Randall Family Big Idea

The Randall Family Big Idea 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, for a total of $100,000 in prizes, making one of the largest pitch competitions in the region.

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Kuzneski Innovation Cup

For University of Pittsburgh students who are developing innovations that can positively impact people’s lives in areas other than healthcare.

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Michael G. Wells Competition

The Michael G. Wells Competition is sponsored by the Michael G. Wells Entrepreneurial Scholars Fund, and is for University of Pittsburgh students who are developing innovations related to the healthcare field.

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Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Courses (Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students)

The Innovation Institute partners with schools and departments on campus to bring experiential education to faculty, students and staff. Click here for more info.

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Blast Furnace

The Blast Furnace is a student accelerator providing access to a deep mentor network, inspirational co-working space, and a rich curriculum preparing students for creating and growing their business ideas. 

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First Step/Second Step Series

The Innovation Institute’s affiliate, Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, hosts two workshops a month through its Small Business Development Center (SBDS) to assist entrepreneurs in addressing issues related to starting a business.

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Pitt Ventures First Gear

The First Gear program helps shape Pitt inventions originating from University research from early-stage discovery to products and services that can be taken to market. First Gear offers hands-on guidance and mentorship that takes helps the inventor create a go-to-market plan that can result in the development of a new enterprise or licensing agreement for the innovation. As a designated NSF I-Corps site, First Gear participants also receive $3,000 to help validate the market-readiness of the innovation, and qualify for additional NSF funding of larger amounts.

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Living Learning Community

The Innovation Institute partnered with Pitt Business, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and Swanson School of Engineering to bring the first-ever Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community (LLC) program to the University of Pittsburgh. This program provides freshman students with an interest in innovation the ability to live together their first year and be exposed to an array of programming and activities related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Start Smart Legal Seminars

The Start Smart legal seminar series is a joint effort of the Innovation Institute, the Innovation Practice Institute at the Pitt School of Law, and Project Olympus at Carnegie Mellon University. Starting any business presents many legal questions. Start Smart is designed to provide legal assistance to entrepreneurs, both from Pitt and CMU, and the community at large. The series is sponsored by Pittsburgh law firm K&L Gates.

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Panther Innovation Network

To continue growing the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the increased involvement of Pitt alumni is crucial. Thousands of Pitt alumni are either successful entrepreneurs, or in a position to offer professional mentoring to Pitt faculty and student innovators in areas ranging from intellectual property and business law, to marketing, sales, finance, human resources, and more.

The Innovation Institute is also seeking business, market and technical input on individual Pitt innovations to help us prioritize our portfolio and focus on the best opportunities in order to reduce the time to market for these discoveries. A brief review of an innovation by an industry “expert,” can provide a great value to the University and keep alum connected to the innovation ecosystem.

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Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds

The Chancellor's Innovation Commercialization Funds were established to enhance opportunities for innovations discovered by investigators at the University of Pittsburgh to advance towards commercialization. The program is intended to provide financial support that cannot typically be obtained from other traditional sources of funding, including the faculty member’s department/school or external government funding agencies.

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Innovation Igniter

The Innovation Igniter program is an introductory primer to the process of advancing an innovative idea towards commercialization.

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Philips Grand Challenge

The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute and Philips seek translational-ready solutions to critical healthcare problems in the sleep and respiratory areas.

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Office Hours

We bring you face-to-face with the experts to answer your startup investor, legal, and regulatory questions. Take advantage of our new office hours with experts from companies who do it daily!

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Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Courses and Certificates

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Performance Innovation Tournament

The Performance Innovation Tournament is designed to encourage Pitt researchers across multiple disciplines to collaborate with the Athletics Department to help solve common issues facing athletes, their coaches and trainers in such a way that will allow for effective training, reduced risk of injury, increased physical and mental strength, and improved human performance.

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