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POSTPONED: RvD iPrize Competition

March 27, 2020, 1 p.m. - March 27, 2020, 6 p.m.

Location: Bird Library

Important Event Postponement Information

The RvD iPrize and Compete CNY competitions are postponed to a TBD future date, as per University directive regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Please see the Syracuse University Coronavirus page for the most up-to-date information.

Apply for the RvD iPrize Pitch Competition

Apply Now

Deadline to apply is March 13, 2020.

Teams are also encouraged to submit an intent to register form from Syracuse University.

About the Competition

The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is hosting the Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship (RvD) iPrize pitch competition for entrepreneurial students at Syracuse University. This year’s event is Friday March 27, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Bird Library, in conjunction with Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC).  

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 and is awarded to top participants in the competition. $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

Applicants can select from six tracks, including both for-profit and non-profit ventures:

  • AgTech & Food: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to agriculture, food production or distribution
  • Energy & Environment: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental, and/or sustainability applications
  • Military & First Responder: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry
  • MedTech & Wellbeing: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, including mental health
  • Consumer Products & Services: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households
  • Technology & Entertainment: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to consumer software and online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music

The top two teams from each category will be selected by a panel of independent judges to move on to the statewide finals in Albany, NY for generous NYBPC prize packages. The teams selected to move on to the statewide finals will be selected from all Central New York student teams that participate in Compete CNY, the regional qualifier.  RvD iPrize teams are also considered Compete CNY teams if they apply on the NYBPC website.

For more information and FAQs, please consult the Compete CNY and NYBPC informational (PDF). 


Apply Now

Applications open February 1, 2020 on the NYBPC website. The deadline to apply is March 13, 2020. 

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. Please note that it is essential to select Central New York as the region.

Additionally, teams are encouraged to submit their intent to enter the RvD iPrize on the Syracuse University common app, which is here. This will help facilitiate communication with campus teams, and provide important RvD iPrize updates, and information about pitch practice workshops, as well as other tools to prepare for the competition.

Preparation Workshops

The iSchool and the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University organize helpful 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.  To learn more, subscribe to the newsletter for updates by e-mailing

Faculty Support and 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. In particular, reach out directly to:

  • John Liddy, Adjunct Professor, and Director, Syracuse Student Sandbox incubator, iSchool,
  • Marcene Sonneborn, Assistant Professor of Practice, iSchool,
  • Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director, Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University,

Peer Support and Mentorship

The LaunchPad in Bird Library has a team of peer mentors – The Rubin Family Innovation Mentors – who can also help students prepare for the competition.  These are successful student entrepreneurs who have launched ventures, and who have won previous business plan competitions. Many are also subject matter experts with expertise in software, product design, graphic design, finance and marketing.  They hold weekly office hours in the LaunchPad and are pleased to mentor student teams. To book a meeting with a mentor, please e-mail

For more information about the regional qualifier or format of the program, please e-mail

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