Pittsburgh Resources that Support Innovation and Commercialization

PHDA at a glance –

The Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance (PHDA) represents an unprecedented collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), and UPMC. These partners work together to accelerate the translation of health data-focused technologies into products and services that save lives, improve health, and reduce healthcare spending. The PHDA provides support for projects led by Pitt and CMU faculty that strive to bridge the gap between research and practice, with a pathway to commercial application. Projects focus on a range of topics including solutions for improved patient outcomes, computational diagnostics, immunotherapy, age-related disease, and infrastructure and efficiencies.

The PHDA is a great resource for Pitt and CMU faculty who want to bring an idea to life or further develop an idea that has already started its path to commercialization. You can learn more about the PHDA here. In addition to the PHDA, both partner Universities offer a variety of resources to support innovation and commercialization in health and healthcare. A few of these resources are highlighted below.

Resources to help move ideas to the marketplace –


Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at CMU

The Swartz Center offers educational resources, programs, competitions, and activities that encourage entrepreneurship. No matter what phase of the entrepreneurship cycle, these services can take an idea to the next level. The Center’s goal is to accelerate bringing research innovations and promising ideas to the global marketplace and helping all entrepreneurial students, faculty, staff and alumni tap into the “innovation ecosystem.” The Center’s offerings include an incubator program, networking opportunities, office hours with a variety of experts, structured education through courses and degrees, and more. Among the host of Swartz Center programs is the CONNECTS Series, which offers educational seminars and networking opportunities. CONNECTS is targeted to students and runs throughout the academic year but is free and open to the public. Seminar topics include customer discovery, agile product development, legal issues for startups, financial modeling, and cash flow.

CMU Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC)

CMU’s CTTEC is responsible for facilitating and accelerating movement of research and technology from the university to the marketplace. The Center helps faculty, staff, and students with the important technical details of launching an idea into the market. Resources for innovators and researchers include guidance and assistance with the disclosure of new inventions, copyright and patent protection, and licensing for outside companies and spin-offs. CTTEC also offers support with business plan development, finding management talent, networking, and securing incubation space. In fiscal year 2019, CMU produced 13 new spin-off companies and saw the disclosure of 286 inventions!

University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute

The Innovation Institute serves as Pitt’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Institute encompasses a variety of programs open to faculty, staff, students, and the public including competitions and funding, accelerators and incubators, mentoring, networking events, and educational resources. The Innovation Institute provides support for Pitt innovators in the realm of disclosing new inventions, pursuing IP protection, licensing, and enterprise development. The Innovation Institute is also home to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence which assists entrepreneurs throughout Western PA in starting, growing, or transitioning their businesses.

Coulter Translational Research Program at the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt

The Coulter Program is led and administered by the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Bioengineering in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Innovation Institute. The program seeks to identify, select, develop, and commercialize promising projects undertaken together by bioengineers and clinical faculty that address unmet clinical needs and better patient care. This includes licensing technologies and enabling startup formation. Projects are funded up to $100K and to date, 11 Coulter-funded projects have been licensed.

Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI

The University of Pittsburgh’s CTSI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) nationwide network that provides support to bridge the gap between innovative, translational research, and effective clinical and public health practice and policy. The Pitt CTSI creates and encourages opportunities that better the human condition by helping researchers find study participants, providing seed funding for an idea with potential, or giving guidance on the dos and don’ts of clinical research as well as lending knowledge and tools that can move research, projects, or ideas from start to finish. Resources provided by the Pitt CTSI include research facilitators, funding and grant submission support, educational programming, and training. The Institute also offers help with human subjects and clinical trial study design and research, statistical guidance, as well as data management and bioinformatics resources.

There are a variety of PHDA resources available through both Pitt and CMU that support commercialization and innovation in healthcare. It’s also important to note that many of the resources mentioned above are now available online or via teleconference due to COVID-19.

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