pitt starts fund to invest in student-startups

What’s the Big Idea? Pitt launching new fund to invest in student startups

The University of Pittsburgh’s Big Idea Center is launching a namesake fund to provide cash investments in students’ startups.

The Big Idea Advantage Fund will invest between $10,000 and $25,000 to Pitt students from freshman to post-doctorate from all parts of the university. It will begin accepting applications on Feb. 22.

The first investments in approximately four student startups are to occur this May. Similar awards will be made in both the fall and spring semesters in the future.

The new fund’s founding donors are David Toth, former CEO and co-founder of NetRatings Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRT); Douglas Condon, managing director of Three Rivers Energy; and David Norman, former co-founder and chairman of Edgewater Networks and former chairman of NetRatings.

“Pittsburgh and Pitt are where I built a strong technology foundation,” Toth, who graduated in 1978, said in a prepared statement. “I had to move to Silicon Valley to become an entrepreneur. Our goal with the Big Idea Advantage Fund is to bring real-world entrepreneurship to more Pitt students and Pittsburgh by investing in their ideas. This is a long-term investment in Pitt and Pittsburgh.”

Condon and Toth are serving on the fund’s investment committee with Evan Facher, vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, and Bryan Salesky, co-founder and CEO of Argo AI. Condon and Salesky are also Pitt alums.

“Since its launch in 2018, the Big Idea Center for student innovation has been building a suite of programs, events and resources that provide Pitt students with experiential innovation and entrepreneurship learning opportunities,” Babs Carryer, director of the Big Idea Center, said in a prepared statement. “Through the Big Idea Advantage Fund, we can provide students who demonstrate exceptional commitment and whose ideas show commercial potential with critical early funding to support them before they are able to generate revenue.”

Pitt trustee and alum Bob Randall and his family supported the Randall Family Big Idea Competition for several years. In 2018, they committed $2 million to establish the Big Idea Center, which is part of Pitt’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

It is recommended that interested students have participated in at least one Big Idea Center or related event or program prior to applying.

Courtesy: Biz Journals

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