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:
|Dana Immerso||You’re Not Alone|
|Shawn Gaetano||Solace Vision|
|Hanna Seraji||Multi Hue Magazine|
|Claire Chevalier||Cuapa Monde Conservation|
|Justin Diaz||EcoBamboo Living|
|Murray Lebovitz||Keep Coffee Casual|
|Charis Asante-Agyel||Yum Yum|
|Jack Adler||Three Dollar Challenge|
|Patrick Prioletti||Your 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 Guardans||Sonder Films|
|Calvin Atieku||Geck Strips|
The six inclusive entrepreneurship teams include:
|Hannah Woodruff||Inclusive dining|
|Madison Reece Worden||Accessible dating app|
|Gokul Rishwanth Beeda||Inclusive and accessible education platform|
|Justin Diaz||Adaptive Xbox controller|
|Ricardo Sanchez||InclusiveU mentorship program|
|James Richard Ruhlman||Inclusive 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.