Important Competition Dates

Dates, times, and locations for all RFBIC 2023 events are subject to change.

The Big Idea Center will follow the University of Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 requirements and thus reserves the right to make any necessary event changes in order to comply with Pitt’s COVID-19 policies.


The following dates are mandatory for ALL participating teams

Application Deadline – February 5, 11:59 P.M.

Teams Notified of Acceptance Status into the RFBIC 2023 Competition – February 6 – 10

Bootcamp Week & Mentor Assignments – February 13 – 17

Practice Pitch Round (optional, but HIGHLY encouraged) – TBD

Semi-Final Round Pitch Submission Deadline – March 5, 11:59 P.M. (Virtual submission)

Teams Notified of Acceptance Status into the RFBIC 2023 Final Round – March 13


The following dates are mandatory for final round participants ONLY

Virtual Final Round Info Session – March 20, 5:00 P.M.

Final Round – April 14, 15-Minute Presentation Time Slots from 12:00-4:00 P.M.

Big Idea Center Student Innovation Showcase + Randall Awards – April 18, Time TBD


More about the Competition


Since its inception in 2009, the competition has attracted hundreds of interdisciplinary teams seeking to bring their big ideas to market. The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is made possible through the generous support of the Randall family. Robert P. Randall, a Pitt alumnus and trustee, was president and chief executive officer of the Three Rivers Aluminum Company (TRACO), a prominent regional door and window company, which was acquired by Alcoa and is now a division of Kawneer. Mr. Randall continues to give back to the community through his position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, his work with the United States Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member of both the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

Who is eligible?

The competition is offered to all Pitt undergraduate and graduate students across all schools and departments. Post-doctoral fellows and UPMC-affiliated medical residents are included.


  • First prize – $25,000
  • Second prize – $15,000
  • Third prize – $5,000
  • Fourth prize – $2,000
  • Video round – $2,000

Meet the Big Idea Competition Team!

Rhonda Schuldt

Rhonda has a career rich in innovative problem-solving and entrepreneurial action, from leading an incubator for human service organizations, directing public-private regional economic revitalization initiatives, and founding several businesses, to executive leadership in technology startups. Rhonda enjoys helping innovative problem-solvers navigate the complexity, uncertainty, thrill, and satisfaction of realizing their entrepreneurial potential.

Jessica Malandro
Manager for Student Programs, 

Jess has been a part of the Big Idea Center since Fall 2018. She is a Pitt alum with extensive experience in student engagement as well as program management. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s of Education part-time at Pitt’s School of Education. In her role as Manager for Student Programs, Jess oversees the organization and execution of all department competitions, workshops, and programming. Additional responsibilities include management of the center’s YouTube page, in addition to all digital video production efforts as they relate to in-classroom and public use.

Tiffany Bicek
Outreach and Engagement Coordinator,

Tiffany currently serves as the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for the Big Idea Center. She holds a BS degree in Marketing Management from Grove City College and is currently pursuing her MBA part-time at the Katz Graduate School of Business. She assists with the organization and execution of Big Idea Center I+E Explore events as well as manages the Big Idea Center’s marketing efforts, including our website, social media (@pittbigidea), and blog.


Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Joanna is a Business Innovation Advisor with Brights Lights Innovations helping small businesses create profitable growth with accelerated times to market. Since 2007, she held various B2B Marketing Executive roles with Westinghouse Electric Company. She helped create numerous business opportunities leveraging a range of advanced technologies.

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Don is a serial entrepreneur and visionary leader who has consistently leveraged technology to improve the customer experience and top and bottom-line results. Don has been involved in the growth and development of several businesses, including American Eagle Outfitters, from one to 165 stores as President and CEO, Sundance Catalog Company as Executive Director, and Bear Creek Corporation as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. Currently, Don is the President and CEO of Sustainable Composites. Prior to his current role, Don was the Chairman of Deal Flow for BlueTree Allied Angels, a Pittsburgh-based angel investment organization.

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Kelly has spent her career working across many facets of healthcare innovation and product development. First, as the founder and CEO of a medical device company spun out of Carnegie Mellon’s Biomedical Engineering department, followed by an experience leading new product development and R&D within the medical supply corporation that acquired her startup. Prior to her current role at LifeX, Kelly had a business development role at UPMC Enterprises where she looks to connect startups, corporations, and other health systems with strategic opportunities to partner with UPMC to commercialize innovations in healthcare IT and life sciences.

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Stephan has spent the last 25 years in the technology startup ecosystem primarily in senior leadership roles on both the investor side and the operational side of the table. This has helped him develop a deep understanding of how technology can be applied to solve social and commercial challenges. More importantly, he’s learned firsthand how to take innovative ideas and turn them into real businesses.

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Justin has spent his entire career in technology-based roles spanning several verticals. His vast experience in industrial automation and robotics has allowed him to understand complex end to end solutions that arerequired to make businesses successful. He has been leading teams for over a decade in complex environments involving industrial robotics, and more recently in the vertical farming and the micro-fulfillment spaces. Justin has additional experience in start-ups, sales, merger and acquisitions, and intellectual property.


Other Media

Students Showcase Entrepreneurial Drive, PittWire, April 22, 2021

Trek Wins $25,000 Top Prize in 2019 Randall Family Big Idea Competition, Innovation Institute, March 21, 2019

Randall Family Big Idea Competition Gives Golden Tickets to Student Business Endeavors, Pitt Chronicle, April 5, 2017

Ambient Cybersecurity and Tiny Lasers Win Big Prizes for ECE Students at Startup Competition, Pitt Swanson School of Engineering Virtual Newsroom, April 26, 2017

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