On Wednesday night, more than one hundred student entrepreneurs gathered at the Syracuse Tech Garden for Emerging Talk – a celebration of the flourishing spirit of entrepreneurship in Central New York.This event drew attendees from everywhere between Pittsburgh and Albany, and featured over $100,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs.

Some amazing companies and products were on display -not to mention the energy and enthusiasm from the students. Companies and products ranged from straws that detect date-rape drugs, to a company that makes soap from recovered restaurant cooking oil.

Perhaps the biggest statement, though, was the sense of support that these companies found in each other and the environment fostered by the Tech Garden. Dozens of companies were awarded space in the Tech Garden over the summer, and many other companies were awarded start-up funding from The Orange Tree Fund. But most importantly, they connected with other students who are facing the same struggles, and experiencing the same victories, as they are.

As a student entrepreneur, there is often a disconnect between what you’re learning in the classroom and what you’re seeing from your business. Ideally, those two can inform each other, but sometimes the connection simply isn’t there. Add the challenges of balancing time and responsibilities, and it can quickly get overwhelming. An event like Emerging Talk goes to show all these student entrepreneurs that not only are there others who’ve been there, but there are others who can help them grow their own business, and even arrange mutually beneficial collaborations.

Many of the companies at Wednesday’s event made connections on personal and professional levels. As the Tech Garden continues to host events like this, these connections will only grow more fruitful and meaningful. The eco-system for student startups in Central New York is primed for growth, and with the support they showed on Wednesday, the only thing limiting them is the number of hours in the day.

It was an honor to participate in such an event, and my sincere gratitude goes out to those individuals and organizations who helped make it possible.

Looking forward to Emerging Talk 2011!