Kathryne Carr Award

The Kathryne Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence is offered in memory of the first Director of the W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab Incubator to the i.Lab venture that best represent the criteria for entrepreneurial excellence that Kathryne Carr held dear.

The objectives of the Award are to inspire excellence and to encourage the creation of new ventures by inspiring and supporting founders to “carry on” in the spirit of Kathryne Carr.

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About Kathryne Carr

Kathryne “Kathy” Carr (1955-2015) was a vibrant life force in all she did. In the entrepreneurial world she gave generously of her spirit and experience; held a high expectation of integrity; and shared her boundless faith in those who innovate. She always offered her time and experiences, good and bad, to those in the i.Lab and University community. She was no different with her family and friends.

Throughout her life, Ms. Carr relentlessly applied her natural ability to see how the collaborative sum of talent and ideas can improve the pace of development and success of all entrepreneurs. She provided this insight with great humor and optimism underscored by pragmatism and real-world experience.


The Kathy Carr Award recognizes, annually, the entrepreneur(s) whose venture demonstrates the greatest potential for commercial success and whose founder\team best embody magnetic, selfless leadership. We can imagine no better way to honor Kathy’s memory. 
 In the event of a close competition (which we hope for), the winner of the award will be determined according to the following measures, in order of priority, above and beyond the commercial potential of the venture and the leadership of the founder:

1. A team player, a colleague, a mentor and a friend within the broader i.Lab community;

2. Grit and perseverance in the face of challenge and adversity;

3. Humility at a level to which others aspire.


Only those applicants who actively participated in the Summer Incubator program on a full-time basis will be eligible for the award. Applicants should submit the following materials for consideration by the selection committee:

  • An executive summary of no greater than two pages in length, highlighting key dimensions of the venture;

  • An outline of key milestones for the venture, including those accomplished following the Summer Incubator program as well as those anticipated over the coming year. This outline of milestones is evidence that the venture is continuing to accelerate post-incubator and showing signs of meaningful success;

  • A presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) through which the applicant is able to communicate and provide reasoning behind—in ten minutes or less—their executive summary, key milestones, and evidence of early success;

  • Recommendation letters from members of the company’s Advisory Board or committed Mentor(s).


Applications for the 2020 Kathy Carr award will go online in Spring 2020. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sandra McCutcheon

 2018 Recipient - Beanstalk, co-founded by Jack & Mike Ross

Founded by brothers, Jack and Michael Ross, Beanstalk’s mission is to create a sustainable abundance of nutritious food through technological advancements in growing and harvesting. Beanstalk Farms grows heirloom produce in automated indoor farms.

After joining the 2017 Summer Incubator cohort, Jack and Mike were selected for Y Combinator’s Spring 2018 cohort. Jack was selected as a “STEM catalyst” by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the Science Museum of Virginia. Also in 2018, the co-farmers raised their seed round (get it!) and returned to Northern Virginia, where they began growing and selling produce from their vertical, autonomous farm—its over 20-feet tall!


 2017 Recipient - Suz Somersall of Kira Kira

In 2017, Suz Somersall received the inaugural Kathryne Carr Award. Somersall first founded Suz Somersall Designs, producing 3D modeled jewelry that was featured in a variety of business and fashion outlets, such as: Wall Street Journal, InStyle, Real Simple, and MarieClaire.

Somersall then converted this passion for engineering and design to found KiraKira, an online community and platform designed to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators, makers, designers, and architects. The platform teaches and enables students to create virtual and physical products using CAD software.

KiraKira was selected to participate in Intel's Education Accelerator program, and has partnered with HP, Autodesk, and True Ventures on a MakerStudio in San Francisco's Ghiradelli Square (featured in the San Francisco Chronicle). Somersall was honored as one of Fast Company's Most Creative People of 2017, and the company has been features in outlets such as Entrepreneur and INC magazine.



KiraKira, Intel, and Parsons on the importance of STEAM learning