Nine Student Teams Recipients of Spring 2024 Orange Innovation Fund Awards

May 14, 2024, 11 a.m.

three students posing side by side
Three graduate students who received Orange Innovation Spring 2024 funding (left to right): Xheneta Sopjani G’24, Emeka Ossai G’25, and Natasha Brao ’22, G’23 and G’24.

This Spring 2024 nine student teams will each receive $5,000 Orange Innovation Fund, a grant program administered through Syracuse University Libraries designed to help students commercialize their research ideas. This semester’s recipients, who will be honored at a zoom event on May 23, are:

Funding for the Orange Innovation Award program comes from a gift from Raj-Ann Rekhi Gill ’98, a member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees who is operating partner of Silicon Valley Quad, an angel investing syndicate. “The list of this year's recipients of the award are truly inspiring and a testament to the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is nurtured by SU Libraries, Blackstone LaunchPad and campus partners," said Raj-Ann Rekhi Gill.

“I am honored to have won an Orange Innovation award,” said Sopjani.” This will certainly be a pivotal moment for Revive by Deinde, enabling us to establish a strong foundation and turn this vision into reality.”

Singh added,” I am thrilled to pursue the opportunities that the Orange Innovation Fund will allow us. Step Ahead Tech is dedicated to bridging the educational and digital divide, and the robotics program we will be launching brings us one step closer.”

Young noted, “Aggregate empowers producers to share their goods, whether they are artisanal crafts or farm-fresh produce. Funding will support the development of a viable product, working with farmers and small businesses to meet their needs. I am grateful for the support of the Orange Innovation Fund award which will continue to advance our goal of fostering vibrant agriculture communities.”

“The Orange Innovation Fund takes a major restraint off the development of Vital Air Quality Sensor, while providing an opportunity to expand in new directions,” concluded Sulik. “The award is immensely valued and appreciated.”

Of the award slate, women founders lead four ventures, five are led by founders of color and one is led by a combat veteran, demonstrating a wide range of student diversity and backgrounds.

The Orange Innovation Fund supports student research initiatives emerging from campus innovation programs, helping graduate and undergraduate student research or scholarly projects move from ideation to proof of concept and commercialization. This supports Syracuse University’s goal around excellence in research, scholarship, student experiential learning and innovation.

“The call for spring proposals received an unprecedented high number of proposals,” said Linda Dickerson-Hartsock, advisor for strategic initiatives at SU Libraries. “The proposals from across campus spanned many sectors, from ag and food, to bio and life sciences, cleantech, medtech, edtech, fintech, hardware, digital platforms, and nonprofit impact ventures. A multidisciplinary team of faculty and alumni founders reviewed applications, with recipients selected on the merit of the applications, along with research rigor and the clarity of the proposed project.”

Learn more about the program, eligibility and requirements at or e-mail to receive information about upcoming workshops and the summer/fall 2024 funding cycle.

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