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Pitt establishes $1 million fund for faculty, student business ventures

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On Thursday, Pitt announced it will give $1 million to Pitt faculty and students looking to put the products of their research on the market.

The $1 million in gap funding money — called the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds — will immediately, and over the next two years support projects with the potential for commercial success. Pitt will distribute the funds through the Innovation Institute’s Pitt Ventures program.

According to a University release, the funds will help researchers determine a need for their product, identify business partners, form a business or develop prototypes.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has been pushing for the commercialization of research at Pitt since early 2015.

“The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is flourishing at Pitt,” Gallagher said in a release. He added that the funds will help faculty and students “translate their innovations into products and services that positively impact society.”

Some of the $1 million has already been allotted to members of four teams who participated in Pitt’s 1st Gear program this April — an initiative from the Innovation Institute that guides students in creating business strategies for their products.

The products from those teams include a power wheelchair for people with visual impairments and a prosthetic device that senses its user’s stress level.

Pitt Ventures will also receive an additional $400,000 over the next two years.

A maximum of $150,000 will be available to applicants whose products have the potential to be licensed by other companies. Pitt innovators who collaborate with an outside institution, or — twice a year — who submit proposals to the Innovation Institute can each receive a maximum of $75,000.

In the press release, Marc Malandro, the Innovation Institute’s founding director, said the success of the Institute since its inception in 2013 has led to a need for University funding.

“More faculty and students are engaging with the Innovation Institute every year,” Malandro said in the release. “Through the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds, we will be able to meet the rising demand from our Pitt innovators and…speed the path to market for their discoveries.”

Source: Pitt establishes $1 million fund for faculty, student business ventures

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