Chancellor’s Gap Funds

The Chancellor’s Gap Funds were established to enhance opportunities for Pitt investigators to advance their innovations toward commercialization.

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Michael G. Wells Healthcare Competition

Pitt students with an innovation derived from their department or lab’s research can apply to share in more than $20,000 in awards.

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Industry-Funded Opportunities

Industry partnerships provide an important channel for the translation of research to societal impact. In FY 2020, Pitt faculty partnered with 375 different companies on research projects totaling more than $40 million. From basic research to clinical trials, Pitt innovators are building new partnerships every day that help advance their research and commercialization goals.

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Randall Family Big Idea Competition

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. A total of $100,000 in prizes is awarded to deserving Pitt students with a top prize of $25,000.

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Big Idea Advantage Fund

This donor-sponsored investment fund provides investments between $10,000 and $25,000 to Pitt students of any level, freshman to postdoc, from any part of the University who have started a company and demonstrated growth potential.

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Center for Medical Innovation (CMI)

The Pilot Funding Program supports the mission of the CMI to develop innovative new solutions to clinical challenges that result in improvements in patient care through clinical/technical partnerships.

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Pitt Innovation Challenge

(PInCh®) is a multi-round competition designed to generate innovative solutions to challenging health problems by mitigating risk and providing financial and administrative support to move ideas forward.

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Industry partnerships provide an important channel for the translation of research to societal impact. In FY 2020, Pitt faculty partnered with 375 different companies on research projects totaling more than $40 million. From basic research to clinical trials, Pitt innovators are building new partnerships every day that help advance their research goals.

Visit the link below to learn more about these funding opportunities:

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Venture Capital

Venture capital is financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential. Venture capital generally comes from well-off investors, investment banks and any other financial institutions. Venture capital firms interested in working with Pitt startups can contact the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships.

  • If you are a faculty member interested in contacting venture capital firms, please contact
  • If you are a student interested venture capital funding, please contact the Pitt Big Idea Center.

Foundations are organizations that have identified individuals, families and corporations who share a common mission to provide grants to address those missions. These missions might include addressing environmental impacts or finding cures/treatments for diseases. If your startup aligns with a foundation’s mission, you might consider contacting them to learn whether they will provide grants to your business.

The Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships can assist you in approaching foundations for support.

Pittsburgh Foundations

Other Foundations

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and its companion Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are both very natural first steps to assist small businesses in the transition from the university to commercialize new technologies that meet federal research and development needs. The program is funded through a dozen federal departments and agencies. Funding ranges from $150,000 in Phase I to $1 million in Phase II.

Small businesses that have research and development needs that align with federal government research interests and companies formed around technologies developed with federal research funds are eligible to participate.There are many advantages to applying for an SBIR or STTR, one of the biggest being that they are non-dilutive grants to fund applied research. It could be the perfect vehicle to assist in translating a discovery from the lab or department to the market. Each year, the SBIR and STTR programs fund 3,000 companies across nearly all technology and market sectors.

In this video you will learn about:

  • Requirements for participating in the SBIR/STTR program
  • Roles of faculty and entrepreneurs for each grant type
  • Goals and objectives of each phase of the program
  • Strategies for writing SBIR/STTR proposals
  • Conflict of interest issues faculty need to be aware of when considering launching and working in a startup company
  • Please see the time stamps for each section


Grants are also available from FOUNDATIONS and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT organizations.

Want to learn more?

Resources and Organizations


Economic Development Organizations

These organizations are typically governmental organizations or nonprofits with a mission to build local, state, national or world economies. One of the key drivers for economic development is job growth. Much of today’s job growth comes from startup or small businesses.

Local Economic development organizations

Crowdfunding is about persuading individuals to each give you a small donation — $10, $50, $100, maybe more. Once you get thousands of donors, you have some serious cash on hand.

This has all become possible in recent years thanks to a proliferation of websites that allow nonprofits, artists, musicians — and yes, businesses — to raise money. This is the social media version of fundraising.

There are more than 600 crowdfunding platforms around the world, with fundraising reaching billions of dollars annually, according to the research firm Massolution. [Source]

  • Go Fund Me
  • Indiegogo
  • Kickstarter – Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects — big and small — have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community.

What are angel groups? 

Individual angels are joining together with other angels to evaluate and invest in entrepreneurial ventures. The angels can pool their capital to make larger investments. ACA has more than 400 angel groups in its database and many more across the globe. Angel organizations come in many forms, but all have certain characteristics:

  • They meet regularly to review business proposals
  • Selected entrepreneurs make presentations to the membership of the group
  • Member angels decide whether to invest in the presenting business
  • Angels work together to conduct due diligence to validate the plans, statements and history of the entrepreneurial team

Other points of interest and important statistics about angel groups are:

  • The size of angel group investments in entrepreneurial firms varies widely. The average ACA member angel group had 42 member angels and invested a total of $2.42 million in 9.8 deals per year in 2015.
  • Between 10,000 and 15,000 angels are believed to belong to angel groups in the U.S.
  • Many angel groups co-invest with other angel groups, individual angels and early-stage venture capitalists to make investments of $500,000 to $2 million per round.
  • Groups invest in innovative firms in a range of industries. The most common areas are software, medical devices, telecommunications, and manufacturing.
  • While some groups focus on a specific industry area, the majority are open to a variety of areas and select those markets with which some of their members have expertise. [Source]

 Want to learn more?

Angel Groups, Directories and Resources

  1. Groups
  2. Directories
  3. Resources

Due Diligence

Serious potential investors will launch a formal due-diligence investigation. Often, at this stage the investor will conduct a formal review of the business assumptions that are critical to determining the commercial value and potential of the innovation. If the partner is satisfied with its due diligence effort, the two parties will enter into a negotiation of investment terms, which will be detailed in a term sheet.

If you are interested in learning more about due diligence, please attend our Office Hours or “Preparing for an Exit” which is one of our Start Smart Sessions.

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