Innovation Institute Blog

Karen Woolstrum

Recent Posts

Meet our Volunteer Mentor of the Year: Paula Grendys

There is no guidebook for every path that entrepreneurs navigate, but there are those that have been on the path before who can point way. That's why our volunteer mentors are crucial here at the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute.  Our mentors provide support for Pitt faculty, students, and staff ranging from pitch preparation to honest, real world business input. They are integral to our work.
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Pitt Innovates Spotlight: A Fresh Pair of Eyes

July 29, 2019 By Karen Woolstrum Pitt researchers are passionate about their cutting edge discoveries that can positively impact lives.  The Pitt Innovates Spotlight illuminates Pitt researchers and how they are translating some of their lab discoveries to real-world applications. For Alexis Nolfi, her quest to deliver a better therapy for dry eye is personal one.  After visiting her own eye doctor for a persistent dry eye problem, Alexis and her doctor realized that available treatments, most of which are eye drops, were falling short of treating dry eye patients' symptoms.  “What’s the first thing your optometrist or ophthalmologist does before they administer eye drops?  They hand you a tissue.  That’s because a majority of the product is not remaining on the eye but rather is being blinked out of the eye.  The little bit that remains is quickly dissipated,” she said.
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Curiosity Got the Best of Them

Last year, Shuo Li stepped out of Dr. Kevin Chen’s lab donning a blazer and tie, not the everyday outfit for an electrical and computer engineering graduate student.  Shuo and two other colleagues, Aidong Yan and Ran Zou, had created their team called “Airborne Laser” just six weeks earlier and were on their way to the final pitches of the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, an experience-based learning opportunity open to all Pitt students.  What they did not expect was that they would reach the final round of the competition and end the night on stage clutching a giant check made out for $15,000. 
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What Do Investors Talk About When You Leave the Room?

  When your pitch is all said and done and you’ve successfully navigated the Q&A portion, what is it that investors talk about after you leave the room?  Often times, angel investors will break out into what’s known as a “mind-share” meaning they discuss what they like vs. what they didn’t like about your startup or innovation.  We asked angel investor John J. Jacobs from the Pittsburgh chapter of the Keiretsu Forum and Pitt School of Law alumnus, the top questions that come up after they hear your pitch.  
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New Blast Furnace Podcasts: Life Science Entrepreneurship & Mentorship

Blast Furnace Podcast #18 – Life Science Entrepreneurship with Mike Flock, Ph.D.
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