Intelligence++ Launches Ventures Initiative to Help Commercialize Products for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Syracuse University Libraries is launching a new Intelligence++ Ventures initiative, thanks to a generous donation from Gianfranco Zaccai ’70, H’09 and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence. Intelligence++ Ventures is an extension of the Intelligence++ program, a partnership among Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad, the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Intelligence++ program includes a two-semester inclusive entrepreneurship and design course—DES 400/600—that encourages students from across campus to imagine and create products, devices, and services for persons with disabilities. The Intelligence++ Ventures initiative extends the program to provide funding to commercialize products and services to support people with intellectual disabilities. It emphasizes interdisciplinary and collaborative technological, educational, and organizational innovation to enable and empower individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, and their communities.

“Intelligence++ Ventures is a concept to assist student research initiatives emerging from the Intelligence++ program or other campus innovation programs. The new initiative helps move student research, scholarly, or creative projects from ideation to proof of concept and commercialization,” says David Seaman, Dean of the Libraries and University Librarian. “Students can come from any school or college and need not take DES 400/600 to apply. In fact, students with an idea for the intellectual disability community can apply for this initiative in addition to funds the Libraries administers, such as the Orange Innovation Fund or the Student Innovation Fund.”

“From AI to digital and other emerging technologies, this field is poised for rapid growth. Participating students can become part of the leading edge.”
Gianfranco Zaccai ’70, H’09

The initiative will be administered through Syracuse University Libraries, in collaboration with the University’s existing research and commercialization programs, including SOURCE, Blackstone LaunchPad, Invent@SU, NEXIS, Innovation Law Center, NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), Intelligence ++, Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental Energy Systems, CASE at Syracuse University, and D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Applicants also can enter the initiative through research classes, labs, or independent study programs across the Syracuse University campus. Applicants must identify specific tangible needs related to the development of a product, service, technology, or creative work in the discovery, testing, building, and/or launching of their project. Applications can be submitted through

“I am pleased to continue to support Intelligence++ and enhance it through the creation of Intelligence++ Ventures, a new competitive program for student innovators to help commercialize products, services, and technologies that will help people with intellectual disabilities,” says Zaccai. “This initiative can accelerate the transfer of inclusive design research to the marketplace. It will help students create innovations that can be used by early customers, get real world feedback on product design, and introduce products to the people who will benefit from their ingenuity.”

Zaccai says he envisions the initiative attracting even more students from across academic disciplines who are interested in pursuing design and development focused on breaking down barriers to accessibility: “From AI to digital and other emerging technologies, this field is poised for rapid growth. Participating students can become part of the leading edge.”