Accepting applications through April 5 for the first Syracuse University Intelligence ++ $30,000 idea competition

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Applications are due by April 5 for the upcoming Intelligence ++ Competition, the first ever at Syracuse University. Supported by a generous gift to SU Libraries by Gianfranco Zaccai ’70 H’09 and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++), the competition challenge is focused on inclusive design within an entrepreneurial context. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines, with a $30,000 prize package.  

Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged to submit proposals for products, services or technologies that address problems or create new opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families.  Teams will pitch on April 16 to a panel of experts.

Apply for the competition here or contact to join an existing team.  Some teams have already formed and are looking for skill sets such as engineering, architecture, software and information technology, business and finance, marketing communications, digital content and more. 

Intelligence ++ is an innovative, interdisciplinary program focused on inclusive entrepreneurship and design that launched this year in a partnership between the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education (InclusiveU), the  College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and of the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars (LaunchPad) at Syracuse University Libraries.

The program was funded through a generous donation by Gianfranco Zaccai ’70 H’09 and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++). The program culminates in a design and entrepreneurship competition with $30,000 in prizes.

A highlight of the program is an inclusive entrepreneurship and design course, DES 400-600, taught by Don Carr, professor in VPA’s School of Design, with support from Beth Myers, assistant professor of inclusive education in the School of Education and executive director of the Taishoff Center. Linda Dickerson-Hartsock, adjunct faculty member in the Whitman School and executive director of the LaunchPad provides additional program support, along with alumni mentors and student assistants.

The flagship program is made possible through the support of the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence, founded by Gianfranco Zaccai. The Zaccai Foundation seeks to develop, stimulate and leverage technological, educational and organizational innovation to enable and empower individuals with intellectual disability, their families and their communities to improve quality of life, enhance independence and productivity, lower cost and benefit society.

Zaccai, a renowned global innovator and designer, serves as a mentor for the course. He was co-founder of Continuum, now EPAM Continuum, a global innovation by design consultancy with offices in Boston, Milan, Seoul and Shanghai. He is a champion of holistic and interdisciplinary innovation research, design and development. His vision has resulted in many highly successful category-defining products, including the Reebok Pump, P&G’s Swiffer and the Omnipod Insulin Delivery System. For more than 35 years, Continuum has been recognized for outstanding innovation and design for projects spanning medical devices to consumer products.

 Zaccai also previously served on the VPA Council and was conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in Industrial and Interaction Design by Syracuse University.

For more information about the program or the competition, contact Don Carr at, Beth Myers at or Linda Dickerson Hartsock at