Clemson University hosted their first InVenture Prize competition this spring as a result of a partnership between Epicenter community members.

Students pitch their products at the first Clemson InVenture Prize competition.

A partnership between Epicenter community members brought the InVenture Prize competition to Clemson University this spring.

InVenture Prize is an interdisciplinary innovation competition open to undergraduates and recent graduates of Georgia Tech. For the first time this year, Georgia Tech partnered with the ACC Academic Consortium and expanded the competition to all schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Each of the 15 ACC schools were asked to hold their own InVenture Prize competitions and send the winners to the ACC InVenture Prize, which took place in April 2016.

In a process that began in spring 2015, members of Clemson’s Pathways to Innovation Program team collaborated with InVenture Prize faculty organizers at Georgia Tech including Craig Forest, who is an advisor for the Pathways program.

Left: Audience members show their support for the finalists; Right: Bre Przestrzelski acted as master of ceremonies for the event.


Pathways team leader John DesJardins and University Innovation Fellow and Clemson Ph.D. student Bre Przestrzelski worked to design their own campus event, raised prize funds and filled the auditorium with students for the first Clemson InVenture Prize in February 2016. Six finalists competed in the event, which was judged by representatives of the university and local industry, including other Clemson Pathways team members.

The winner of Clemson’s InVenture Prize was John Cullen Schlageter, who pitched a replacement for styrofoam in the $2.96 billion cold chain packaging market and was invited to compete at the ACC InVenture Prize.

“The event brought together our community to drive innovation and entrepreneurship through Clemson students,” Przestrzelski said. “I’m so glad I had the chance to be involved in this.”

Left: The first place award for the Clemson InVenture Prize; Right: John DesJardins presents the first place award to John Cullen Schlageter.


After this event, the Clemson team traveled to Georgia Tech for the ceremony on April 6, which attracted 4,000 students from 15 schools. At the end, the ACC InVenture Prize named a winner from Duke University. Details are available at

“I was very pleased to see the level of support and participation that we received from students and administrators at Clemson for the InVenture Prize competition,” DesJardins said. “It speaks well about the future potential of our blossoming innovation and entrepreneurship eco-system on campus.”

Watch the video of Clemson’s InVenture Prize event below (from

View the photos from the Clemson event at

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