Big Idea Center
Big Idea Center

The University of Pittsburgh recently became one of the top 20 universities in the world for patents (18th in 2021, up from 28th in 2019), as ranked by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Pitt had a total of 104 patents last year, ranking right behind Cornell (at 17 with 105 patents).

That momentum will likely continue, buoyed by the Big Idea Center. A hub for programs and resources for student innovation and entrepreneurship, the center officially moves into a new building on Friday, Sept. 16 with a celebration starting at 5 p.m.

The Big Idea Center was created four years ago within the Pitt’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Located at the corner of Forbes and Meyran avenues in Oakland, the new 5,500-square-foot space will continue its programming, including mentorship from the experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence to help refine students’ ideas.

“This is more than a building,” says University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “It is a dedicated space and a point of incredible pride for the University of Pittsburgh that directly supports students in the important work of elevating their ideas for society’s gain.”

Learning about innovation and entrepreneurship equips students with a competitive advantage, says Rhonda Schuldt, director of the Big Idea Center.

“We know that the world’s employers value and want people with creativity and initiative, analytical and critical thinking skills, complex problem-solving ability, empathy, leadership, social influence and the ability to work effectively in a team,” says Schuldt.

The Big Idea Center will offer programs throughout the year, including the Randall Family Big Idea Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup.

The space will also feature Saxbys, a student-run coffee shop, and the Big Idea Loft, a coworking space for student startups developed in partnership with Avenu Workspaces, the coworking arm of the Pittsburgh Innovation District.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.