February 2, 2017


Student teams can receive $10,000 to build their startup


The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute announced today that the Pitt Blast Furnace Student Accelerator will offer a Fellowship program this spring that will provide $50,000 for Pitt student entrepreneurs to work towards launching their own startups.

The Fellowship program will run concurrently with the traditional Blast Furnace program, which is now accepting applications for its fifth cohort. Deadline to apply is March 1, 2017, and the program begins April 4. Fellowships will be awarded in $10,000 increments to startup teams consisting of at least two people.

“In less than two years, the Blast Furnace has established itself as the go-to resource for Pitt students with a passion for entrepreneurship to assist them with launching their own enterprise,” said Greg Coticchia, Innovation Institute Entrepreneur in Residence and Director of the Blast Furnace. “With the Blast Furnace Fellowship program, the Innovation Institute is providing an extra level of support for our student entrepreneurs to make their dream of running their own company a reality.”

Launched in 2015, the Blast Furnace provides student entrepreneurs of any level from across the University with access to a deep mentor network, co-working space and a hands-on, experiential education based on the “Lean Launchpad” curriculum. This is the same curriculum used by the Pitt Ventures Gear Program for faculty and graduate students seeking to commercialize discoveries from Pitt sponsored research.

To date, 56 teams comprised close to 200 students from across the University have participated in the Blast Furnace, with a third of them going on to incorporate startups and 10% accepted into competitive regional accelerator programs such as Alpha Lab, Alpha Lab Gear,Idea Foundry and Ascender (formerly Thrill Mill).

To qualify for the Fellowship program, undergraduate students must be a rising junior or senior and must have participated in at least one Pitt or non-Pitt entrepreneurship program, competition or class. Graduate students and postdocs are also welcome to apply. Upon application, those seeking a Fellowship will be scheduled for an interview to be considered for the program.

Blast Furnace is an eight (8) week program that consists of five weeks of Lean LaunchPad workshops and seven evening socials with presentations and Q&A sessions with successful entrepreneurs and early-stage investors.

Each cohort concludes with a Demo Day where student teams pitch their ideas to a panel of VIP’s from Pittsburgh’s local startup scene.

Blast Furnace Fellows will have additional commitments, including:

  • Working at least 30 hours per week on their startup at the Blast Furnace offices
  • Creating a legal entity by the end of the program
  • Conducting a minimum of 50 customer discovery meetings
  • Appling to up to five local or national accelerators OR conducting five meetings with local angel investor or VC firms

For more information about Blast Furnace and the Fellowship program, contact Greg Coticchia.