The Pitt Ventures Student Challenge is open to all students (includes undergraduates, graduate students, or postdocs) who are working on Pitt research projects or intellectual property. Entrepreneurial students are supported by a faculty member and given the opportunity to pursue their entrepreneurial interests, build their resume, and get involved in Pitt’s impactful new technologies.  The Pitt Ventures Student Challenge is broken down into two categories: healthcare and non-healthcare technologies.

  • Healthcare-related Technologies: Michael G. Wells Competition
    • Financial Award Totals
      • First Place: $20,000
      • Second Place: $10,000
      • Third Place: $5000
  • All other technologies: Kuzneski Innovation Cup
    • Financial Award Totals
      • First Place: $15,000
      • Second Place: $7,500
      • Third Place: $5000

The deadline for receipt of applications is on May 15, 2020.

Pitt Ventures Student Challenge Wells and Kuzneski Competitions

Pitt Ventures Student Challenge for Faculty Learn More Wells and Kuzneski


(See a timeline of the competition.)

  1. Student applicants must be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate classes at the University’s Pittsburgh Campus or be a postdoctoral researcher.
  2. Student applicants must represent a Pitt technology originating from Pitt research.
  3. Past winners of the Michael G. Wells Competition or the Kuzneski Innovation Cup (collectively the Pitt Student Ventures Challenge) are not eligible to compete.
  4. Applications are to be submitted using the online application by 12:00 noon EST on May 15, 2020. Please note that only responses to the required questions will be reviewed; additional materials and attachments are not permitted. For team-based ideas, all team members must meet the eligibility requirements indicated above. All team members’ contact information should be listed on one application form.
  5. The Innovation Institute is not responsible for technical problems resulting in submissions not being received.
  6. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges on the basis of innovation, feasibility, market potential, and student motivation/dedication.
  7. Semifinalists will be notified by Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
  8. The semifinalists will be invited for interviews (in person or via Skype) during the weeks of June 8 & 15, 2020.
  9. Finalists will be notified by Friday, June 26, 2020. All finalists will be paired with a business mentor to develop a presentation PowerPoint pitch deck and deliver a one-minute video elevator pitch of their idea at the Innovation Showcase to be held on October 14, 2020. Finalists will also participate in business and presentation development workshops.
  10. All Finalists will present a short PowerPoint oral presentation to the judges during the finals and will participate in the Innovation Showcase in October 2020. All judges’ decisions will be final.
  11. Winner understands the award is to be used within the University for pre-commercialization and technology validation activities. The award funds will be transferred to a University account designated by awardee and their faculty sponsor. Award funds must be expended in accordance with University policy and cannot be used for salary or stipend. Line item budgets will be required and must be submitted and approved by the Innovation Institute prior to transfer of funds. A final project report is due 12 months from date of award receipt.
  12. The University will own and protect related Pitt intellectual property rights arising from the development activities using the Award Funds. After completion of the development activities, the Innovation Institute will obtain Invention Disclosures to document, assess, and protect the intellectual property. If the University licenses or commercializes any intellectual property, the awardees considered to be inventors, creators, or developers will receive a share of proceeds consistent with the terms of the University of Pittsburgh Patent Rights and Technology Transfer Policy (11-02-01) or Copyright Policy (11-02-02), as applicable.
  13. Entrants may apply to both the Kuzneski Innovation Cup with non-healthcare applications and Michael G. Wells Competition for healthcare applications if appropriate, but can only participate in one competition. The selection team will determine which competition is most appropriate for the applicant.