Randall Big Idea

Welcome to the Randall Family Big Idea competition and $100,000 in cash prizes for Pitt students! This competition is an experience-based learning opportunity for Pitt students with big ideas. Discover how to take your big idea to the next level towards startup creation. The competition spans February and March of each year and awards a grand prize of $25,000 to the idea with the most startup promise. Additionally, cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third places, plus people’s choice. The competition is offered to ALL Pitt undergraduate and graduate students across all schools and departments. Post-doctoral fellows are included. Since its inception in 2009, the competition has attracted hundreds of interdisciplinary teams seeking to bring their big ideas to market. Please review all information before applying.

MediCase, a a phone case that doubles as a pillbox, connected to an app that sends medication reminders, wins the 2017 RFBIC Grand Prize of $25,000.


Thank you to all the students who participated for 2017 and for everyone who attended the showcase! 

Please see the list of winners here!

Other Media: Randall Family Big Idea Competition Gives Golden Tickets to Student Business Endeavors, By Micaela Fox Corn, Pitt Chronicle, Issue Date: April 5, 2017

Ambient Cybersecurity and Tiny Lasers Win Big Prizes for ECE Students at Startup Competition by Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer, 4/26/2017

See More Photos on our Flickr Page




The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is made possible through the generous support of the Randall family. Robert P. Randall was president and chief executive officer of the Three Rivers Aluminum Company (TRACO), a prominent regional door and window company, which was acquired by Alcoa and is now a division of Kawneer. Mr. Randall continues to give back to the community through his position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, his work with the United States Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member of both the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.


Through the competition the Innovation Institute hopes to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Support University of Pittsburgh students in launching and growing new business ventures in western Pennsylvania
  • Provide a forum for emerging student entrepreneurs to network with advisors, partners, customers, and funders
  • Highlight the expanding entrepreneurial culture at Pitt


Grand Prize (1 awarded)                   $     25,000

2nd Prize (3 awarded)                       $     15,000

3rd Prize (4 awarded)                        $       5,000

4th Prize (4 awarded)                        $       2,000

Video (1 awarded)                             $       1,000

People’s Choice (1 awarded)            $       1,000 

TOTAL PRIZES                                $    100,000




The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is open only to Pitt students.The competition has three elimination rounds: Big Idea 1, Big Idea 2, and Big Idea 3, plus the final Big Idea Showcase and Awards. To participate in subsequent rounds, you MUST apply to Big Idea 1. You cannot enter the competition mid-round.

This competition is OPEN TO ANY AND ALL PITT STUDENTS at all levels – graduate and undergraduate – in all schools, including post-doctoral fellows.

All participants must attend the mandatory bootcamp on Sunday, February 5 from 9 am. to noon in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

Students MUST APPLY AS A TEAM of at least two members.

Team members MUST BE FROM AT LEAST TWO DIFFERENT SCHOOLS on Pitt’s campus (eg engineering and business). Exceptions are only made for compelling reasons. Email me for questions or exceptions. All participants must be listed on a particular team.

February 1, 2017 is the application deadline!

Please Note

All presentations and videos submitted may be placed in the public domain. It is the responsibility of the entering team to confirm that making these particular materials public does not adversely impact the commercial potential of the project (do not disclose any confidential information).

All images and language used in videos and presentations must be legal and valid uses (do not use copyrighted material such as background music).

Prize money is distributed equally to all team members upon completion of applicable paperwork as required by the University and by law, and, in the case of the top prizes, completion of specified milestones. Individual team members may disclaim an interest in the prize money by providing notification prior to the selection of the winners. In the event that an individual team member elects to disclaim interest in the prize money, distribution of those funds will be determined by the University.


  • If you plan on being in Randall Family Big Idea Competition next year you should:
  • Application deadline: TBA for 2018
  • Randall Bootcamp, required attendance
  • Randall Practice Pitches
  • Randall Big Idea 2 (semi final round)
  • Big Idea 3 (final round)
  • SHOWCASE: Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall
    AWARDS:  Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall