MEDIA ADVISORY: U.Va., Vonage To Award $25,000 in Prizes to Social Messaging Competition Winners

November 29, 2012

The University of Virginia and Vonage, a leading provider of communications services connecting individuals through cloud-connected devices worldwide, on Friday will announce the winners of the Future of Social Messaging Concept Competition.

The Vonage-OpenGrounds Future of Social Messaging Concept Competition was launched on Grounds in September. Thirty-eight student teams entered to compete for $25,000 in prize money. Seven finalist teams have been selected to present their concepts to a panel of judges in a closed session Thursday.

What:  The reveal of the winners of the Social Messaging Concept Competition. First-, second- and third-place prizes of $15,000, $7,000 and $3,000 will be awarded at the event.    

When: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at 9 a.m.                                        

Where: The OpenGrounds Corner Studio

Who: University officials and Vonage Chief Executive Officer Marc Lefar, a 1985 graduate of U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce, will recognize the finalists and winners of the student competition.

The event is open to the public, and members of the media are invited to attend.

“We are thrilled with the success of this first OpenGrounds challenge,” said Bill Sherman, director of U.Va.’s OpenGrounds Initiative. “Both the quality of the responses we received and the potential that these ideas represent for the University’s engagement in the world will enhance the culture at U.Va. This extraordinary partnership with Vonage has opened doors for students, and demonstrates the potential of these new collaborations between the University and innovative partners.”

“We challenged students to develop ideas that could define the next step in social messaging, and they delivered,” Lefar said. “We received a diverse slate of entries from across the University, and we are excited to meet the finalists, learn more about the possibilities they uncovered, and identify what we hope will become the future of social messaging.” 

The following individuals will be available for media interviews on Friday beginning at approximately 10 a.m.:

  • Marc Lefar, Vonage Chief Executive Officer and U.Va. alumnus
  • Bill Sherman, director of U.Va. OpenGrounds
  • Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and U.Va. associate vice president for research
  • Michael Straightiff, director of the U.Va. Licensing & Ventures Group
  • Students from the winning teams

For information about the competition, visit the OpenGrounds website or read about the competition launch

If you intend to cover the event, please contact Morgan Estabrook at 434-982-4191 or

Media Contact

Morgan Estabrook

Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications U.Va. Innovation