Welcome to the Randall Family Big Idea Competition with $100,000 in cash prizes for Pitt students!

Thank you to all of our mentors, judges, and sponsors for your support during the COVID-19 crisis.








Congratulations to the 2020 participants of the Randall Family Big Idea!  Learn more about the recent winners.

polycarbin team randall family big idea competition 2020


This competition is an experience-based learning opportunity for Pitt students with big ideas who enjoy working in diverse teams to bring those ideas to life. Discover how to take your 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, and best video.  Since its inception in 2009, the competition has attracted hundreds of interdisciplinary teams seeking to bring their big ideas to market.

Who is eligible?

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.  The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is made possible through the generous support of the Randall family. Robert P. Randall, a Pitt alumnus and trustee, 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.


Important 2021 Randall Family Big Idea Competition Upcoming Dates


Application deadline: Feb 8, 2021 11:59 p.m.

Notification of acceptance: February 12, 2021, 5 p.m.

Bootcamp (attendance required):   Feb 2021

Practice Pitches: Feb 2021

Semi-final Round: Feb 2021

Meet Your Mentor: Mar 2021

Final Round:  April 2021

Final Randall Family Big Idea Competition Awards Ceremony: TBD 2021

Visit us on Facebook to see all images from this year’s competition awards ceremony.


Meet the Big Idea Competition Team!

Babs Carryer

Director, Big Idea Center

Babs Carryer is the director of education and outreach. Her role encompasses programs to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship across campus to all students, post-docs, faculty, researchers, and clinicians. Babs teaches the Benchtop to Bedside and Academic Entrepreneurship technology commercialization courses to researchers, clinicians, and graduate students. Babs is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and educator. She blogs about entrepreneurship on NewVenturist.


Joanna Sutton

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Joanna is a Business Innovation Advisor with Brights Lights Innovations helping small businesses create profitable growth with accelerated times to market.  Since 2007, she held various B2B Marketing Executive roles with Westinghouse Electric Company.  She helped create numerous business opportunities leveraging a range of advanced technologies.

Don Morrison

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Don is a serial entrepreneur and visionary leader who has consistently leveraged technology to improve the customer experience and top and bottom-line results. Don has been involved in the growth and development of several businesses, including American Eagle Outfitters, from one to 165 stores as President and CEO, Sundance Catalog Company as Executive Director, and Bear Creek Corporation as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. He is currently chairman of deal flow for BlueTree Allied Angels.


We would like to sincerely thank all of our sponsors for the 2019 Randall Family Big Idea Competition.

upmc enterprises
Platinum Sponsor
Platinum Sponsor
Gold Sponsor
idea foundry
Silver Sponsor
Silver Sponsor
Silver Sponsor
institute for entrepreneurial excellence university of pittsburgh
University Sponsor
arts and science dietrich
University Sponsor
University Sponsor
PittNursing_2line 2018
University Sponsor
University Sponsor
Office of the Provost University of Pittsburgh
University Sponsor
University Sponsor
University Sponsor
pitt school of computing and information
University Sponsor
University Sponsor


Other Media:

Trek Wins $25,000 Top Prize in 2019 Randall Family Big Idea Competition, By Mike Yeomans, March 21, 2019

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

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