27 teams to compete in this year’s Impact Prize

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A total of 27 teams have been announced for the 2020 Impact Prize competition.  The Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries coordinates the event for students working on ventures that create a social impact. The virtual competition on November 13 will feature $15,000 in prizes thanks to generous donations from Libraries’ donors Carl and Marcy Armani, in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse, and Dr. Gisela von Dran. 

Teams were selected from applicants across campus to pitch products, services, or technologies that are practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to societal problems anywhere around the globe.  Examples of ventures include solutions that address energy, environment, employment, education and training, health and mental health, community and social networks, social inclusion, poverty and literacy, youth empowerment, food, sustainability, access, and important public policy goals.  

Additionally, six teams from a new inclusive entrepreneurship program, jointly offered by VPA, InclusiveU and the LaunchPad will compete for a separate $1,000 prize package for innovations that offer solutions for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The “Sweet Sixteen” round includes:

Ryan OndocinSatellite
Dana ImmersoYou’re Not Alone
Sardorek AskarovAphinity
Shawn GaetanoSolace Vision
Russell FearonSugEx
Hanna SerajiMulti Hue Magazine
Claire ChevalierCuapa Monde Conservation
Justin DiazEcoBamboo Living
Murray LebovitzKeep Coffee Casual
Charis Asante-AgyelYum Yum
Mario GarciaPairinc
Sam HollanderFSCL
Jackson EnsleyPopcycle
Fardin NasirField
Jack AdlerThree Dollar Challenge
Patrick PriolettiYour Perfect Dose

Four teams will be selected by judges from “The Sweet Sixteen” to advance to the “Final Four” round. 

In addition, there is a Wild Card room of other teams who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey at the LaunchPad.

Raul Hernandez GuardansSonder Films
Lauren LevinvintageU
Ben FordDonation
Mashundra MaclinJuggernaut
Calvin AtiekuGeck Strips
Neil AdamsNooCof

The six inclusive entrepreneurship teams include:

Hannah WoodruffInclusive dining
Madison Reece WordenAccessible dating app
Gokul Rishwanth BeedaInclusive and accessible education platform
Justin DiazAdaptive Xbox controller
Ricardo SanchezInclusiveU mentorship program
James Richard RuhlmanInclusive interactive installation

Judges for the Impact Prize are alumni who have either launched ventures or are in innovation careers, and who have come through the LaunchPad program.  They include: 

  • Amanda Chou, Kaiser Permanente
  • Audrey Miller, Watson Institute
  • Dylan Gans, Good Uncle
  • Jack McCarthy, Prosek Partners
  • Josh Jackson, Promptous
  • Kate Beckman, Ripple Match
  • Kennedy Patlan, Ashoka
  • Phil McKnight, Promptous
  • Ryan Williams, Good Life Foundation

This year’s competition includes a $10,000 Dr. Gay Culverhouse Impact Award prize package through a gift from SU Libraries Advisory Board Member Carl Armani and his wife Marcy, made in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse.  David Seaman, Dean of SU Libraries and University Librarian said, “We are very pleased to be able to honor and memorialize Dr. Culverhouse in this fashion, which is very much in keeping with the work Dr. Culverhouse did with football players and brain injury.  She was clearly someone focused on creating meaningful social impact and change, just as our students are, and I’m sure her story will resonate with them.”

The Impact Prize is also funded through a $5,000 gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, director emerita of the School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) Master of Science in Library and Information Science program, who has a special interest in social entrepreneurship.  As a member of the iSchool faculty, she taught organization management courses at the graduate level. Before joining the iSchool, Dr. von Dran served as an assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management.  She is the wife of Raymond von Dran, former dean of the iSchool from 1995 until his death in 2007. Von Dran was a longtime academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. Shortly after his death in 2007, Gisela von Dran established the Raymond F. von Dran Fund.