Pitt’s Innovation Institute raises the bar for student entrepreneurs

Innovation is everywhere at University of Pittsburgh.

While that’s a good thing, the challenge is many of the programs can become compartmentalized, says Babs Carryer. As a result, one department often doesn’t know what another across campus is doing.

The Pitt Innovation Institute has been established to address this. It was launched late last year as a clearinghouse to manage the swell of entrepreneurial activity at the university. Carryer recently joined as the new director of education and outreach.

Formerly an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at CMU, Carryer is working now to promote innovation at Pitt and set it apart from other universities in the city, especially in the area of life science startups.

“We’re trying to light a fire under innovation and entrepreneurship across the campus in all 14 schools,” she says.

The Institute, under interim director Marc Milandro, is charged with supporting the education of entrepreneurs and transforming university research into innovations with commercial potential.

Programs under the Institute’s umbrella include the university’s Office of Technology Management, Office of Enterprise Development and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

This evening, April 10, the Institute will stage the final round of the Randall Big Idea Competition. The competition is the culmination of several weeks of work by Pitt entrepreneurs, which involved bootcamps, elevator pitches and a startup weekend. The winner will walk away with $20,000.

Finalists will present their pitches to live judges beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Big Idea Showcase of finalists begins at 6 p.m.

“We want everyone in the community to know that Pitt is awake and like a tiger when it comes to all things entrepreneurial,” says Carryer.