Matt Shumer, founder of Visos, the first VR headset specifically designed for healthcare, will represent Syracuse University at the fifth annual Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) InVenture Prize at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He was selected by a panel of campus and community judges at the Syracuse qualifier on February 21, winning the $5,000 grand prize sponsored by M&T Bank. The ACC InVenture Prize brings the spirited collegiate competition to the “turf” of ideas, pitting the top innovator from each university against each other in a “Shark Tank”-style television show broadcast by PBS.
“You may know VR for its gaming and entertainment purposes, but it can be used for so much more,” says Shumer. “From pain management, to surgical training, to therapy, rehabilitation and palliative care, Visos is rethinking VR, and building a headset and software platform from the ground up to meet the needs of medical users. These are just a few applications for Visos. The medical possibilities are limited only by the imagination.”
This year’s Syracuse campus qualifier attracted 18 applicant teams. First alternate in the campus competition was PAANI, founded by Nikita Chatterjee and Brianna Howard. PAANI is a global health startup company that is working towards providing a sustainable solution for the water contamination issue in Mumbai, India. Its mission is to promote the accessibility of clean water in low-income communities through safe and hygienic practices of water filtration, using resources that are readily available within the region.
The ACC InVenture Prize is open to the 15 member universities that compete in NCAA Division I athletics. The first-place team will be awarded $15,000, the second-place team will receive $10,000, and $5,000 will be awarded to the fans’ favorite invention, as determined by online and text voting during the televised final round on April 15 at NC State.
Last year, Syracuse team MedUX, founded by Alec Gillinder ’20 and Quinn King ’20, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design students, won the $15,000 second-place award in the finals. This year, as Rubin Family Innovation Mentors at the LaunchPad, they helped run the campus competition and coach Syracuse teams.
Visos will face off against teams from Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, NC 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. Five winners of a preliminary round will then have the opportunity participate in front of a live audience in the finals which will be broadcast on PBS and streamed online.
“I believe that in the modern era, anyone can start a scalable, high-growth company and every metropolitan area should have a thriving startup community,” said M&T Bank Regional President Allen Naples. “By helping Syracuse University host the InVenture Prize Challenge, we’re investing in the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of our students and doubling down on our efforts to build our entrepreneurial community into one that generates jobs and prosperity for generations to come.”
“I’m delighted that the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries coordinates this campus-wide competition and helps prepare the competitors,” says Dean of Libraries and University Librarian David Seaman. “I am always impressed by the very strong slate of student entrepreneurial endeavors at Syracuse University, and this year’s event was especially competitive.”