Applications now open for 2020 RvD iPrize Competition

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Applications are being accepted now through March 13, 2020 for the School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship pitch competition and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award (Watson Award) for full and part-time students at Syracuse University.

Registration for the RvD iPrize are through the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) and application through this portal automatically enters SU student the teams into the RvD iPrize, as well as Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for the NYBPC. Teams must select “Central New York” as the region in their NYBC application to compete in the qualifier competition.

SU students should note that completing the SU common app and selecting both the RvD iPrize and Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award is also required.  Find the LaunchPad’s common app:

The joint 2020 RvD iPrize/Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship/Compete CNY event is being held on Friday March 27, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Bird Library. The awards announcement and reception will take place at 5 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons on the first floor of the Library. The annual competition is coordinated for the iSchool by the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries.

“The iSchool has a history of supporting student innovation. This competition encourages students to pitch their ideas within the entrepreneurial community,” said Rajiv Dewan, Dean of the iSchool.

“The LaunchPad in the Libraries is the hub of interdisciplinary entrepreneurship at Syracuse University,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries. “And we are delighted to continue to partner with the iSchool to support opportunities for students.”

The RvD Fund is named after former iSchool dean Raymond Von Dran, who served from 1995 until his passing in 2007. Von Dran was a long-time academic entrepreneur and staunch supporter of student innovation. He started several innovative programs in higher education. To honor his memory and ensure that her husband’s infectious spirit for innovation continued, his wife Gisela generously created the RvD Fund. $40,000 in prizes will be awarded to top performing Syracuse University students across categories through the RvD Fund, and an additional $10,000 will be awarded to SU student teams through the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. All monies will be awarded as non-dilutive seed funding, so students will not give up any equity in their proposed business venture.

The RvD iPrize and Compete CNY competitions require that applicants select from six categories, including both for-profit and non-profit ventures. Teams must indicate which category they are applying and provide a one sentence explanation of the reason they are competing in that category. The categories are:

  • AgTech & Food — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to agriculture, food production or distribution
  • Energy & Environment — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental, and/or sustainability applications
  • Military & First Responder — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry
  • MedTech & Wellbeing — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, or mental health
  • Consumer Products & Services — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households
  • Technology & Entertainment — Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to consumer software and online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music

After completing SU’s common app, campus teams will receive important updates and information, including pitch practice workshops and other tools to prepare for the competition. Workshops will be held in the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library.

Participating teams will be asked to provide their pitch decks in advance of the competition. The top two teams from all Central New York student teams that participate in Compete CNY will be selected by a panel of independent judges to move on to the statewide finals being held in Albany, NY on May 1.

For more information about NYBPC, Compete CNY or the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, For more information about the RvD iPrize, e-mail John Liddy, Adjunct Professor, and Director, Syracuse Student Sandbox incubator, iSchool at or Marcene Sonneborn, Assistant Professor of Practice, iSchool, at or