Show your passion for innovation at the HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards on March 29

Hunter Brooks Watson in a winter scene

The HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards were created to recognize students who have demonstrated a real passion and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and are actively pursuing a venture idea.  Four awards of $2,500 — a total of $10,000 — will be presented in the six competition categories at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) RvD iPrize this year on March 29, 2019. The award is available to undergraduate or graduate SU student competing in the RvD iPrize, and on-line applications are due March 15.

Awards will be selected by the RvD iPrize judges in the following categories:  AgTech and Food; Energy and Environment; Military and First Responder; MedTech and Well-Being; Technology an Entertainment; Consumer Products  and Services. Judging criteria for the awards include:

  • Passion and spirit;
  • Intrinsic drive that pushed the entrepreneurs to pursue this venture, and the likeliness that the team will pursue the venture;
  • Level of cooperation and camaraderie between the team members;
  • Innovative idea and a clear plan of the continuation of the venture;
  • Engagement during Q&A, showing rapport as well as technical competence.

The awards, funded through a generous gift to the iSchool from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund, help to celebrate the life of Hunter Brooks Watson, a Syracuse student studying Information Management at the iSchool who tragically lost his life as a passenger in a distracted driver automobile accident in 2016. Hunter demonstrated a strong gift and enthusiasm in music – having a music video reach millions of hits, computer technology, performance art and entrepreneurship. “Hunter’s interest and ability to foresee the developing trends of his age can be found in the many kids like Hunter,” said his father Jerry Watson, “and those are the young this fund will seek to support with their ideas, enthusiasm and dreams.”

The Fund was established to aid students to students who display immense passion and drive for their venture and ideas, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson. The awards recognize students who have passionate interests in areas comparable to those that motivated Hunter, but who may not have the financial means to do so.

The HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards will be given out as part at the RvD iPrize, which will take place in Bird Library from 1 p.m. -6 p.m. on March 29, 2019. This will also be a celebration of “Ten Years of Innovation” at the iSchool, recognizing a decade of student startups through the Information, Technology, Design and Startups minor and the Student Sandbox.  The event will also celebrate the leadership of iSchool Dean Liz Liddy who has been a pioneer for student innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the generosity of the vonDran family and supporters of the RvD fund.

To register and compete for the RvD iPrize and the HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, click here!

Highlights about the RvD iPrize — please visit the iSchool website for full details:

The Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the School of Information Studies is hosting a pitch competition for entrepreneurial students at Syracuse University.  The RvD Fund is named after former iSchool dean Raymond Von Dran. He served from 1995 to 2007, when he passed away. Ray was a long-time academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship. His wife, Gisela, ensured that her husband’s infectious spirit for innovation lived on through the creation of the RvD fund after his death.  $40,000 is available for Syracuse students via the RvD iPrize – awarded to top participants in the competition, held every year in March.

Student teams can submit an application for one of the following categories:

  • AgTech and Food  – Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service that relates to agriculture, food production or distribution or food waste.  Examples: tea subscription box, crop management software, composting service, protein shakes, craft beer or alcoholic beverages, food prep subscription boxes
  • Energy and EnvironmentAny idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental,  and/or sustainability applications. Examples: Recycling technology, LED manufacturing technology, lithium ion batteries, clean energy crowdfunding service
  • Military and First ResponderAny idea, technology, process, product, and/or service,not included in any previous category, that relates to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry. Examples: high temperature safety clothes, utility inspection software, drone technology, fleet management and routing software
  • MedTech and Well-BeingAny idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, including mental health. Examples: new method for testing pharmaceuticals, physical therapy massager, implant technology, suicide prevention apps, skin care solution
  • Technology & EntertainmentAny idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to consumer software/online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music. Examples: an app that helps pairs potential roommates, a website/app that uses social media to collect payments from friends, a web service designed to tailor resumes for specific jobs, a file sharing service, software platform for salon management
  • Consumer Products and ServicesAny idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households. Examples: designer eyewear, custom vending machines, camera backpack, fashion subscription box, custom clothing design

This year, the iPrize competition uses a universal application form assembled by the state organizer, the Upstate Capital Association of NY.  Students must be sure to select their region as Central New York to be considered for the RvD iPrize, HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, and NY Business Plan Competition. The application is due on March 15.