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RvD iPrize

RvD iPrize Logo

The Competition

The Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the School of Information Studies is hosting a pitch competition for entrepreneurial students at Syracuse University.

The RvD Fund is named after former iSchool dean Raymond Von Dran. He served from 1995 to 2007, when he passed away. Ray was a long-time academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship. His wife, Gisela, ensured that her husband’s infectious spirit for innovation lived on through the creation of the RvD fund after his death.

$50,000 is available for Syracuse students via the RvD iPrize - awarded to top participants in the competition, held every year in March. $40,000 of this prize amount is provided from the iSchool's RvD fund, and $10,000 from the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award.

Competition Tracks

Student teams can submit an application for one of the following categories:

AgTech & Food

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service that relates to agriculture, food production or distribution or food waste.

Examples: tea subscription box, crop management software, composting service, protein shakes, craft beer or alcoholic beverages, food prep subscription boxes

Energy & Environment

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental,  and/or sustainability applications.

Examples: Recycling technology, LED manufacturing technology, lithium ion batteries, clean energy crowdfunding service

Military & First Responder

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service,not included in any previous category, that relates to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry.

Examples: high temperature safety clothes, utility inspection software, drone technology, fleet management and routing software

MedTech & Well-Being

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, including mental health.

Examples: new method for testing pharmaceuticals, physical therapy massager, implant technology, suicide prevention apps, skin care solution

Technology & Entertainment

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to consumer software/online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music.

Examples: an app that helps pairs potential roommates, a website/app that uses social media to collect payments from friends, a web service designed to tailor resumes for specific jobs, a file sharing service, software platform for salon management

Consumer Products & Services

Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households.

Examples: designer eyewear, custom vending machines, camera backpack, fashion subscription box, custom clothing design

Teams are required to indicate which category they are applying for on the application and provide a one sentence explanation of why they feel they should compete in the category that they are applying in.

Events and Competition Preparation

The iSchool and the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University organize application workshops to help Syracuse students prepare for the competition. Workshops will be held in the LaunchPad space in Bird Library, with dates and times announced early in the Spring semester.

Faculty Mentorship

iSchool faculty members in the Information Technology, Design, and Startups program and Blackstone Launchpad staff are available to work with and mentor Syracuse students participating in the competition.

Braden Croy, Program Manager at the Blackstone LaunchPad
John Liddy, Adjunct Professor, and Director, Syracuse Student Sandbox incubator
Marcene Sonneborn, Assistant Professor of Practice

Questions about the iPrize and the NYBPC can be addressed to Braden Croy.


This year, the iPrize competition uses a universal application form assembled by the state organizer, the Upstate Capital Association of NY.

Students must be sure to select their region as Central New York to be considered for the RvD iPrize and NY Business Plan Competition.

The application is due on March 22.


Campus Competition Schedule

The 2019 iPrize competition will be held on Friday, March 29 from 1:00 - 6:00 p.m. at the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library.

  • 1:00-1:30 p.m. - check-in
  • 1:30-2:00 p.m. - Judges' Briefing
  • 2:00-4:30 p.m. - Pitches
  • 4:30-5:00 p.m. - Judges Deliberation
  • 5:00-5:30 p.m. - Awards Ceremony
  • 4:30-6:00 p.m. - Innovation Celebration Party
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