Demonstrating Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership and strategy for expanding high-tech education and entrepreneurship amid New York’s growing innovation economy, SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), in partnership with Title Sponsors SEFCU and the State University of New York (SUNY), today announced that WordsEye, led by students from Columbia University, was chosen from more than 430 teams from nearly 60 colleges and universities across the state to claim the $100,000 grand prize in the 4th annual New York Business Plan Competition on April 26 at CNSE.
Five other teams each took home $10,000 prizes for first-place finishes within their respective categories. In addition to WordsEye for information technology/software, the other winners were CoReliability from CNSE for nanotechnology/advanced technology; Dental Defense from CNSE for biotechnology/healthcare; Innovative Delivery Systems from Clarkson University for products/services; DeansList from Columbia for social entrepreneurship/non-profit; and Eonic from CNSE for energy/sustainability.
Expanded to cover all 10 economic development regions of New York for the first time, in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s Regional Development Councils roadmap, this year’s event drew a record number of entries, further cementing its recognition as the largest competition of its kind in the nation. The final round featured a total of 88 student-led start-ups from 33 colleges and universities that presented business plans for innovations in the areas driving the 21st century economy, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and clean energy, among others.
“SEFCU is pleased to once again partner with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in this statewide competition that provided college teams the opportunity to earn the financial support and prestige that come to those with the most innovative ideas,” said Michael J. Castellana, SEFCU president and CEO. “I believe that by supporting events like the Business Plan Competition, we can be optimistic about the entrepreneurial path that this region and state have embarked upon and why SEFCU is so committed to support the nanotechnology industry as a key driver of our economic growth,” Castellana added.
“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to support this transformative event, which showcases student innovation, enables future business growth across New York, and highlights the power of SUNY to help inspire and propel our next generation of entrepreneurs,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “The results of this competition demonstrate that New York is well positioned for future success, with a cadre of bright students who are not only developing game-changing ideas, but also the strong business acumen to make them a reality.”
“As a powerful testament to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategy for bolstering regional economic development by creating educational opportunities to enable the next generation of technology and business leaders, we are thrilled with both the quantity and quality of students who’ve participated in the 4th annual New York Business Plan Competition,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, CNSE Professor and Vice President for Clean Energy Programs. “We appreciate the support of SEFCU and SUNY, and the partnership of UAlbany’s School of Business and Syracuse University, in presenting this important event which reaffirms New York’s recognition as a home for world-class education and high-tech economic growth.”
SEFCU and SUNY served as the event’s Title Sponsors, with the competition jointly presented by CNSE, UAlbany’s School of Business, and Syracuse University. The winning teams were selected by a panel of national venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, and seasoned entrepreneurs.
WordsEye, led by Neelam Brar and Bob Coyne from Columbia University, received the $100,000 grand prize to support further development of its proprietary software, which it describes as “Twitter meets Instagram.” WordsEye's technology provides a new medium for visual expression, allowing for the creation of 3D scenes simply by describing them, offering a new way to communicate and express oneself.
“Encouraging student entrepreneurship is critical to the future of New York State. Our New York Student Business Plan Competition complements the School of Business’s award-winning SEED Program, our Young Entrepreneur's Academy, and new educational programs in entrepreneurship. It also fits well with our new $64 Mil School of Business Building, opening this fall, which will serve as a catalyst for business growth at the university,” said UAlbany School of Business Dean Donald S. Siegel. “I once again commend our partners, CNSE and Syracuse University, and Michael J. Castellana, President and CEO of SEFCU, who received his BS and MBA from the School of Business and serves on the School of Business Advisory Council, for his continuing support of this important competition as a title sponsor. Kudos also to the Research Foundation and SUNY for providing major financial support, as well.”
“Syracuse University is proud to partner with SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and University at Albany’s School of Business to support the New York Business Plan Competition, which has grown exponentially from past years due to its ability to offer unprecedented opportunities to New York’s most driven students,” said Bruce Kingma, Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Syracuse University. “A unique competition like this allows students to apply the knowledge that they have gained in New York’s classrooms and laboratories to real-world problems. This is true preparation and support for business success.”
Teams from the following colleges and universities participated in the competition: Baruch College; Binghamton University; Buffalo State; Canisius College; City University of New York; Clarkson University; Colgate University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Dutchess Community College; Daemen College; Farmingdale State College; Fashion Institute of Technology; Fordham University; Fulton-Montgomery Community College; Hobart and William Smith College; Hofstra University; Ithaca College; LeMoyne College; Long Island University-Brooklyn; Marist College; Monroe Community College; Morrisville State College; New York Institute of Technology; New York University; Niagara University; Polytechnic Institute of New York University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Rochester Institute of Technology; Saint John Fisher College; Skidmore College; School of Visual Arts; St. John’s University; St. Lawrence University; Stony Brook University; SUNY Brockport; SUNY Canton; SUNY Cobleskill; SUNY Cortland; SUNY Empire State College; SUNY-ESF; SUNY Fredonia; SUNY Geneseo; SUNY IT; SUNY Levin Institute; SUNY New Paltz; SUNY Oneonta; SUNY Oswego; SUNY Plattsburgh; SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Syracuse University; Ulster County Community College; University at Albany; University at Buffalo; University of Rochester; Utica College; and Wells College.