Syracuse University Advances to Regional Finals of 8th Annual Hult Prize

Story by Emily Dang:  The Hult Prize has announced the winning team from Syracuse University that has advanced to the 8th annual regional finals of the competition.

The Hult Prize is a crowdsourcing platform for social good, named one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and Time Magazine. The innovative crowdsourcing platform funds and helps launch disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. This year, the Hult Prize is focused on finding solutions for the millions of people around the world affected by the refugee crisis – a challenge personally selected by President Bill Clinton. Solutions are focused on restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies who may be, or are forced into motion due to social injustices, politics, economic pressures, climate change and war.


(left to right, Josh Moon, Amanda Chou, Ryan Brinkerhoff and Khalid Khan)

The students from the winning Syracuse University team, Thrive Projects, their hometowns and colleges are:

Thrive was one of 13 teams that applied to the inaugural Hult Prize at Syracuse University on December 10th, 2016 focused on this year’s challenge, Reawakening Human Potential – The Refugee Opportunity. Thrive provides alternative energy education and vocational training to communities in need, empowering them with the skills necessary to find innovative solutions to everyday problems and to build those solutions into sustainable enterprises.

“Having worked in Nepal, our team learned two important lessons. Refugees are not only people forced to leave their homes, but people isolated from resources that enable them to connect and communicate.  By focusing beyond immediate solutions and empowering community members through skills-based training, we can restore human dignity, awaken human potential and create more sustainable communities,” said Ryan Brinkerhoff, Co-Founder/CFO Thrive Projects, Inc.

The team will now move on to compete at the Hult Prize regional finals in March 2017, which are being hosted at one of Hult International Business School’s five campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Syracuse University Student Association is sponsoring an all-expenses paid trip for the winning team to compete in Boston

Following the regional finals, one winning team from each host city will advance to an intensive 8-week summer business incubator, where they will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. The final round of competition will take place in September, where a jury panel will select the annual Hult Prize winner.  President Bill Clinton  will personally make the award of USD 1,000,000 to the winning team.


“It was humbling and refreshing to see such a diverse group of students, faculty and community members from Syracuse come together to participate in the inaugural Hult Prize at Syracuse University. We had over 40 undergraduate and graduate students across all disciplines compete in this year’s on-campus competition,” said Emily Dang, Campus Director of Hult Prize at Syracuse University.

Judges included Abdul Saboor (Match Grant Caseworker, Interfaith Works – Center for New Americans), Braden Croy (Program Manager, Syracuse University Blackstone Launchpad) and Marcene Sonneborn (Professor of Practice, School of Information Studies and President, Innovation Management Consulting, Inc.)

Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of the Hult Prize attributes the success of the competition to the global youth revolution. He said, “We continue to be moved by the large number of students from around the world who are capitalizing on the opportunity to develop business models that target those who are most in need. We wish every team the best of luck and thank Syracuse University for supporting this initiative.”

About the Hult Prize Foundation

The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship, which brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The annual initiative is the world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for social good, and has been funded by the Hult family since its inception in 2009.

To learn more about the Hult Prize, visit

Press Contacts

Emily Dang, Campus Director of Hult Prize at Syracuse University,

Blackstone LaunchPad hosts Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs program Sept. 8

Tameka-Montgomery-sba-400-pixelsWomen entering the workplace have been the driving force behind economic growth, according to recent Kauffman Foundation research. Yet, they are still half as likely as men to become entrepreneurs. How can more women become entrepreneurial, and unleash their creativity and ingenuity?

The campus community is invited to join the conversation at “Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs,” set for Sept. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Bird Library. The event features “Living Legend” Tameka Montgomery as keynote speaker, along with a dynamic panel of student, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs. Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly will offer welcoming remarks.

“I am delighted that Syracuse University is able to host this conference dedicated to promoting and supporting female entrepreneurship,” says Wheatly. “In today’s marketplace, business start-ups are one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and professional success, and yet women still lag significantly behind men in launching new business ventures. This conference is an opportunity for them to learn from one another and to build and nurture those critical connections that have been found to be so important to women’s success as aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.”

The event kicks off with a 4 p.m. networking session at the new Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, followed by a 4:30 p.m. program in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons with the keynote speaker and entrepreneur panel. It concludes with a resource fair featuring campus and community connectors. The event is free and open to the campus community. Registration is requested by email to

Presidential appointee Tameka Montgomery leads the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), spearheading programs that serve more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs and small businesses nationwide. She oversees the SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Centers, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, and the Office of Entrepreneurship Education. The winner of numerous innovation awards, she was recognized as a Living Legend by the National Council of Negro Women. She was former executive director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, where she won national accolades for building an entrepreneurship ecosystem there. Montgomery was previously a Presidential Management Fellow, and launched her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving two years in West Africa.

Following her remarks, an entrepreneur panel will be moderated by Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University. Panelists include:

  • Student venture – Melux, LLC, Co-founders Kristina Taylor ’17 and Kyla Brown ’16
  • Alumni venture – EB Active, Founder and SSIC Entrepreneur in Residence Gabriela Escalante ’16
  • Faculty venture – Brainview Technologies, Founder Dr. Leanne Hirshfield
  • Community venture – The Sweet Praxis, Co-founders Natalie Hansen and Jennifer Walls
  • SBIR-backed venture – TextWise Founder Liz Liddy, Dean of the iSchool
  • SBA-backed venture – Sky Armory/the Events Company, CSEP, President and Creative Director Nicole T. Samolis

Following the program, participants can explore resource tables in the Bird Library Learning Commons, and meet invited providers, which include:

  • The WISE Women’s Business Center
  • The South Side Innovation Center
  • Falcone Center and Couri Hatchery
  • Whitman EClub and Whitman Women in Business
  • Blackstone LaunchPad
  • VISION Entrepreneurship Club
  • It Girls Alumnae, SWEEP (Society for Women’s Empowerment and Engagement Partners), WIT-G (Women in Technology-Graduate) and WIT-U (Women in Technology-Undergraduate)
  • Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Newhouse
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • New York State Small Business Development Center
  • New York Business Development Corporation
  • The Excelsior Growth Fund
  • LaunchNY Venture Development Organization
  • Upstate Venture Connect and Start Fast Accelerator
  • The Syracuse Technology Garden and Syracuse Student Sandbox

The event is designed to provide a framework for aspiring women entrepreneurs who want to explore how to launch an idea. It is being coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, a new cross-campus entrepreneurship resource center funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, the program provides support for ideation and venture development, connects entrepreneurs to Syracuse University’s robust innovation ecosystem, and offers access to national and global resources through the Blackstone network.

Co-sponsors include the New York Business Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, WISE Women’s Business Center, and The Syracuse Technology Garden. WISE (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) was launched in 2003 by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. It is also supported through the U.S. SBA as part of a national network of Women’s Business Centers that help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and compete in the global marketplace.

Libraries host Welcome Fest on September 1

The Syracuse University Libraries invite all students, faculty and staff to a Welcome Fest onLibrary-534x400 Thursday, September 1, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the first floor of Bird Library. The event will feature resources and services the Libraries provide to support teaching, learning and research across campus, as well as a photo booth, games, food, prizes and more.

Meet librarians and library staff who will be on hand to answer questions and share information on a range of topics, including:

  • AskUs! service – connecting to library experts day or night;
  • Finding the perfect study space – individual, group, or technology-equipped;
  • Improving student research skills – course-related instruction;
  • Tools for finding books, articles, and other materials;
  • Research Services – data, citation, and reputation management;
  • Scholarly publishing – SU Press and the SURFACE repository;
  • Library to Go delivery services;
  • Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship center;
  • “Sound Beat,” the Libraries’ public radio show;
  • Interlibrary loan – obtaining items from other libraries;
  • Reserving material and booking video for classes;
  • Technology for loan;
  • Special Collections, University Archives, and SU Press resources.

A number of partner organizations are also participating this year, including SU Makerspace, Public Safety, Academic Integrity Office, Tutoring and Study Center, Onondaga County Public Library, SU Transit, Go Team Therapy Dogs, and more.

Tours will be available by request. For more information, contact

Kingma hosts group from China’s Tsinghua University

School of Information Studies (iSchool) Professor of Entreprenurship Bruce Kingma hosted a group of visiting scholars from China’s Tsinghua University this week, bringing them to campus as part of a tour of East Coast colleges and universities to study how entrepreneurship education and programs are administered in the United States.

Bruce Kingma, third from left, with the visiting group from Tsinghua University
Bruce Kingma, third from left, with the visiting group from Tsinghua University

Members of the Department of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Tsinghua’s School of Economics and Management, the group of eight scholars spent two days with Kingma and other Syracuse University hosts before heading to Cornell University, the University of Rochester, Duke University, the University of North Carolina, Babson College, MIT and Harvard University.

During their time in Syracuse, the group met with faculty and staff affiliated with the following student and entrepreneurship programs:

“Syracuse University was proud to host faculty and students from Tsinghua interested in entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Kingma. “For the past year, Syracuse and Tsinghua have partnered on the Global Sandbox— bringing students from around the world together to start micro-multinational ventures.  These students look to infuse the Syracuse model of experiential entrepreneurship education into the Tsinghua University curriculum.”

Braden Croy named Program Manager, Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University

Braden_Croy-400x400Braden Croy will join the Blackstone LaunchPad team on July 18 as Program Manager, supporting the expansion of the new experiential entrepreneurship program located in Bird Library.

In this new role, Croy will work with Executive Director Linda Dickerson Hartsock on project implementation milestones, particularly in regard to faculty and student outreach, to develop an entrepreneurial pipeline. Among his responsibilities will be to expand the number of ventures enrolled in the Blackstone LaunchPad platform, to assist with student coaching, and to develop events and activities that foster connections and team building across Syracuse University’s innovation ecosystem.

A graduate of Virginia Tech, Croy has been an active member of the campus and community entrepreneurship network. He served as a program manager for the StartFast Venture Accelerator, a facilitator for the New Explorations in Information and Science (NEXIS) program and the Syracuse Student Sandbox, and was part of a Syracuse enterprise startup based at the Tech Garden. He was a student entrepreneur at Virginia Tech, as founder and CEO of Cloud Conservatory. He has been a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops on building entrepreneurial networks, including a number of international workshops. He enjoys telling the story of how he started his path as an entrepreneur at age five, picking vegetables out of his parents’ garden and selling them back at a significant markup.

An as active member of entrepreneur communities at both Virginia Tech and Syracuse University, Croy has participated in Spring Break in Silicon Valley, Entretech, TEDx, and Startup Weekends in Syracuse and in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he won prizes. He was student president of the Virginia Tech Entrepreneurship Club, and also the recipient of the prestigious K50 Award from the Kairos Society, which recognizes the most innovative student startups in the world.

“Entrepreneurship embodies Braden’s leadership style,” said Hartsock. “He’s an innovative thinker with a track record as both a student and community entrepreneur, and has a keen understanding of technologies, products, markets and teams that lead to successful startup companies.”

“Syracuse University has contributed significantly to the growing field of entrepreneurship,” said Croy. “This position represents an opportunity to grow an inclusive, results-driven, cross-campus entrepreneurship ecosystem as a member of Blackstone’s international network. I’ve never come across a more dedicated and energetic group of entrepreneurship educators and community members than here at Syracuse University.”

Croy will be based at the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library and can be reached via Twitter @pbcroy or via e-mail:

Six student teams advance to NYS Business Plan Competition

Sixteen SU student ventures divided $60,000 in cash prizes as part of the CompeteCNY regional qualifier for the New York State Business Plan Competition. Of those, six will go on to Albany April 29 for a statewide competition. But one company is going even further. Thrive Projects —the winner of the social entrepreneurship category and the overall top cash prize winner—is leaving May 23 for the Katmandu region of Nepal, where its members will be working this summer to deploy their technology. Thrive Projects is headed up by Brian Kam ’16, Ryan Brinkerhoff ’17 and Joshua Moon ’16.

Ryan Brinkerhoff, Brian Kam and Joshua Moon, from left, with their S.P.A.R.K. system.

Thrive Projects is a Type B not-for-profit corporation formed for charitable and educational purposes. The company is developing the S.P.A.R.K. system—short for Solar-Powered Auxiliary Relief Kiosk. The innovative device uses a 50-watt solar panel to charge a 12-volt battery that can be used to power devices utilizing rechargeable batteries. The unit can provide power via a standard outlet, USB port or car plug with a power invertor.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000 in just 15 seconds on April 25, 2015, with a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurring May 12, followed minutes later by a 6.3 magnitude quake. Tremors continue in the region.

The team is bringing four assembled units and components to build four additional units once in Nepal. Working with local communities, the group will educate local residents on how to use the system. More importantly, they will teach local residents how to build the units themselves, using easy-to-procure, affordable parts. In that way, local communities will understand how S.P.A.R.K. can help provide immediate renewable energy solutions in emergency situations, and also as a strategy for self-sufficiency as an off-the-grid solution to healthcare, communication and infrastructure challenges that result from disaster or humanitarian crises.

Kam is the founder and director of Thrive Projects Inc. A native of Rochester and former U.S. Infantry Marine (2003-2007), he is majoring in international relations and Middle Eastern studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. As a Maxwell student, Kam connected with Aythos, a NGO co-founded by Maxwell School alumnus Beau Miller G’10, which has worked in Nepal for six years. He has worked in Nepal and in other areas around the globe as part of relief teams, and plans to continue his education at nursing school, developing additional skills to deliver critical medical care, public health and other relief services.

Thrive Projects co-founder Brinkerhoff is pursuing degrees in policy studies and economics, and has worked on the communications teams at the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Moon, another company co-founder, is majoring in biology, with plans to attend medical school. He will be working at Mt. Sinai Hospital doing clinical work as well as lab research when he returns from Nepal.

“I’m doing this to give voice to the voiceless,” says Brinkerhoff, “and to show those who feel alone that they have not been forgotten.”

“Thrive to me is about reaching out and caring for those who live in communities that have been forgotten and left behind,” adds Moon.

“While I cannot leverage against all the critical issues Nepali villages will face in the future, I have the utmost confidence my first-hand experience installing solar-powered charging kiosks will be of significant and critical importance to alleviate the ongoing and future challenges that will take place in Nepal as result of ensuing earthquakes,” notes Kam. “Since my departure from Nepal in August 2015, I have longed to return to Nepal to continue the humanitarian work that I found so critical and rewarding to those who continue to be effected.”

Working with Aythos, Kam did a self-funded Nepali earthquake disaster relief tour as a volunteer relief coordinator. He worked to help meet immediate post-disaster needs such as emergency shelter, medical and food distribution, as well as early-recovery phases that included clean water and energy solutions. From that unique vantage, he developed the concept of rechargeable solar-powered charging kiosks to facilitate emergency communications, lighting and use of small electronics and power tools. He realized that rural communities affected by natural disasters could be cut off from relief access up for up to one or two weeks at a time.

When he returned from Nepal, he set up a GoFundMe page to fund the development of S.P.A.R.K. units to bring to villages in Nepal this summer and beyond. So far, the team has raised $4,226, and they estimate that the $10,000 in CompeteCNY prize winnings will help them build 28 more systems.

Thrive Projects has been working with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University to refine its deployment plan, as well as its pitch at the upcoming statewide competition.

Twenty-nine Syracuse University teams competed in the CompeteCNY regional qualifier for the New York State business plan competition, hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad, located in Bird Library. The top 16 were selected by independent judges to receive $60,000 in prize money provided through the Provost’s Office to help advance their ideas. The awards were presented at the grand opening of the LaunchPad on April 19.

The winning campus teams are:

Green Energy and Sustainability: Thrive Project

Information Technology and Software: Beauty Beat, co-founded by Kristina Taylor and Kyla Brown; Power Spike, founded by Angelo Damiano; HoDe, founded by Cayes Delpeche; AgriSense, founded by John Herb; Nu Casting, founded by Elisha McGinnis; Darkchart, founded by Alec Ellin; Football Alarm, founded by Pritesh Desai

Products and Services:  Out There Productions, co-founded by Erin Miller, Johnny Rosa and Losa Amara Meru; EB Active, founded by Gabriella Escalante; Know Your Rights, founded by Alex Brown and Phil Iannuzzi; ZiZi, founded by Kalia Barrow; Brevite, founded by Dylan Kim

Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit: Design to Table, co-founded by Ryan Pierson and Ryn Adkins; SOYL Connect, founded by Kevin Claiborne; and StudentTicket, founded by Richard Lewis.

The six teams moving to the New York State finals are Thrive, Beauty Beat, Power Spike, Out There, Design to Table and SOYL.

Entrepreneurs Wiley Cerilli, Patrick Ambron to participate in Blackstone LaunchPad Grand Opening

Two high-profile entrepreneurs who attended the University will be featured guests at the grand opening of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University on April 19.  The 1 p.m. event at Bird Library includes a formal ceremony, ribbon cutting, reception and student venture demos.

As part of the LaunchPad kick-off, Wiley Cerilli, co-CEO and founder of Good Uncle, and Patrick Ambron ’09, co-founder and CEO of BrandYourself, will join Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy in awarding $60,000 in prizes to Syracuse University student winners of the CompeteCNY business plan competition.

More than three dozen Syracuse University student ventures are pitching their business concepts at the LaunchPad on April 14 at the regional qualifier for the New York State Business Plan Competition, considered the country’s premier collegiate contest. Teams are competing in: Information Technology/Software; Energy/Sustainability; Products/Services; and Social Entrepreneurship/Nonprofit Ventures.

Cerilli and Ambron will recognize student teams advancing to the New York State finals and award $60,000 in CompeteCNY prizes to Syracuse University student ventures to help take their innovations to the next stage.  The statewide competition, hosted by Syracuse University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and University at Albany’s School of Business, will be held April 29 in Albany, with a $100,000 grand prize.

The CompeteCNY awards are part of student demos following the LaunchPad opening ceremony and ribbon cutting. Cerilli and Ambron will be on hand to meet, mingle and host an intimate, informal conversation in the LaunchPad with student entrepreneurs on lessons learned as they started and scaled their successful businesses.

Wiley Cerilli

Cerilli, who attended the iSchool, founded SinglePlatform in 2010, raising $4.5 million in two rounds, then selling the two-year old start-up to Constant Contact for $100 million. Following the sale, he became vice president at Constant Contact, then venture partner for First Round Capital in New York, and was named a “Top 25 CEO” in New York and “Top 10 People to Watch” by Crain’s.

He recently co-founded Good Uncle, which raised $2.2 million from institutional investors including First Round, Box Group and tech law firm Gunderson Dettmer. The new venture is a food delivery service featuring items from the world’s most iconic restaurants and chefs, ordered through an immersive, content-rich mobile app.  It builds on his experience as an early employee at Seamless, a food-ordering site created by Jason Finger.  As one of the original employees, Cerilli spent 10 years at Seamless, helping it become one of fastest growing companies in the country before being acquired by ARAMARK.

Patrick Ambron

Ambron ’09, a dual major in advertising (Newhouse School) and psychology (College of Arts and Sciences),
co-founded BrandYourself with a team of Syracuse University students and went on to become a nationally recognized expert in online reputation management and search engine optimization. He was honored by the White House as one of Empact’s 100 Top CEOs under 30, named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA and selected as Inc. Magazine’s Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35. Entrepreneur Magazine picked BrandYourself as a Top 5 Collegiate Startup, PCWorld named the company a Top 5 Hottest Web Apps at SXSW and the company won the SXSW Accelerator Competition as Best Bootstrapped Startup.

Most recently, Ambron represented BrandYourself on ABC’s Shark Tank, where he walked away from a $2 million offer, one of the highest in the show’s history. He has led BrandYourself to raise several rounds of venture capital and grown it from a student start-up to more than 75 full-time employees. His ideas have been featured on ABC News, CBS News, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Mashable, TechCrunch, WSJ, the NY Times, US News & World Report and many others. He helped co-develop the new media curriculum at Syracuse University’s iSchool.

The Blackstone LaunchPad opening ceremony starts at 1 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons on the first floor of Bird Library. It will include remarks by: Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud; David Seaman, University Librarian and Dean of Syracuse University Libraries; Liddy; Erik Lisher, managing director in Blackstone’s Investor Relations & Business Development Group and member of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Board of Directors; Robert Simpson, president and CenterState CEO; Judy Mower, Syracuse University Trustee, chair of the Libraries Advisory Board; Erin Miller ’16, Out There Productions; and Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director, Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.

Following the 30-minute ceremony, guests are invited to stay for the ribbon cutting, reception and student venture demos in the LaunchPad from approximately 1:30-3 p.m., with the opportunity to meet and speak with Cerilli and Ambron.

NYS Business Plan Competition comes to Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University

The Blackstone LaunchPad and Syracuse University Libraries will host CompeteCNY, the regional qualifying event for the 2016 New York State Business Plan Competition. The event will be held on April 14 from 4–6 p.m. at Bird Library. Regional winners will advance to the April 29 statewide competition in Albany, which features a $100,000 grand prize.

CompeteCNY is open to all undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in a Central New York Blackstone-LaunchPad-SU-logo-2college or university. In addition to Syracuse University, these include SUNY ESF, SUNY Upstate, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Morrisville, Onondaga Community College, Cayuga Community College, Le Moyne College, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Wells College and Cazenovia College.

While all students can compete for the $100,000 statewide grand prize, only Syracuse University students can vie for an additional $60,000 provided by the University for SU student teams that win the April 14 competition. Those winners will be announced at the official Blackstone LaunchPad grand opening set for April 19 at Bird Library.

Students are invited to submit in the following categories:

Information and Technology/Software
Any idea, technology, product and/or service that relates to apps, informational technology, software and/or internet applications in for-profit enterprises. If the value that a company provides lies in the creation of or is delivered through an app, it belongs in this category.

Any idea, technology, product and/or service that relates to healthcare, biomedical, pharmaceutical and/or life science applications.

Any idea, technology, product and/or service that relates to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental and/or sustainability applications.

Nanotechnology/Advanced Technology
Any idea, technology, product and/or service that relates to materials science, advanced hardware, semiconductors, optics and/or electronics applications.

Social Entrepreneurship/Nonprofit
Any idea, product, and/or service that addresses a social need, for which profit is not the primary motivation, or provides a product/service for nonprofits. Apps and websites with nonprofit missions should compete in this category.

Any idea, product, and/or service that does not fit any of the other categories above.

Check-in is 4 p.m. at the Blackstone LaunchPad and pitches will be held in various locations in Bird Library. The wrap-up session will be in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons at 6 p.m., when two winning teams in each of the six categories will be announced.

Regional winners will go on to compete for the $100,000 state grand prize on April 29 in Albany against other regional semi-final winners from New York’s nine other Regional Economic Development Council districts—Capital Region, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island.

Details, competition rules and the CNY application are available through the CompeteCNY website, with more information about the statewide competition available on the NYBPC website. A template is provided for presentations. Applications for CompeteCNY close April 5 and presentation materials must be submitted by April 12.

Grand Opening of Blackstone LaunchPad slated for April 19 in Bird Library

The University community is invited to celebrate the grand opening of the Blackstone LaunchPad Tuesday, April 19.

The Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library is now open. To celebrate the occasion, the University community is invited to a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 19, from 1-2 p.m. on the first floor of Bird Library. Special guests include:

  • Kent Syverud, Chancellor
  • David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian
  • Elizabeth D. Liddy, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost
  • Erik Lisher, Managing Director, Blackstone Investor Relations & Business Development Group, and member of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Board of Directors
  • Robert Simpson, President and Chief Executive Officer, CenterState CEO
  • Patrick Ambron, ’09, CEO and Co-Founder, Brand
  • Judy Mower, University Trustee
  • Erin Miller ’16, Out There Productions
  • Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad

The event will also feature student demonstrations of their entrepreneurial projects, tours of the LaunchPad’s new facility and a reception.

Housed in a highly visible glass cube on the first floor of Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad is a cross-campus entrepreneurship program funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation that serves Syracuse University faculty, staff, students and alumni, regardless of major or experience. Through individualized coaching and support, the Blackstone LaunchPad helps students bring their ideas to life and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. The LaunchPad complements SU’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives, connecting them to a national and global network that supports aspiring entrepreneurs.

The LaunchPad’s flexible space can be used for ideation workshops, team meetings, co-working, networking events, coaching and training sessions, venture demos, product launches, as well as other collaborative activities.

The Blackstone LaunchPad program features one-one-one mentoring; a unique technology platform to facilitate exchange between academic programs, institutions, and industry partners; tools to support startups; world-class content developed by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation; national and global connections to venture leaders; and Blackstone LaunchPad events and programs to provide opportunities for students from across the global network to connect and innovate.

University to host state-qualifying entrepreneurship competition

The University will host a student entrepreneurship pitch competition on April 14 for teams interested in qualifying for the upcoming New York Business Plan Competition. The Syracuse event, which will take place at 4 p.m. in the Blackstone Student LaunchPad at Bird Library, will determine which student teams from the state’s Central Region will go on to compete in the statewide competition April 29.

In addition to determining qualifiers for the statewide event, the Syracuse competition will award a total of $60,000 in prize money to winning applicants in six categories, with the money to be distributed based on category popularity. Teams are eligible for up to $10,000 in prize money.

The categories, which mirror the category structure for the state competition, are:

  • Information Technology/Software
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare
  • Nanoscience/Advanced Technology
  • Energy/Sustainability
  • Products/Services
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Nonprofit

Student teams interested in competing must apply by April 5. From those applicants, a pool of finalists will be selected based on established criteria from past state selections. At the April 14 pitch competition, those finalists will have five minutes to pitch their ideas before a panel of judges and another five minutes to respond to judges’ questions. Distinct judging panels will be designated for each category.

At the conclusion of the event, two Central New York representatives from each category will be selected to go on to the state competition. Prizes from the campus event will be awarded at the opening ceremony of the Blackstone Student LaunchPad.

As the regional qualifier for the state competition, the Syracuse event is open to student teams from Syracuse University as well as other Central New York colleges and universities. Interested applicants should apply via the Central Region New York State Application website here.

Persons interested in more information or in assisting as judges or in another volunteer capacity should contact John Liddy, director of the Student Sandbox at Syracuse University and coordinator for the Syracuse competition, at, or visit the competition website.

For more information on the statewide New York Business Plan competition, go to the competition website here.