Applications open for the iSchool’s RvD iPrize featuring $20,000 in prizes

Student competition photo

The School of Information Studies (iSchool), with the support of Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries, is now accepting applications for the Raymond von Dran (RvD) iPrize Competition and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. The concurrent competitions, hosted by the LaunchPad, are open to all full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students at Syracuse University. The joint event will be held on Friday March 24 at Bird Library from 2 to 5 p.m.

Students can now apply through a simple Common Application which includes a one-page executive summary for a proposed product, service, technology, or creative enterprise that may become a for-profit or non-profit enterprise. A total of $20,000 is expected to be awarded through the RvD Fund to the top performing students in various categories.

LaunchPad mentors are available to work with applicants to prepare for a five-minute pitch and five minute Q&A session with an elite panel of judges. The LaunchPad will offer offer coaching workshops during the spring semester to prepare for the competition.

The RvD fund is named after former iSchool dean Raymond von Dran, who served from 1995 until his death in 2007. He was a longtime academic entrepreneur and a staunch supporter of student innovation and started many 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.

The Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards runs concurrently with the RvD iPrize and are funded through a gift to iSchool from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund to celebrate the life of Hunter Brooks Watson. Watson was a Syracuse student studying information management at iSchool who tragically lost his life as a passenger in a distracted driver automobile accident in 2016. Watson demonstrated a strong gift and enthusiasm in music, computer technology, the performing arts, and entrepreneurship. The awards recognize students who have passionate interests but may not have the financial means to bring his ideas to life.

“Every year the excitement around these entrepreneurial and innovation competitions grows, and the quality of applications is always impressive,” says David Seaman, dean of Syracuse University Libraries and acting dean of the iSchool. “Cross-campus partnerships, like our strong collaboration with iSchool, is what makes Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries such a successful program.”

Apply here by March 10, 2023:

For more information or to schedule coaching, email