Innovators invited to compete for ACC InVenture Prize

Kate Beckman on stage at the ACC InVenture prize 2017 finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

The ACC is on a talent search for top student innovators who are inventing the future.

Teams from Syracuse University are now being recruited for the InVenture Prize, a televised “Shark Tank” style competition open to student startups at the 15 colleges and universities that are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Academic Consortium.

The InVenture Prize Competition plays off the spirit of the ACC, with an emphasis on big ideas.  ACC athletics teams regularly battle it out on the playing field, but the InVenture Prize offers the only chance for ACC student innovators and inventors to compete in a televised pitch event in front of a live audience.  Last year, Syracuse University entrepreneur Kate Beckman ’17, founder of FreshU and now a graduate student in the Newhouse School, made it to the final five, which was live broadcast and streamed by PBS.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library will be hosting the campus qualifier to pick the top team to represent Syracuse University.  One-line applications are due February 9, with a campus pitch competition on February 16.  The winning team, selected by a panel of judges, will receive an all-expenses paid trip April 5-6, 2019 to Georgia Tech in Atlanta for the finals, and a chance to compete for $30,000 in prize funding.

“Syracuse University has a very long and impressive culture and track record of innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly. “This is a great opportunity for our incredibly talented students and recent graduates to go toe-to-toe with their ACC peers for prize money to launch their next venture.”

David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, adds, “Syracuse University Libraries are delighted to enhance the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Syracuse University through the successful mentoring and expert advice provided by the Blackstone LaunchPad on the first floor of Bird Library, and the lively community of students who use this innovation space day and night.”

In addition to Syracuse, the 15 participating colleges are: Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University of Notre Dame, University of Louisville, University of Miami, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and Wake Forest University.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Each university finalist team may be composed of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students or recent graduates of the university within one year of graduation from their undergraduate program.
  • If a team member is a recent graduate of the university, the idea for the invention must have been initially conceived while the student was enrolled as an undergraduate.
  • Full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students must comprise at least 50 percent of the registered team members. Individual teams with only one student are eligible to compete.
  • Teams with generated revenue or venture capital funding in excess of $100,000 are not eligible to compete.
  • Entrants should be the original creators, inventors or owners of the intellectual property (IP) underlying their invention. Any co-invention with non-students or any other third party outside the university must be fully disclosed during registration to determine if the outside contribution was substantial. A team whose idea or invention qualifies as university-owned IP is not eligible to enter.

The application process is straightforward.  Teams submit online here, answer short questions, and upload a one-page business statement. If selected for the Syracuse competition, they will create a pitch deck for the campus competition. Coaching in advance of the campus finals will be available through the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Couri Hatchery in the Whitman School of Management’s Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship.  Students who participated in Invent@SU, the Syracuse University invention accelerator, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Students may make appointments to meet at the Blackstone LaunchPad with experts from the U.S. Small Business Administration and New York State Small Business Development Center for technical assistance. Appointments for coaching or meetings with business advisors or professional service providers can be made by e-mail:

Photo:  Kate Beckman, Fresh U founder, at last year’s ACC InVenture Prize finals