Pitt Named NSF Innovation Site

Issue Date: 
April 13, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has designated the University of Pittsburgh as an NSF I-Corps site. The award, which supports innovation activities at select academic institutions, comes with a three-year, $300,000 grant to be used to advance innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship at Pitt.

The University’s Innovation Institute will manage the Pitt I-Corps site. (The “I” in I-Corps stands for “Innovation.”) Through the I-Corps grant, 30 Pitt Innovator teams a year will receive $3,000 to participate in the Institute’s Pitt Ventures program, which offers hands-on commercialization and entrepreneurial education activities in partnership with entrepreneurs-in-residence, investors, and local business mentors. Pitt Innovator teams may use the $3,000 stipends for market research, customer-discovery analyses, and other development efforts. 

“We’re honored to receive this prestigious NSF award to support our commercialization efforts,” says Marc Malandro, founding director of the Innovation Institute and associate vice chancellor for technology management and commercialization at Pitt. “This award builds on our efforts to instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the entire University, bringing together more faculty, staff, and student innovators with educators, mentors, and other community partners to advance our commercialization activities.”

The Innovation Institute’s goals for the I-Corps program are to:

• Increase the number of entrepreneurially minded faculty, staff, and students at Pitt through education, training, and outreach—particularly among innovators from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented academic disciplines.

• Enhance a recently deployed commercialization process at Pitt that includes experiential learning and customer-discovery support for Pitt Innovator teams.

• Improve Pitt’s connection to—and support of—the Pittsburgh region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in nurturing startup companies emerging from University innovations.

“Through support provided by the I-Corps program, the University of Pittsburgh now will be able to develop an even deeper pipeline of commercialization opportunities from a broader group of innovators, further enhancing our impact on regional and national economic development,” Malandro says.

The Innovation Institute, launched in November 2013, serves as the hub of innovation commercialization and entrepreneurship activities at the University of Pittsburgh.