Joshua Aviv ’14 G’17, an alumnus of the Information Management M.S. program at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), has advanced to the final round of a $5 million startup competition in Buffalo, NY.


Aviv, founder and CEO of SparkCharge, a portable, fast charging unit for electric vehicles, will compete in two rounds of live pitching at 43North, a Buffalo-based startup competition offering eight cash awards, including a $1 million grand prize and seven awards of $500,000.

43North grew out of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Launched in 2012, Buffalo Billion provided for a $1 billion investment in the Buffalo-area economy to create jobs and spur new investment and economic activity. 43North was launched 2 years later to generate new business ventures in Western New York, support early-stage firm growth, and attract additional venture funding to the region.

Aviv’s company began as a student project in the Syracuse Student Sandbox accelerator under the guidance of iSchool adjunct faculty member and Sandbox director John Liddy. From there, the company joined the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and then was selected to participate as part of the Techstars startup network in Boston. 

SparkCharge’s electric vehicle charging unit is small enough to fit in the trunk of a car, and charges electric vehicle batteries at level 3 speed, giving drivers one mile for every 60 seconds. Research and development initiatives for Aviv’s company are based at the Syracuse University Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE).

Aviv is no stranger to pitch competitions. In addition to landing himself a slot at the TechStars accelerator earlier this year, Aviv also won the $100,000 grand prize at the New York State Business Plan Competition in 2017. In the run-up to the New York finals, Aviv also took first place in the 2017 Compete CNY regional qualifier, and first place in the joint iSchool / Blackstone LaunchPad iPrize competition

In Buffalo, Aviv will compete against 17 other finalists from across the country. In addition to the cash prizes of up to $1 million, winners also receive formal mentorship, 12 months of free incubator space, marketing assistance, and freedom from New York State taxes for 10 years, both for their company and the personal income of their employees. Winners are expected to move to Buffalo in early 2019.

The competition finals will be held on Wednesday, October 3 at 6:00 p.m. at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo. Tickets are required to attend the event, and are free of charge.