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. While the immediate goal is to improve athletic performance, the solutions developed are expected to have broad applications and the opportunity to positively impact people of various ages and physical conditions.

To have a representative from the Innovation Institute come to your department to further explain the tournament, please contact Jennifer Ireland at



Read FAQs

Below are a list of specific areas of interest. While the list represents current challenges facing the Pitt Athletics Department and are highly preferred from an application perspective, solutions for relevant problems outside of what is listed below that also address potential human performance issues will be considered.


  • Knee motion and mechanics during activity and impact
  • Measuring total mechanical and physiological load on an athlete
  • Quantifying pelvic stability or endurance
  • Training tools to modify resistance during swimming
  • Measuring Power/Stroke and improving Efficiency
  • Practical and accurate way of measuring rotational power


  • A way to measure Heart Rate during water sports and display on a monitor


  • Quantifying mental strength
  • Measuring stress levels

Data Analysis & Interpretation (across all athletic use cases)*

  • Analyzing and interpreting data from multiple wearables and training equipment

*For this category, existing data can be made available to interested researchers.

Evaluation Guidance



  • Wearables, training equipment and devices
  • Health and wellness monitors
  • Data analytics tools, interpretation and visualization
  • Genomics, metabolomics and diagnostic testing


  • Pharmaceutical solutions



All full-time faculty at the Pittsburgh and regional campuses with a primary appointment in an academic department may apply. Part-time faculty and students may apply with the support of a full-time faculty member as the principal investigator. Financial awards will be transferred to a University department account associated with the full-time faculty member.


Proposal Submission

Proposals are due no later than 4 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Please note that this is the only application deadline and no late submissions will be accepted.


  • Name of principal investigator and all other team members that will be involved with the proposal
  • Title clearly and succinctly describing the innovation
  • Abstract of no more than 500 words that summarizes the innovation, explains its relevancy to the proposed problem or area of interest, and outlines a plan for prototype development and validation testing of the innovation in a practical, real-world setting among Pitt athletes (availability may vary across athletic discipline and will need to be arranged with the appropriate individuals).
  • Budget and justification covering all costs of the project including (where applicable) salaries and wages, equipment, supplies, other/misc.
  • Invention disclosure # (if one already exists)


It is important that this submission be written in terms such that a non-technical individual can understand the proposed solution and testing plan.

Please note that only responses to the required questions will be reviewed; additional materials and attachments are not permitted.


Submit Proposal


Review Procedures

Proposals must be the original work of the proposer and will be subject to review by the Innovation Institute, CTSI and the Athletics Department. All entries will initially be reviewed based on potential of the innovation to solve a real-world problem within the scope of the areas of interest, the feasibility of developing a useful prototype and the testing plan.

Based on the application submission, semifinalists will be chosen by a selection committee and notified by the week of March 19, 2018 at which time they will be invited to participate in the Finals “pitch tournament” on April 11, 2018. At the pitch tournament, each semifinalist will be required to make a 30 second “elevator pitch” (without slides) followed by 2 minutes of Q&A. Judges will select the top 4 from round 1. For round 2, 4 semifinalists will do a 2 minute pitch presentation (with slides if desired) followed by 3 minutes of Q&A, of which the judges will choose 2 finalists. The two remaining semifinalists will do a 7 minute pitch presentation (with slides) followed by 7 minutes of Q&A and compete for two top awards of $80,000 and $70,000. The 1st place finalist will also receive a trophy and 4 Pitt football season tickets. Both finalists will be announced as the Founding Innovators of the Performance Innovation Tournament. All semifinalist teams will be offered assistance by the Innovation Institute in preparing individuals for these presentations. The judges for this presentation will include several people from across UPMC and the local innovation community. The presentations will take place in the afternoon of April 11th followed by a reception for all participants. Notification of funding will be made on April 11th at the reception.

Award Period

The award period begins May 1, 2018, and runs through December 31, 2018. Awardees understand the award is to be used within the University for reducing the innovation to practice, prototype development and technology validation activities. The award funds will be transferred to a University account designated by awardee. Award funds must be expended in accordance with University policy. Line item budgets will be required and must be submitted and approved by the Innovation Institute prior to transfer of funds. Awardees agree to report their progress and results (to-date) of validation testing to the Innovation Institute. After completion of the development activities, the Innovation Institute will obtain Invention Disclosures to document, assess, and protect any new intellectual property developed by the investigator during the course of the award. 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.

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