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The Innovation Institute provides a wealth of programming and resources for Pitt Innovators – faculty, students and staff – at whatever stage they are at in the innovation and entrepreneurship journey. The Innovation Institute provides programming and resources both for those pursuing an innovation based on Pitt sponsored research, or for those with an innovative idea that was not derived using University resources. For the wider community, The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence is Western Pennsylvania’s leading provider of services to small businesses.


1. Sponsored Research Innovation Track

Benchtop to Bedside

Commonly known as B2B, this introductory class is designed for clinicians and research faculty to learn the concepts and best practices for technology commercialization in the health sciences. Select graduate students can take the course for credit or in a non-credit capacity. B2B runs in the spring semester on Tuesday evenings and is taught by Director of Education and Outreach, Babs Carryer.
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Pitt Ventures First Gear

For Pitt Innovators who have an innovation for which they are ready to begin the commercialization process, the First Gear program helps bridge the gap between early-stage discoveries and products and services that can be taken to market. First Gear offers hands-on guidance and mentorship that 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 funding through I-Corps and other sources.
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2. Student Innovation Track

Getting Started

Students with an interest in entrepreneurship have multiple potential entry points. Perhaps the best place to start is the annual Startup Open, held at the beginning of the first semester. Here students can learn about competitions, programs and resources available through the Innovation Institute. Early in each semester, students can participate in a Startup Blitz competition, a startup-athon where students form teams around ideas for a startup and work with an experienced mentor to craft a pitch to a group of VIPs from the regional entrepreneurial scene.

Blast Furnace

The Blast Furnace is a student startup accelerator providing access to a deep mentor network, inspirational co-working space, and a rich curriculum preparing student startups for creating and growing their business.  It is led by, Greg Coticchia, Entrepreneur in Residence and Blast Furnace Director. The program, open to all Pitt students at any level, runs two eight-week cohorts per year beginning in April and again in October.
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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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Entrepreneurs in Residence for Students

Innovation Institute Entrepreneurs in Residence hold regular hours to help students navigate their entrepreneurial journey and connect them with the resources and people that can help their ideas take flight.
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3. Regional Small Business Track

First Step/Second Step Series

The 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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