The Big Idea Center hosts various programs and competitions for all Pitt students throughout the year

I+E Explore Opportunities

No startup idea? No problem!

Our I+E Explore programs are geared towards Pitt students of all levels and disciplines who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship but may not necessarily have a startup idea. Our I+E Explore events will provide Pitt students with opportunities to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship topics by participating in fun, hands-on, no-pressure activities throughout the year outside of our signature events such as Big Idea Blitz or the Randall Family Big Idea Competition.

No startup idea required to participate — the only thing you need to bring is your curiosity!

View Upcoming I+E Explore Events

Fall 2023 – TBD

We are currently working on our Fall 2023 schedule of events — check back in mid- to late August 2023 for the full list!

Start Smart Legal Series – Various Dates, Zoom

The Start Smart series hosts various seminars and workshops throughout the semester that cover a wide range of legal topics for startup businesses. During each event, you will be able to learn from K&L Gates’s startup lawyers and gain valuable insight on how to legally start/run your startup.

Various registration deadlines.

Learn More

Big Idea Kickoff Week | TBD

Join the Big Idea Center for Kickoff week to celebrate the start of the 2023-2024 academic year! Throughout the week we will have activities for you to explore innovation and entrepreneurship and engage with students, alumni, and Pittsburgh entrepreneurs! No startup idea is required to participate. Stay tuned for event announcements by following us on social media! @pittbigidea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Big Idea Blitz | TBD (Workshop), TBD (Final Presentations)

As part of this Fall’s Blitz, your team will participate in a 24-hour workshop with Big Idea Center staff and entrepreneurs in residence. The workshop will include 1-on-1 coaching, practice pitch rounds, and feedback. After one week of concentrated work, your team will return for final presentations in front of a group of guest judges!

Application deadline: TBD, 5:00 P.M.

Kuzneski Innovation Cup | October and November

Now in its third year with the Big Idea Center, The Kuzneski Innovation Cup is back and looking for NEW big ideas! Compete in the Big Idea Center’s first major competition of the year for a chance to win part of the $25,000 total prize pool!

Gain valuable feedback, build up the skills to further advance your idea, and be ready to compete in the 2024 Randall Family Big Idea Competition!

Application deadline: TBD, 11:59 P.M.

Women Entrepreneurship Week 2023 | October 16-20

Throughout the week of October 16-20, the Big Idea Center (as part of Pitt’s Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship) will be showcasing a variety of women entrepreneurs from the Pittsburgh region. They will share their unique stories of what it’s like to be a woman in the world of entrepreneurship and what important lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Follow along as we highlight the roles of women in entrepreneurship through exciting social media content and in-person activities!

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023 | November 13-19

Join the Big Idea Center and Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship as we celebrate entrepreneurship in and around the city of Pittsburgh. GEW highlights include Steel City Startups PittxCMU, the Kuzneski Innovation Cup Finalist Showcase, and the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) Pitch Competition.

Stay up to date on Global Entrepreneurship Week program and speaker announcements by following the Big Idea Center @pittbigidea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Accelerator Opportunities

Blast Furnace – May through June

The Blast Furnace is Pitt’s student accelerator providing access to a deep mentor network, inspirational co-working space, and a rich curriculum preparing student startups for creating and growing their businesses. In our accelerator program, students will dive deeper into customer discovery and gain a better understanding of their market and whether their idea is feasible.

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Incubator Opportunities

The Forge — August/September through April/May

Pitt students and alumni who have developed advanced ideas and startup projects are eligible to apply for the Forge, Pitt’s program for ongoing startup incubation.

Learn more


Additional Funding Opportunities

Big Idea Advantage Fund — Ongoing

Our goal at the Big Idea Center is to provide students with the opportunity to take their ideas from concept to reality. We are thrilled to be able to take this mission one step further with the Big Idea Advantage Fund! This investment opportunity is geared towards students who have an advanced idea and are looking to take that idea to the next step towards startup creation and business growth.


Looking for info on past events?

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