Winners have been announced for the 2019 RvD iPrize competition and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, held March 29 at Syracuse University. The event, sponsored by the School of Information Studies (iSchool), was coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and hosted by the Syracuse University Libraries.

60 student teams applied to participate in this year’s event, with 59 selected to pitch their ventures at the competition, which offered $40,000 in prizes through the Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the iSchool. The RvD Fund was established to honor the memory of former iSchool dean Ray von Dran, who helped students bring their ideas to life through the support of their entrepreneurship endavors. An additional $10,000 was also awarded through the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, established in 2018 by the family of former iSchool student Hunter Brooks Watson.

The RvD iPrize event also served as the regional qualifier for the 2019 New York State Business Plan Competition, and 12 student teams from Syracuse and other local colleges and universities were selected to move forward to the final event held in Albany on April 26. 

“I was delighted to watch students from across the University compete and recognize their hard work with the RvD iPrize,” said iSchool Dean Liz Liddy. “These awards will help ensure that they can keep their ventures moving forward.” 

“We are so grateful to Gisela von Dran, Ray’s widow, for her continued support of student entrepreneurs through the RvD fund,” added Liddy.  “Ray’s legacy of innovation lives on through students at Syracuse today because of the RvD Fund.” 

Students and ventures recognized at the iPrize event include: 

RvD iPrize Recipients

Technology and Entertainment:

  • TravSwap, $4,000, Connor Peterson (iSchool)
  • PushVR, $3,000, Aru Banks (iSchool & College of Visual and Performing Arts)
  • CLLCTVE, $4,000, Kelsey Davis (Newhouse School)
  • Promptous, $2,000, Joshua Jackson (iSchool)
  • Bluebird English, $1,000, Nidra Kilmer (College of Visual and Performing Arts)

Consumer Products and Services:

  • Bowtie Blvd., $7,000, Jacob Dehahn (College of Visual and Performing Arts)
  • LatchKey, $4,000, Jonathan Gregory (Whitman School of Management)
  • Titan Brand, $2,000, Hailee Pitcher (College of Visual and Performing Arts)
  • Spazio, $1,000, Matteo Broccolo (College of Visual and Performing Arts)

AgTech and Food:

  • FEI Tech, $1,500, Chenghao Zhang (Whitman School of Management)
  • Blood, Sweat, and Beers, $1,500, Amanda Rylee (Whitman School of Management) 

Energy and Environment:

  • PAANI, $3,000, Nikita Chatterjee (College of Arts and Sciences)

MedTech and Wellness:

  • MedUX, $6,000, Alex Gillinder (College of Visual and Performing Arts)

Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award Recipients

(Each company was awarded $2,500)

  • A.S.
  • MedUX
  • OptechVR

Companies Advancing to the New York State Business Plan Competition Finals

  • CLLCTVE (Syracuse University)
  • FEI Tech (Syracuse University)
  • In-Spire (Syracuse University)
  • MAS (Syracuse University)
  • MedUX (Syracuse University)
  • NaSo (Colgate University)
  • Nic’s Suds (Le Moyne College)
  • PAANI (Syracuse University)
  • PK Eco Storage (Wells College)
  • Prioritage (Syracuse University)
  • Promptous (Syracuse University)
  • TEGApp (Le Moyne College)

Judges for the event included successful alumni entrepreneurs – many of them graduates of the Syracuse Student Sandbox and the iSchool’s Information Technology, Design, and Startups program – technologists, attorneys, and area business and civic leaders.

“SU Libraries is delighted to host the annual RvD iPrize,” said David Seaman Dean of Libraries. “We value our partnership with the iSchool, which has expanded through the Blackstone LaunchPad, as we build a University-wide innovation ecosystem with partners across campus.  It was particularly inspiring this year to see so many alumni, who started as Student Sandbox entrepreneurs, return as judges.  They are role models for our aspiring student innovators, and we are so pleased to see them continue to engage with us.”