In 1978, Cliff Ensley ’69, ’70, G’71 had an idea to start his own business and just $2,500 to do it. He was used to taking on challenges—there was no stopping him. Growing up, he struggled with a learning disability—at…
University to Compete for ACC InVenture Prize
“Shark Tank” isn’t the only place to catch a first look at talented young entrepreneurs creating innovations that will shape the future. Teams from Syracuse University are about to vie for the InVenture Prize, a televised event 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 has been nicknamed “American Idol for Nerds,” recognizing the interdisciplinary competition as one of the biggest and best talent searches for student creativity, invention and entrepreneurship. The Emmy Award-winning competition was created by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Public Broadcasting, with contestants pitching to a live audience at a dynamic televised, live-streamed event.
The InVenture Prize plays off the spirit of the ACC. “They’ve battled it out on the field, but now the ACC’s best minds come together for a competition like no other,” according to event organizers. “The InVenture Prize is an opportunity to stimulate undergraduate entrepreneurial activity and increase student-faculty engagement, to celebrate and highlight the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of our students and to inspire a greater sense of camaraderie across the conference.”
“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. And it’s a wonderful way to showcase the fact that the ACC is about more than sports—that it’s also about celebrating our shared commitment to academic and scholarly excellence and advancing it to new levels. I can’t wait to see the creative ideas that our students put forward to represent Syracuse in the finals.”
In addition to Syracuse, the 15 participating 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.
The deadline to apply online for the Syracuse University qualifier is Jan. 31. Student startups will pitch to a panel of university judges, drawn from across academic programs, at a campus competition on Feb. 10. One finalist team will be selected to represent Syracuse University at the finals in Atlanta on March 30-31.
The 15 university teams advancing to Atlanta will pitch during the preliminary round on March 30, after which five teams will be chosen to advance to the final round on March 31. A panel of expert judges will award the first-place team $15,000 to continue development of its invention or product. 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.
- 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, 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 Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship’s Couri Hatchery.
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: email@example.com. Pro-bono professional service advisors are also available by appointment at the Couri Hatchery: firstname.lastname@example.org.