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November 23, 2016

Commercialization funds available

Faculty innovators have until Dec. 1 to apply for awards of up to $35,000 to help move their discoveries toward commercialization.

Two new funding opportunities are available as part of $1 million in Chancellor Innovation Commercialization Funds that have been committed over the course of two years. • Awards of up to $35,000 are available to move innovations toward commercialization. A pool of $75,000 is available.

•Awards of up to $35,000 are available for innovators who are working with a partner that can provide a dollar-for-dollar cash match. Partners could include a private investor, foundation, an industry partner, another university or a regional economic development group. A pool of $75,000 is available.

This funding targets faculty who have developed technology on campus and who need funds to continue developing their innovations toward commercialization, said Evan Facher, Innovation Institute senior director for innovation commercialization. “We want these things to get to society where they can have an impact,” he said.

From among the applicants, up to 10 semifinalists will be selected to present a five-minute pitch and answer questions before a panel of judges on Jan. 20.

Semifinalists be notified by Dec. 15 and, in alignment with the Innovation Institute’s underlying educational mission to enhance entrepreneurship on campus, will be coached by Innovation Institute staff to develop their pitches, Facher said.

Winners will be notified by Jan. 24 and funds will be awarded Feb. 1, running through July 31, 2017.

The speedy timeline is designed to simulate a fast-paced, deadline-driven development environment. “There’s a different speed to business,” Facher said.

“We’re trying to move our academic discoveries toward commercialization. It’s the way these innovations are going to have societal impact.”

Full-time tenured/tenure-stream Pitt faculty with a primary appointment in an academic department may apply.

Awardees must have submitted an innovation disclosure covering their discovery to the Innovation Institute.

Invention disclosures, the first step in commercializing an innovation, have been on the rise at Pitt, with disclosures topping 300 in each of the past two fiscal years. Nearly 1,150 disclosures have been filed over the past four years, with a record-high 314 filed in fiscal year 2016, according to Innovation Institute annual reports.

For more details or to submit a proposal, visit

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 7

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