Students Can Pitch for Up to $10,000 at Annual RvD IDEA Awards

January 30, 2015

There is no shortage of creative students with innovative, entrepreneurial ideas on the SU campus. Students from all majors on campus have exciting ideas, from creating a nonprofit to improve access to drinking water in West Africa to establishing companies that sell delicious desserts or unique sporting equipment. Many students on campus ask, how can I get my nonprofit or for-profit venture off the ground?

IDEA logoThey can enter the RvD IDEA Awards competition and pitch on April 11 for up to $10,000 in seed funding.

The RvD IDEA Awards fund students to execute their ideas. The application is short and simple. All applicants are invited to a 30-minute interview that will determine whether they go on to pitch as a finalist on April 11.

The RvD IDEA Awards help Central New York college and university students start for profit or nonprofit ventures. The RvD IDEA Awards are the seed funding arm of the IDEA office at Syracuse University.

This year, the Syracuse Center of Excellence (CoE) is providing sponsorship for the energy/sustainability category of the competition. Students from CoE partner institutions are eligible to compete in this category of the competition, including our student neighbors at SUNY-ESF.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve been working hard to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus and connect it to Central New York. There is now a tangible, contagious excitement about entrepreneurship coming from all directions,” says Stacey Keefe, executive director of the RvD IDEA. “The RvD IDEA Awards directly support student entrepreneurs. We want to support students and help them plant roots in Central New York to grow their ventures.”

Students can enter their idea or venture in one of six categories: biotech/health care, energy/sustainability, products and services, software/IT, nanotech/high-tech or social/nonprofit.

The seed funding competition started in 2010 and was renamed the RvD IDEA Awards in 2011, when Gisela von Dran, director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program, directed the Raymond F. von Dran Fund endowment toward seeding student ventures. Ray von Dran served as dean of the iSchool at Syracuse University from 1995 to 2007, when he passed away. Ray von Dran was a long-time academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship.

IDEA encourages all students who want to apply for the RvD IDEA Awards to meet with Keefe ( to make their applications as strong as possible. There will also be pitch workshops in March and April to help prepare students for the competition.

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