Russell Fearon ’20 G’21 and Ricardo Sanchez ’21 win ACC Syracuse InVenture Prize for their invention SugEx

two students holding their prototype of a smart watch device
Russell Fearon (left) and Ricardo Sanchez (right) with their prototype

Russell Fearon ’20 G’21 (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Ricardo Sanchez ’21 (College of Visual and Performing Arts) were the grand prize winners of the 2021 ACC InVenture Prize Syracuse University campus edition.  They earned a $5,000 cash prize generously sponsored by M&T Bank and will now move on to the ACC Conference finals hosted virtually by North Carolina State University and televised by PBS.  Their invention, SugEx, is an innovative device and mobile app designed to better monitor glucose levels for Type 1 and 2 diabetes and those with pre-diabetes. 

“We started in the Invent@SU accelerator as undergraduates and immediately began working with the tenacious team in the LaunchPad who incubates amazing entrepreneurs, “said Fearon, co-founder and CEO of SugEx.  The SugEx team developed an initial prototype in the Invent@SU program for a wearable glucose monitoring device, based on Fearon’s own experience suddenly discovering he had diabetes while in college.  They worked with the LaunchPad on a commercialization roadmap and along the way won a number of accolades, including a national health innovation award from the American Heart Association.

Fearon is now finishing his master’s degree in bioengineering and biomedical engineering after receiving his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at Syracuse University.  He is also an Orange Ambassador at the LaunchPad, encouraging STEM majors to think about entrepreneurship.

“I am grateful for our supporters at SU, the World of Money and the American Heart Association who continue to believe in the innovation of the SugEx Watch,” he added.  “As the CEO of SugEx, I am determined to pioneer change for the millions in the diabetes community, as tough as the road seems.” 

The SugEx team has now won more than $60,000 for the invention in various competitions.  “The capital earned for SugEx is a testament to our hustle mentality.  We will keep this momentum as we represent Syracuse University in the next round.”

Co-founder and CTO Ricardo Sanchez, a fifth year Industrial and Interaction Design student, said, “I am extremely humbled and excited to have this opportunity to propel SugEx forward and represent Syracuse University. I want to thank Invent@SU and the LaunchPad, as well as my professors in the School of Design here at SU for believing in us.  I’d especially like to thank Diana Miller and Dr. Louise Manfredi for their support and advice throughout my journey.” 

The SU competition was hosted by the LaunchPad at SU Libraries and featured a slate of “Elite Eight” teams vying for the title of top campus innovator.  Competing in the campus qualifier were:

  • Alexander Don ’22 (Whitman), founder of Cirus, a social media platform for people who prefer their voices to be valued rather than visual appearances.
  • Ben Ford ’23 (Whitman), founder of DoNATION, an impact investment platform that offers a platform that matches people launching projects with donors who share similar interests.
  • Bruno Gonzalez Hauger ’21 (Whitman), co-founder of Ambassadoor Technologies, a platform that connects local businesses with nano-influencers to catalyze engagement and brand growth.
  • Cullen Kavanaugh ’22 (Whitman), co-founder of Spread, a mobile application that provides a platform for custom wagers on events between friends.
  • Kyra Thomas ’21 (Engineering and Computer Science), co-founder of Signal, a company that focuses on creating technology solutions that solve issues related to accessibility and inclusion.
  • Murray Lebovitz ’23 (Whitman), founder of Keep Coffee Casual, a network that is building modern coffee culture through sustainability, inclusion, and creativity.
  • Sam Hollander ’22 (Whitman and Newhouse), founder of FSCL, an alternative finance vehicle that is a simple, affordable and flexible solution to finance higher education.

The ACC InVenture Prize Competition is the nations’ largest undergraduate student innovation competition.  This year’s campus judges brought a range of skills from industrial design to mechanical engineering, digital media and marketing, finance, investment, and diversity and inclusion. They included:

  • Kate Beckman ’17 G ’18, Senior Content Manager at Ripple Match and former freelance writer at Cosmopolitan, Founder of FreshU, Speaker for Advertising Week and 2017 ACC InVenture Prize winner
  • Rob Englert, founder and principal designer of ram industrial design, a consultancy specializing in consumer products, user interactions and experiences for a portfolio of global brand clients, and also co-founder of (sphere) optics company
  • Joanne Lenweaver, founder and co-farmer of Clean Slate Farm, president and creative director at Lenweaver Advertising + Design, and former long-time director of the WISE Women’s Business Center
  • Kayla Simon ’19, Integration Engineer at Relative Space and former Propulsion Test Engineer at Virgin Orbit, co-founder of In-Spire, former LaunchPad Global Fellow and LaunchPad Watson Scholar and 2018 ACC InVenture Prize winner
  • Marcus Webb ’19 and G ‘22, Economic Inclusion Fellow at Center State CEO
  • Ryan York, President of York Wealth Management, former CEO of Pinnacle Investments LLC and a Syracuse University alumnus

In addition to Syracuse University, the 15 participating ACC Conference colleges are: Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, 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.