A year ago the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute identified a need to offer Pitt students of all levels who have an entrepreneurial impulse an experiential educational program that provides the tools, resources and an on-and-off-campus network for bringing their ideas to life.
With initial funding and a dedication of space from the Innovation Institute, the Blast Furnace was born.
In the first year, 36 teams representing close to 100 students participated in the initial two cohorts. Presently, another 12 teams comprised of 42 students are participating in the 3rd cohort with participation ranging from freshman to post-doctoral students.
Equally overwhelming has been the response from Pitt alumni and members of the Pittsburgh startup community, more than 80 of whom have volunteered their time to be mentors, judges and guest speakers. To date, nearly a third of the participating Blast Furnace teams have been accepted into local Pittsburgh business accelerators through an extremely competitive application process.
With this tremendous early success under our belt, we approached the Pitt crowdfunding portal, EngagePitt, about pursuing a campaign to solicit contributions to help us expand the program, enhance our recruitment efforts, better outfit our new Blast Furnace physical space inside Webster Hall, and provide additional resources to the participating teams to help them move their ideas from concept to a company.
We are humbled and grateful for the fantastic response from alumni, faculty, Innovation Institute staff and members of the local startup community. Through your generous contributions of your time, talent and money, you are making a difference in building the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt.
I hope to see all of you at the Blast Furnace Demo Day, June 9, at the William Pitt Union Kurtzman Room, beginning at 5 p.m. Register here. If you are interested in becoming part of the Blast Furnace mentor network, please contact me at email@example.com
Greg Coticchia Hail to Pitt!