The University of Pittsburgh has dedicated $1 million in gap funding over the next 2 years to assist Pitt innovators seeking to commercialize their research discoveries. Coordinated through the University’s Innovation Institute, the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds will assist faculty and students with Pitt discoveries in identifying unmet needs in the market for their innovations, developing prototypes, identifying potential commercial partners, or forming a new enterprise.
The Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds will be distributed in the following ways:
- Pitt Ventures
- Accelerated Licensing
- Requests for Proposals
- Collaborative Innovation Grants
Two McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members received funding through the Pitt Ventures program. Pitt Ventures is the Innovation Institute’s program assisting Pitt innovators in moving their innovations through the multiple stages of development toward commercialization. The new funding will provide $400,000 in additional support for this initiative over the next 2 years targeted at innovators participating in the Pitt Ventures Gear Commercialization Program. This includes the upcoming Michael G. Wells Student Healthcare Entrepreneurship Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup, which is focused on non-health care innovations.
The first Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds have been deployed to four teams that participated in Pitt Ventures’ latest “1st Gear” stage in April. The two winning McGowan Institute affiliated teams are:
- Manual Wheelchair Virtual Seating Coach (MVSC)
Innovators: Rory Cooper, PhD, S. Andrea Sundaram: Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL)
Description: Pressure sores result from individuals sitting in wheelchairs and not performing frequent-enough weight shifts due to reduced or absent nerve sensation. The resulting ulcers are a significant health concern with negative effects on quality of life and expensive treatments. While the HERL team previously developed a tool to assist those in motorized wheelchairs, until now a solution for those in manual wheelchairs was not available.
- VIP Wheelchair
Innovators: Dan Ding, PhD, Hyun Ka, PhD: HERL
Description: The VIP Wheelchair is a control system to improve power wheelchair driving accessibility, independence, and safety for people with vision and mobility impairment. The wheelchair incorporates a number of feedback and control mechanisms to help visually impaired users avoid obstacles and drop-offs.
“The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is flourishing at Pitt. We are excited to provide additional resources to our faculty and student innovators, helping them translate their innovations into products and services that positively impact society,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.
“More faculty and students are engaging with the Innovation Institute every year. Through the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds, we will be able to meet the rising demand from our Pitt innovators and help them speed the path to market for their discoveries,” said Innovation Institute Founding Director Marc Malandro.