Matthew Shumer ’22, founder of Visos, the first virtual reality (VR) headset specifically designed for healthcare applications, won Syracuse University’s campus qualifier competition, sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries, on February 21. He received a $5,000 cash prize, sponsored by M&T Bank, and an all-expense paid trip to participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) InVenture Prize 2020 in April at North Carolina State University in Raleigh (NC State). ACC’s InVenture Prize is a live televised “shark tank” competition comprised of teams from the 15 colleges and universities represented in the ACC Academic Consortium. Shumer was selected among 18 applicant student teams from SU by a panel of campus and community judges at the qualifier competition.
“You may know VR for its gaming and entertainment purposes, but it can be used for so much more,” said 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.” First alternate or runner-up in the campus competition was PAANI, founded by Nikita Chatterjee (Arts & Sciences, ’20) and Brianna Howard (Falk College, ’20). PAANI is a global health startup company that is working towards providing a sustainable solution for the water contamination issue in India.
The ACC InVenture Prize, being held on April 15 at NC State, 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. 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 to participate in front of a live audience in the finals, which will be broadcast on PBS and streamed online.
Last year, Syracuse team MedUX, founded by Alec Gillinder (VPA, ’20) and Quinn King (VPA, ’20) won the $15,000 second-place award in the finals. This year the two students, who are Rubin Family Innovation Mentors at the LaunchPad, helped run the campus wide competition and coached SU teams.
“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,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. “I am always impressed by the very strong slate of student entrepreneurial endeavors at Syracuse University, and this year’s event was especially competitive.”
Learn more about the Syracuse Blackstone LaunchPad.