2013 Big Idea Competition Timeline and Rules


The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is an experience-based learning opportunity offered to University of Pittsburgh undergraduate and graduate students. The 2012-2013 competition is being coordinated by the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership within the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration. The past three years of the competition have seen an increase in applications (89 in 2009, 148 in 2010 and 199 in 2011), expansion in the scope of the competing teams (emphasizing the interdisciplinary aspect) and increase in the robustness of the ideas (with many winners securing follow-on funding and generating revenue within months after the competition). The annual Randall Family Big Idea Competition culminates with an evening where the finalists present to a panel of expert judges along with Pitt students, faculty, alumni, entrepreneurs, investors, and program sponsors in order to showcase and support the growing entrepreneurial network at Pitt.


The objectives of the Randall Family Big Idea Competition are:

  • To support University of Pittsburgh students in launching and growing new business ventures in western Pennsylvania;
  • To provide a forum for emerging student entrepreneurs to network with potential advisors, partners, customers and funders;
  • To offer an experience-based learning opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines across the university;
  • To highlight the expanding entrepreneurial culture at Pitt to the university community, the region and prospective students.

Calendar for 2012 - 2013

  • Big Idea Kick-Off
    Friday, November 16th 2012 from 5:00 - 6:00p.m. (Venue: 101 Mervis Hall)
  • Information Session
    Friday, November 30th 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. (Venue: 102 Benedum Hall, Engineering)
    Friday, December 14th 5:00p.m. - 6:00p.m. (Venue: 104 Mervis Hall)
  • 3 Day Start Up (Venues: 114 Mervis Hall; Team Rooms, 101 & 102)
    Friday, January 11th & Saturday, January 12th, 2013 from 9:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.
    Sunday, January 13th 2013 from 2:00p.m.- 6:00p.m.
  • Application Submission Deadline
    January 25th 2013 at 5:00p.m.
  • Semi-Final Round
    Friday, March 8th 2013 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    (Venue: 115, 117 & B75 Mervis)
  • Final Round and Showcase
    Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    (Venue: Pittsburgh Athletic Association)


Entrants must be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate classes at the University of Pittsburgh Oakland Campus, or incoming students accepted and matriculated for enrollment in undergraduate or graduate classes at the University of Pittsburgh Oakland campus at the time of application, and throughout the competition. In-person participation in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition and Showcase is required. All decisions by judges are final.

  • Powered by Pitt
    The Office of Technology Management (OTM) will provide a portfolio of university technologies not yet fully commercialized around which student teams can form, develop business plans, and compete in the competition.
  • 3 Day Start-Up
    An academic program open to all students that creates an entrepreneurial laboratory on the Pitt campus that brings diverse backgrounds together for an experience-based learning activities for idea generation and team-building.
  • Wells Scholars
    The Michael G. Wells Entrepreneurial Scholars Award is given in connection with OTM's annual Science Conference and "First Look" Technology Showcase, is to motivate students in the Schools of the Health Sciences who have an interest in health care entrepreneurship.
  • Power Up Pittsburgh
    The Office of the Mayor will provide a portfolio of challenges the city of Pittsburgh is facing, around which business solutions could be developed; student teams creating ideas to solve these problems can form, develop business plans, and compete in the competition.

Students may enter in one of four categories:

  • Energy & Technology
  • Social Innovation,
  • Life Sciences,
  • Pitt Innovation

The winner of each category will receive a $20,000 prize. Additionally, students not selected as finalists can enter the Showcase Wildcard Round, voted on by all of the event's attendees, for a $5,000 prize.

  • Innovation Works invests capital, business expertise and other resources into high-potential companies with the greatest likelihood for regional economic impact.
  • Pittsburgh Gateways provide support for those seeking the acceleration of technology-based businesses to combat community deterioration in economically distressed areas.
  • Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse* provides capital investments and customized company formation and business growth services with promising innovations in the following concentrations: biotechnology tools, healthcare IT, and medical devices.
  • University of Pittsburgh serves as the hub of all innovation development and commercialization activities at the University and its affiliate Office of Enterprise Development.