SEFCU, SUNY Poly, and UAlbany Announce Winning Student-Led Teams in 8th Annual $500,000 New York Business Plan Competition

SEFCU, SUNY Poly, and UAlbany Announce Winning Student-Led Teams in 8th Annual $500,000 New York Business Plan Competition

Friday, April 28, 2017 - 06:23
News Releases
2017 New York Business Plan Competition Winners

Plan to charge electric vehicles anywhere earns student team SparkCharge $100,000 grand prize; Five teams earn $10,000 first place prizes out of the 331 teams that took part in the competition across New York State

Albany, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) and the University at Albany, with support from Title Sponsor SEFCU, today announced that SparkCharge, led by students from Syracuse University, was named the $100,000 grand prize winner of the eighth annual New York Business Plan Competition. More than 400 student-led teams applied to compete in the statewide competition, and the final, which took place at SUNY Poly’s Albany NanoTech Complex on Friday, April 28, featured a total of 103 teams that were selected to compete after making it through regional semifinal rounds that were held across the state.

The grand prize-winning team also took first place in the Clean Technology track. Additionally, five other 1st place-finishing teams each took home $10,000 within their respective categories: in the Advanced Technology track, Natural Cuts, made up of students from Cornell University, pitched a novel, patent pending process to create a more natural way to add shelf life to potato products using less energy. In the Information Technology/Software track, PowerSpike, made up of students from Syracuse University and Binghamton University, pitched a novel platform to enable sponsorships for gamers taking part in online gaming communities. In the Products track, OWA Haircare, led by a student from Rochester Institute of Technology, pitched an environmentally sustainable, safe, and convenient waterless shampoo to save water, plastic, and energy. IIID in the Services track was made up of students from Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology, and they pitched a service to design and produce affordable building elements for historic restorations. In the Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit track, Thrive Projects, Inc., made up of students from Syracuse University, pitched a customized and localized educational solutions program for communities around the world.

With Title Sponsor SEFCU powering this unique competition, in addition to support from Clean Technology Track Sponsor New York Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA); Information Technology/Software Track Sponsor TroyWeb Consulting; Friend Sponsors Anchor Agency Insurance, AT&T, Capital Bank, Center for Economic Growth, Innovate518, National Grid, Pioneer Bank, and the Research Foundation for The State University of New York; Supporting In-Kind Sponsors Heslin, Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., Schwartz Heslin Group, Inc., Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt, and TroyWeb Consulting; and Friend In-Kind Sponsors CDTA, Crossgates Mall, Danforth, EYP, M+W Group, and Mazzone Hospitality, and supported by SkipsoLabs, this unique, student-centered competition has become the largest of its kind in New York State and one of the biggest in the United States.

A panel of national venture capitalists, angel investors, and investment bankers selected the winning teams and offered invaluable feedback for each team that took part in the competition, which was co-presented by SUNY Poly and UAlbany.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “We are thrilled that The State University of New York can once again partner with schools and businesses from throughout the state for this inspiring competition at SUNY Poly. By bringing some of our most innovative students together with the industry experts who can turn their ideas into actual products or services, the New York State Business Plan Competition continues to offer a unique experience for students while also supporting community development and entrepreneurship in every region of the state.”

“SUNY Poly is proud to organize this event and host two regional semifinal competitions at both its Albany and Utica campuses, in addition to hosting the final at our Albany campus, to support students and their business ideas with an excellent platform for encouraging entrepreneurship,” said SUNY Poly Interim President Dr. Bahgat Sammakia. “SUNY Poly is proud to promote innovation amongst college students in New York State who can apply the lessons they’ve learned to tackle real world problems, and we congratulate each student team that competed.”

“We are pleased to co-host this business competition with SUNY Poly,” said Interim President, James R. Stellar, University at Albany. “As a university committed to developing entrepreneurial and public engagement skills in our students, this competition helps to enhance the student experience and impact our students’ future successes. We congratulate not only all of today’s winners, but all of the innovators who participated in this event.”

Michael J. Castellana, President and CEO of SEFCU, Title Sponsor of the competition, said, “SEFCU is once again pleased to partner with the many educational institutions from across New York State that are creating this inspiring opportunity for students, and we are thrilled to offer substantial support to encourage these young entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into a reality. As we note that economic development has already resulted from this competition for our state, SEFCU is excited to empower students to create viable businesses, and we are looking forward to seeing the next crop of ideas that can further strengthen New York State, which remains the business capital of the world."

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, “NYSERDA is proud to support the clean technology track of this competition which empowers students to develop and pursue innovative ideas that have the potential to make a positive impact on our clean energy economy and environment. Supporting this exciting competition that nurtures valuable ideas enables students to fashion them into the clean energy technologies of tomorrow, which also supports business and job growth in New York State. We congratulate the winners and look forward to watching these students become New York’s industry leaders of tomorrow.”

SparkCharge, led by students from Syracuse University, took the $100,000 Grand Prize for its business plan that seeks to allow electrical vehicles to charge anywhere at any time to address “range anxiety” with its modular, battery charging package that can be easily transported in any electric vehicle or stored at any building, for example.

Students from 60 colleges and universities competed in the overall competition; the following institutions were represented in the final round of the competition: SUNY Polytechnic Institute (including teams from both its Albany and Utica campuses), Syracuse University, Clarkson University, Binghamton University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Marist College, Siena College, SUNY Geneseo, University at Buffalo, Hofstra University, University of Rochester, United States Military Academy, Columbia University, Farmingdale State College, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, University at Albany, Buffalo State College, Canisius College, CUNY Zahn Innovation Center, Daemen College, Dutchess Community College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Long Island University, Medgar Evers College, Mt. St. Vincent, Pratt MWP, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Plattsburgh, Utica College, Wells College, and CUNY Baruch College.

Significantly, more than one-third of the teams that took part in the final were teams that may be eligible for women and minority business status in New York State. Although this year’s competition has now concluded, SUNY Polytechnic Institute will once again continue its efforts to support business growth in New York State by assisting each interested team in applying for an official New York State Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBE) designation.

Winners of the 2017 New York Business Plan Competition by category and track, with MWBE-eligible status noted, include:

Grand Prize - $100,000 cash and in-kind services

  • SparkCharge from Syracuse University (MWBE)

First Place - $10,000 cash and in-kind services

  • Advanced Technology – Natural Cuts from Cornell University
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – SparkCharge from Syracuse University (MWBE)
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – Thrive Projects, Inc. from Syracuse University (MWBE)
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – PowerSpike from Syracuse University and Binghamton University
  • Products – OWA Haircare from Rochester Institute of Technology (MWBE)
  • Services – IIID from Syracuse University and the Rochester Institute of Technology

Second Place - $5,000 cash

  • Advanced Technology – Voyant Photonics from Columbia University
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – Verdimine from SUNY Geneseo
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – Moment of Magic from Mt. St. Vincent College (MWBE)
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – Acculis from New York University (MWBE)
  • Products – A.N.R. Medical Supply from Dutchess Community College (MWBE)
  • Services – Phelos from the Fashion Institute of Technology (MWBE)

Third Place - $1,500 cash

  • Advanced Technology – Sanguine Diagnostics from RPI
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – Chalaza Technologies from the University of Rochester
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – Artemis from the University of Rochester (MWBE)
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – Legal Soft from Hofstra University
  • Products – Footsies, LLC from United States Military Academy
  • Services – Coldspace from University at Buffalo (MWBE)

MWBE Recognition Award

  • Advanced Technology – ModoScript LLC from Syracuse University (MWBE)
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – Echuima from Cornell University (MWBE)
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – FiveOne Labs from Columbia University (MWBE)
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – Comake from Cornell University (MWBE)
  • Products – A.N.R. Medical Supply from Dutchess Community College (MWBE)
  • Services – Origin Story from Syracuse University (MWBE)

Undergraduate Excellence Award – recognition award

  • Advanced Technology – Gaia from the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – Team Melioria from University of Rochester
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – StandUp Leadership from SUNY Geneseo
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – Busie from Syracuse University
  • Products – StairSafe from the University at Buffalo, Clarkson University, and Hudson Valley Community College
  • Services – Current-C from Marist College

Esprit de Corps – recognition award

  • Advanced Technology – Elevate/Therapeutic Leg Extender from Clarkson University (MWBE)
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – SMART Start House from Clarkson University (MWBE)
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – Storillo from Daemen College and the University at Buffalo
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – Memory Fox from the University at Buffalo
  • Products – Budamundi Lifestyle from SUNY Geneseo
  • Services – Onyx Photo from the Fashion Institute of Technology (MWBE)

People’s Choice Award

  • Advanced Technology – LifeForce from SUNY New Paltz (MWBE)
  • NYSERDA Clean Technology – Solar Water LLC from Clarkson University
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit – Shine the Magazine from Syracuse University (MWBE)
  • TroyWeb Consulting Information Technology/Software – LunchBux from CUNY Baruch
  • Products – Schwab’s Cider Port from Wells College
  • Services – Lifted Roots Vertical Farms from Farmingdale State College

Since the competition’s inaugural event in 2010, more than 2,100 student teams from 75 New York State colleges and universities have competed, claiming more than $2,300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Currently in its eighth year, the New York Business Plan Competition enables each student-led team to explain their innovation in a set amount of time, with teams competing against others whose products, services, or developed ideas fall within a similar category, or track. Participants gain valuable experience going before panels of national venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, and seasoned entrepreneurs who serve as judges; they provide the student teams with important feedback and a chance to understand how their pitch might be received in the “real world.” More information about the 2017 New York Business Plan Competition can be found at:


SUNY Polytechnic Institute. SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem, formed from the merger of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SUNY Institute of Technology. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany location and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica/Rome location. Thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and over 300 corporate partners. For information visit and

About the University at Albany. A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.


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