pragmatic altruism can make profound change.

Dr. Townsend worked her way from being a 35-year-old single mother with a high school diploma to President and CEO of a multi-million-dollar company.  She is a role model for anyone who wants to make positive change in the world. Like many women, she juggles the demands of family and the pressures of a full-time job as President & CEO of Loretto, while still finding time to volunteer and better the community.

Her personal story is inspiring.  Growing up in Windham, NH, near Boston, Dr. Townsend went to Boston University for two years before leaving school to marry and have a family. After several years as a stay-at-home mom, she decided it was time to act on her dream. Dr. Townsend went back to school in her early 30s. Her passion for learning led her to earn five degrees. She worked throughout her schooling, supporting her children, sometimes as a single mother. She has since remarried and is now a mother of six and grandmother of three.

Before joining Loretto, Dr. Townsend spent 13 years at Welch Allyn, a medical devices and software company, working her way from Attorney to Associate General Counsel to Senior Director of Government Affairs. Previous work includes positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Ernst & Young LLP.  In addition to being an attorney admitted to the New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. Bars, Dr. Townsend is a Certified Public Accountant and is SHRM-certified in Global Professional Human Resources. She was Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University from 2001-2011, and was the recipient of the 2010 President’s Award-Customer First at Welch Allyn, Inc.

Dr. Townsend is passionate about living a purposeful, connected life. She is driven by a deep desire to improve herself personally, her company, and her community, through her philosophy of Lifecircle Leadership and pragmatic altruism. She invites others to reconsider their approach to business and life, and hopes they discover, as she did, that being and doing good is good for business.

Refreshments will be served, and reservations are requested by e-mailing LaunchPad@syr.edu


VPA School of Design Students win Syracuse University ACC InVenture Prize

A group of prominent judges, including investors, technologists, funders, and successful entrepreneurs, selected College of Visual and Performing Arts School of Design students Quinn King (left) and Alec Gillinder (right) as winners of the prestigious ACC InVenture Prize at Syracuse University.  The senior industrial and interaction design students won the award for an invention developed by MedUX, a medical product design and research firm they founded to create innovative solutions for inpatient, at home, and mobile care. Their first invention, a lightweight, wearable, portable IV system will allow patients to receive intravenous treatment quickly and efficiently while still keeping them mobile.  It is very useful in hospital settings, stand-alone infusion centers, and home palliative care where a patient might need intravenous delivery and wants to be mobile.

They initially conceived the concept and first prototype in Invent@SU, where they won first place in summer 2018.  Over this academic year, they further developed the product and business model working with the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries, along with mentors and industry experts.  After being selected “SU’s top innovators” in the campus competition, they will now be competing against student teams from other ACC member institutions, “Shark Tank,” style in the finals of the 4th annual ACC Inventure Prize Competition April 16-17 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Medical products are often only designed for function and lack the consideration for the users’ needs,” says King. “The medical field is always evolving, and there is a need for better designed and considered products. Our company is flipping the approach of how to consider medical healthcare design.”

“Healthcare needs to consider patients as customers,” adds Gillinder. “Patients want mobility, more personal control, and health care providers want more innovative solutions.”

The team hopes to put their UX perspective as design students to work designing develop a line of products that are considerate of the user, ergonomics, and effective function.  “We will be delivering products to our target market that help solve user needs,” says King. “Our company will accomplish this through extensive customer discovery with medical staff and patients to understand the problem and devise optimal solutions.”

The team is pursuing milestones that include completing patent work, and seeking strategic partners.  They are already working with top experts and inventors in the medical device field on piloting their concept.  They are also being mentored by other experts, including VPA alumnus Gianfranco Zaccai, co-founder of Continuum, who is a design pioneer who is known for championing a holistic and highly integrated approach to innovation research, design, and development.

The ACC InVenture Prize is coordinated at Syracuse University by the Blackstone LaunchPad.  Last week’s campus competition featured top Syracuse University inventors, including (in alphabetical order):  Alec Gillinder and Quinn King, MedUX; Angelica O’Hare, Prioritage; Brianna Howard and Nikita Chatterjee, Paani; Caleb Obiagwu, SYRE Tech LLC; Daniel McMurray, SWIP; Emma Sargent, C29; Jaclyn Hingre, Halo; Jianqiu Jiang, Watson FitPet; Josh Jackson, Promptous; Matt Shumer, OptechVR; Michael Yacubov, Compress-Aid; Patrick Riolo, Artemis Wand; Peter Mignacca, TowelVAC; and Teodoro Delellis, GiraTech.

Judges included:  Dan Rickman, U.S. Small Business Administration; Danielle Taana Smith, Renee Crown Honors Program; James Capparelli, Gardner and Capparelli CPAs; John Sangardten, M&T Bank; John Spatola, Lake Effect Applications; Lisa Spatola, Lake Effect Applications; Matt Gardner, Gardner and Capparelli CPAs; Ryan York, Pinnacle Investments; Scott Henry, Motion Leap; and Somak Chattopadhyay , Armory Square Ventures.

Prioritage was selected by the judges as the 2019 Syracuse University first alternate.

The MedUX team will be traveling to the championship finals with its Syracuse University coach, Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.  They will compete against teams from Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the University of Louisville, the University of Miami, the University of North Carolina, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Wake Forest University.

During the two rounds of the competition at NC State, judges will evaluate each team on their quality of idea, business model, entrepreneurship and probability of success. The final round will be broadcast live by PBS affiliates along the East Coast. While in Raleigh, student participants will engage in a variety of innovation and startup activities and will present their work following the final competition to audience members, the public and potential investors.

To learn more about the ACC InVenture Prize, visit accinventureprize.com/.


Game Jam coming to Bird Library January 25 – 27, 2019

Do you love games?  Jammers who are interested in video games and streaming, web-based, or iOS / Android games, board games or card games, can compete for free in a worldwide challenge to design innovative game concepts over a food-fueled weekend.  Syracuse University’s Bird Library will host Global Game Jam® (#SUGGJ19), the world’s largest game jam/game creation event, over the weekend of January 25- 27, 2019. University and community members are invited to create and pitch new game ideas to the global community in a hackathon-style environment. Syracuse University is expected to join more than 700 locations in 95 countries.  The event launches Friday late afternoon in the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library, which will serve as the hospitality suite. The kick-off will include a short video keynote and the announcement of this year’s theme.

Game Jam open hours in the Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library will be:

  • Friday, January 25 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with final pitches that afternoon to game industry experts

Prototyping materials, software and other tools like 3D printing will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their laptops. No coding or computer skills are required to participate, only an interest in making games.  Basic design and software skills can be helpful, but are not necessary.

Learn more about the #SUGGJ19 event at http://gamejam.syr.edu/

SU Libraries and two of its programs — the Digital Scholarship Space (DSS) and the Blackstone LaunchPad — are among the co-sponsors of the event.  It is also sponsored by Computer Art and Animation in the Department of Transmedia, the Department of English, and the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition.

DSS is a project by Syracuse University ITS that provides students and faculty access to a variety of technologies for software design, gaming, data visualization, digital humanities projects, and digital mapping.  Located in Bird Library, DSS serves both students and scholars.  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. It is home of the Game Lab to support courses and research on digital and analog games, both for in-class usage and to be available during “open lab” hours for students, faculty, and staff. It is accessible and available to faculty, students, and staff from all departments, colleges, and schools across Syracuse University campus, and staffed by graduate students.

The Blackstone LaunchPad is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting creatives, inventors and entrepreneurs with campus resources and global network.  The LaunchPad offers one-stop connections, coaching and mentoring, along with specialized programs and tools to help take ideas from concept to creation.

More information about the global activities can be found at http://globalgamejam.org/


Global Entrepreneurship Week at SU Libraries, November 12-18

This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrates four themes— women, youth and inclusion in entrepreneurship, and connecting innovators and ecosystems from around the world.

One week each November, thousands of events in 170 countries inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and investors.

Syracuse University is joining the celebration, powered by the Kauffman Foundation, with a lineup of campus and community events coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries.

GEW Syracuse will showcase the rich innovation ecosystem on campus, and help connect campus entrepreneurs with local and global resource partners.  The LaunchPad will use the four themes to highlight powerful voices and innovators who promote, encourage and support the development of entrepreneurs within each of these four spaces.

  • GEW Women celebrates female entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, investors and other startup champions, while offering opportunities to expand their networks, identify resources and share knowledge with other women around the world.
  • GEW Youth inspires and shapes the next generation of innovators, stresses the importance of entrepreneurship education, helps blaze pathways of opportunity for business and civic leaders in an entrepreneurial world.
  • GEW Inclusion highlights the work startup champions are doing around the world to minimize barriers and obstacles for entrepreneurs by maximizing inclusion, valuing diversity and promoting access for all students to enhance equity and provide a platform for innovation and inclusion.
  • GEW Ecosystem Connect supports organizations around the world like the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars that facilitate collaboration and partnership between startup ecosystems.   Sharing knowledge and connecting local ecosystems with global resources, and bringing different cultural perspective together, is at the heart of building healthy and thriving entrepreneurial communities.

Here is a lineup of Syracuse events.  All are open to the community and free unless otherwise indicated.

Follow activities on social media:  Facebook:  LaunchPadSYR and Twitter:  @LaunchPadSYR, and read more about the events on the Blackstone LaunchPad news page: http://launchpad.syr.edu/news

Tag posts with the official Global Entrepreneurship Week hashtag — #GEW2018.

Help celebrate the spirit of innovation at SU next week!


Kayla Simon named LaunchPad Watson Scholar – Blackstone LaunchPad

Kayla Simon ‘19, an aerospace engineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, will be the Blackstone LaunchPad Watson Scholar for the 2018-19 academic year.

Simon is an active and passionate entrepreneur on campus for the past year and a half, and is excited to be mentoring other students to develop ideas of their own.

In 2017, Simon became an innovator on campus, starting by winning first prize in the Invent@SU program with her co-inventor Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19 for their invention. In-Spire is a wearable aerosol inhaler perfect for on-the-go or emergency situations geared towards improving quality of life for asthma patients. It is a wristband with an asthma inhaler integrated inside of a stylish band that can carry smaller amounts of Albuterol, the medication that aids in keeping the airways of the throat open. Since the team developed and pitched their prototype at demo day of Invent@SU, the invention has received positive feedback, which led to Simon and Tarangelo pushing forward to make this invention a tangible product.

From there, Simon came to the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, part of SU Libraries.  Working with the LaunchPad and a team of professional advisors, Simon and Tarangelo have gone on to create a New York State LLC — In-Spire Health – and have won business plans including first place in the Syracuse University Panasci Business Plan Competition, RvD iPrize, Impact Prize, and the campus ACC InVenture Prize.  They also represented Syracuse University at the New York State Business Plan Competition, capturing a Women’s Business Award. They were most recently accepted into the prestigious CNY Biotech Accelerator Medical Device Innovation Challenge.

Along with entrepreneurship, Simon is passionate about the space industry, and recently interned at startup Virgin Orbit in Mojave, California, where she met billionaire and serial entrepreneur Richard Branson.  She is equally passionate about music and photography.  Her energy and charisma makes her a standout, and she is a natural mentoring other creatives, inventors, dreamers and doers.

“Being an entrepreneur, I’ve been able to gain skills I couldn’t have dreamed of, yet I’m still learning every day,” she says. “From all the knowledge I’ve gained over the past year, I’d love to be able to pay that forward and help navigate this process for students who are just starting to develop their ideas.”

It is common to see Simon working in the LaunchPad with students on pitches for business plan competitions, or guiding them through the first steps of thinking about creative ideas. She brings zeal, imagination and intellect – along with incredible patience and empathy, and a great sense of humor.

When she is not doing that, she is working on her own startup, practicing pitches for competitions she is competing in, or meeting with mentors.  And, equally important, studying aerospace engineering, because at heart she is a rocket scientist who brings an incredible sense of curiosity and exploration to everything she does.

Through her time as an entrepreneur on campus and in the Upstate community, she knew she wanted to be able to help others make an impact in her community, which led to apply for the Watson Scholar position.

The LaunchPad Watson Scholar role is funded through a generous gift to Syracuse University Libraries from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund with the intention for the Watson Scholar to honor the life, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson.

Inspired by Syracuse University’s Remembrance Scholar program to honor the spirit and lives of those lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, which sprung a beautiful relationship that has changed lives in many ways, the Watson Scholar is a way to honor the life and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson, a Syracuse University student who passed away after injuries suffered in a tragic 2016 car accident. He was a rising junior majoring in Information Management and Technology at the iSchool. A passionate entrepreneur, he was interested in music, (playing multiple instruments, performing, recording and producing music videos), sports, and technology. He was especially interested in the emerging field of big data and had been working on new ventures related to predictive data.

Simon will be working with the LaunchPad to help peer mentor students who are in the process of creating and developing their own ideas for ventures, along with helping with awards programs and competitions.

What drew Simon to the position was the meaning behind the position, along with a love of mentorship and impact within the world. In 2012, two of Simon’s friends passed away in a tragic car accident while on their way to a show for their band. “They were passionate about music, science, and leadership, and their love for what they did inspired us every day.” The passing of her friends gave Simon a new perspective on how she views life and friendship, along with opportunity. After her hometown created a memorial in their memory, where anyone can go and remember what they had meant to the community, Simon said, “Having their legacy still vibrant in the community they served and cared for so greatly has given us the ability to keep them alive in a small way.”

Simon is incredibly excited to get started working with students, and really cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit here at Syracuse University. “Innovation is innate in all of us,” she says, “We just sometimes need a push or a resource to access it.”


The CLLCTVE Agency, LLC, wins $5,000 first ever ’Cuse Tank competition at SU Libraries MedUX and Promptous tie for second prize, winning $2,500 each

The first event ‘Cuse Tank —co-sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad and Syracuse University Libraries—celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of SU innovators this past Family Weekend.  A distinguished panel of parent judges who are successful entrepreneurs from a variety of industry sectors voted on finalist teams, selected from scores of applicants who vied for $10,000 in prizes.

The contestants came from across campus, including the Newhouse School, the Falk College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Whitman School and the School of Information Studies.

‘Cuse Tank winners are:

$5,000 first prize —  CLLCTVE Agency LLC

CLLCTVE is a creative agency that connects brands with college students who can create transmedia content.  CLLCTVE repositions brands for success, while simultaneously nurturing the freelance community on college campuses across the country. Clients have included Coca-Cola, Land Rover, PUMA and Syracuse University. The team is already working with 50 universities and expanding to more. — Kelsey Davis and Ryan Williams, co-founders

$2,500 second prize —  MedUX

MedUX is a wearable, lightweight IV shoulder device. First place winner of the 2018 Invent@SU program, MedUX’s portable IV system allows people who need infusion treatment to receive it without being tethered to a traditional pole-mounted unit. It is particularly suited for stand-alone infusion centers, cancer centers, post-op hospital settings and palliative care where a patient needs intravenous delivery but also wants to be more mobile and comfortable. The lightweight shoulder-mounted device uses a pressure flow system to control a desired flow rate without the use of electronics or heavy batteries that need to be frequently changed.  — Alec Gillinder and Quinn King, co-founders

$2,500 second prize – Promptous

Promptous is an insurance claims processing platform using blockchain technology and smart contracts to create transparency, predictability and prompt payment. Promptous eliminates the need for a costly third-party benefits administrator, and its streamlined system, targeted for the dental insurance industry, is simpler, easier to understand, and creates secure transactions in a regulatory compliant platform. — Joshua Jackson, Timothy Kelly, Phil McKnight, co-founders

CLLCTVE also hosted a successful, widely attended conference for creatives, “Art of Finesse,” at Newhouse as part of Family Weekend activities.  The education and networking event featured industry advisors who spoke on an array of topics relative to honing a creative lifestyle and capitalizing on talents in productive ways.  Keynote speakers and panelists included  Evin Robinson, co-founder of New York on Tech, Tiffany Bender, senior producer at Teen Vogue,  and Jonathan Jackson,  co-founder of BLAVITY.

“It was truly humbling to win this award amongst so many other great companies,” said Kelsey Davis. “Ryan and I moved to Syracuse in July for the sole purpose of getting plugged into the SU innovation ecosystem as soon as possible. Since then, we have been working extremely closely with our advisors and the Blackstone LaunchPad to build an agency that develops collegiate creatives, in partnership with universities across the country.  We are excited to develop creative solutions for brands looking to reach the Generation Z consumer market.  Thanks to the Blackstone LaunchPad, we’re off to a great start, but this is just the beginning.”

“I continue to be impressed with the quality and creativity of the many SU students who make use of the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, “and am very grateful to the parents who gave their time last week to work with the library on this competition.”


Come to ‘Cuse Tank, Friday, October 26: Family Weekend kicks off with a lively student innovation competition at Bird Library

The “Elite Eight” finalists for the first ever ‘Cuse Tank will vie in a Shark Tank style prize competition on Friday, October 26 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library.  The event is co-sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad and Syracuse University Libraries, and all are invited to watch the pitches and show support for the teams.

A distinguished panel of judges who are SU parents and successful entrepreneurs from a wide variety of industry sectors voted on “Sweet Sixteen” semi-finalists from scores of applications, narrowing the field down to the “Elite Eight” who will pitch for $10,000 in prizes this Friday.

The event is the kick-off to SU Family Weekend, and an opportunity for families who are visiting from around the country, and around the world, to experience the entrepreneurial spirit of SU innovators.

In Family Weekend spirit, two brothers are competing in ‘Cuse Tank.  Will McKnight, founder of Farm to Flame, will face off against Phil McKnight, co-founder of Promptous in the finals.

“The library is delighted to showcase innovative student ideas from across campus,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, “and to bring to bear the services of the Blackstone LaunchPad to help these designers and inventors develop their services and products.  We are particularly grateful to SU parents for their willingness to participate in this exciting event!”

The contestants come from across campus, including the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the David B. Falk College of Sport & Human Dynamics, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the College of Visual & Performing Arts, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, and the School of Information Studies.  In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Cllctve Agency, LLC, a creative agency that connects brands with strategy content and college creatives who can execute transmedia content. CLLCTVE connects revolutionary strategic concepts with collaborative transmedia content to reposition brands for success, while simultaneously nurturing the freelance community on college campuses across the country.  Clients have included Coca-Cola, Land Rover, PUMA and Syracuse University.  The team is already working with 50 universities and expanding to more.  — Kelsey Davis and Ryan Williams, co-founders.
  •  Farm to Flame Energy, a smokeless, odorless, biomass-powered generator, providing energy to off-the grid communities. Winner of several campus impact competitions, as well as a regional finalist for the prestigious Hult Prize competition, Farm to Flame is a fully patented generator and grinder system that can provide power to off-the grid communities in Africa, Asia, and remote portions of North America.  Farm to Flame generators are smokeless and odorless, and can use any feedstock or agricultural waste.  They can also provide reliability to disaster-prone communities that need secure and resilient backup energy to supplement electricity delivery.  — Will McKnight, founder.
  • FibreFree, a device that traps microfibers shed from synthetic clothing to prevent them from entering oceans and aquifers.  Winner of the campus Impact Prize, and finalist for the Dyson Innovation Competition, FibreFree developed its prototype through the Invent@SU program.  FibreFree traps tiny plastic microfibers that are shed from synthetic clothing before they go into the water system and make their way into the food chain.  FibreFree resembles a conventional laundry ball, but its unique porous shell and novel filter, made of 100% recyclable materials, traps microfibers in the laundry process.   — Charles Keppler and Serena Omo-Lamai, co-founders.
  • In-Spire, a wearable and refillable bracelet style asthma inhaler that can deliver an emergency dose. First place winner of the 2017 Invent@SU program, In-Spire also won first place in SU’s Impact Prize, RvD/iPrize, and Panasci Business Plan Competition, and was the campus nominee to the ACC InVenture competition.  The team, which has filed a non-provisional patent, is working to commercialize its stylish bracelet that integrates a small refillable inhaler and provides on-the-go relief, particularly for exercise- induced asthma.  Technical advisors are helping the team develop a strategy for FDA approval.  — Kayla Simon and Elizabeth Tarangelo, co-founders.
  • MedUX, a wearable, lightweight IV shoulder device. First place winner of the 2018 Invent@SU program, MedUX designed a wearable, portable IV system that allows people who need infusion treatment to receive it without being tethered to a traditional pole-mounted unit. It is particularly suited for stand-alone infusion centers, cancer centers, post-op hospital settings, and palliative care where a patient needs intravenous delivery, but also wants to be more mobile and comfortable. It can also be used in emergency and disaster situations where IV systems mounted on poles are not practical. Using new and pre-existing technologies, the lightweight shoulder-mounted device uses a pressure flow system to control a desired flow rate without the use of electronics or heavy batteries that need to be frequently changed.  — Alec Gillinder and Quinn King, co-founders.
  • OptechVR, a standalone, affordable social VR headset.  For applications from gaming to medicine, to education and enterprise, there is an opportunity to create a better, more affordable all-in-one VR headset that offers a multi-user experience.  OptechVR is a plug-and-play, all-in-one device, eliminating the need for high-powered external computers or game consoles, or wires. It incorporates dual hand and room tracking technology, replacing complicated controllers with the user’s hand movement.  It can connect to other headsets, enabling users to work in teams or experience VR together.  — Matt Shumer and Sam Hollander, co-founders.
  • Prioritage, a platform for triage and real-time patient monitoring in emergencies. In events such as mass casualty situations, disasters, or large crowded ER rooms, a patient’s condition can deteriorate rapidly after initial triage, especially if there is a high ratio of patients to medical professionals.  Prioritage, a first place winner of the NYC Invent@SU program, is a wearable armband that monitors a patient’s vital signs to detect changes after triage, sending wireless alerts if conditions change, and suggesting prioritized treatment based on the rate of change post initial assessment. — Angelica O’Hara and Ibnul Rafi, co-founders.
  • Promptous, an insurance claims processing platform using blockchain technology and smart contracts to create transparency, more predictability, and prompt payment. Promptous eliminates the need for a costly third party benefits administrator, and its streamlined system, targeted for the dental insurance industry, is simpler, easier to understand, and creates secure transactions in a regulatory compliant platform. — Joshua Jackson, Timothy Kelly, Phil McKnight, co-founders.

Book talk and signing with Dave Knox, author of ‘Predicting the Turn’ on September 18

Dave Knox - Predicting the TurnDave Knox, Grand Prix Winner of the WPP Atticus Award for his book, Predicting The Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips will share his insights at a book talk and signing on Tuesday, September 18 from 10-11 a.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (room 114) at Bird Library.

Knox will discuss the new high-stakes game between disruptive startups and Blue Chip companies, teaching readers how to foresee the future, especially in an era of accelerated change.

While visiting the University, Knox will also speak with entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises classes and visit the campus entrepreneurship club.

Knox is considered an expert at disruption and innovation, and his book has been hailed as the rulebook on how to compete with a new breed of competitors playing the game by an entirely different set of rules.

“The Fortune 500 was first published in 1955, and since that time, 89 percent of the list has completely turned over,” Knox says. “When the S&P 500 was launched in 1958, the average company remained in the index for roughly 61 years. Today, an S&P 500 company is being replaced about once every two weeks.”

He makes the point that the game is not just for the tech giants and unicorns of the Silicon Valley. “Start in your own backyards. Innovation is happening in every pocket of the world, in cities and states and in countries across the globe, and you can’t just think that innovation is just a Silicon Valley thing. It’s happening everywhere.”

As a brand marketer, venture investor and startup advisor, Knox provides insight into the changing relationship between startups and Fortune 500 companies. He is considered a global thought leader in digital transformation, marketing innovation and how to meet inevitable disruption head-on–particularly if big companies develop startup-thinking skills.

“Incumbents have an opportunity to disrupt the disruptors. By taking inspiration from a startup or innovative competitor, big companies can use their scale, brand, and financial resources to launch a new effort,” he writes, but only if “the leaders of yesterday learn the rules of an entirely new game of business.”

A veteran of Procter & Gamble, managing director of WPP Ventures, CMO of Rockfish, cofounder of The Brandery venture accelerator, startup advisor, blogger and author, he frequently publishes in AdWeek, Forbes, iMedia, AdAge and Entrepreneur.

“Today, the largest companies in the world are finding themselves in the middle of a high stakes game of business between startup companies and the Fortune 500 where the bet is the very future of these big companies,” Knox says. “I wrote the book to drive a conversation around the changing relationship between startups and Fortune 500 companies, and to unlock an entirely new way for smaller companies to compete on a level playing field.”

The event, co-sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, is free of charge and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, or if you need an accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please contact launchpad@syr.edu at least one week prior to the event date.