2020 Pitt Ventures Student Challenge Awards Ceremony  

October 22, 4 p.m. YOUTUBE PREMIErE

Thank you Sponsors!


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An entrepreneurial student or Team Applied for the competition. 


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Students working with a Pitt Faculty Member helped advance His/Her technology or research towards commercialization. 


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The teams were paired with A Business Mentor to help  Them Prepare Their pitch.


Usually, the final Pitches occur during Pitt's Science Event and are announcd Before the Innovation Showcase

This year, the competition is all virtual. 

Tune in to see the YouTube Premiere of the winners of the Pitt Ventures Student Challenge, Oct 22, 4 p.m.! 

The link to our YouTube Premiere has been posted!

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Celebrate with us as we award over $62,000 to the student winners of the Wells Student Healthcare Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup!

View a list of the technologies in our online AI platform. 

View all finalist videos on our YouTube playlist. 


Michael G. Wells Student Healthcare Competition

The Michael G. Wells Competition is a part of the Pitt Ventures Student Challenge sponsored by the Michael G. Wells Entrepreneurial Scholars Fund, and is for University of Pittsburgh students who are developing innovations related to the healthcare field.


1st Place : $20,000

2nd Place: $10,000

3rd Place: $5000


 2020 Finalists


A mesh implant coated with bactericidal graphene that provides long-lasting prevention of infection superior to currently popular organic chemical coatings.

Dr. Rui Liang, M.D Department of OBGYN;
Eric Shaker, Bioengineering Undergraduate


The Biocarpet is a new endovascular device that can be thermoformed to treat peripheral arterial disease occurring in small and complex anatomies, including lesions occurring across joints.

Jonathan Vande Geest, PhD, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine;  Sneha Jeevan, Translational Lead, Bioengineering; William Wagner, PhD, Surgery; John Pacella, M.D. Interventional Cardiology

Organ Perfusion Stent

An innovative endovascular device that provides oxygenated blood flow to critical abdominal organs to maintain organ health for transplant harvesting.

Youngjae Chun, PhD, Industrial Engineering, Bioengineeering; Moataz Elsisy, PhD Student, Industrial Engineering; Bryan Tillman, MD, PhD, Vascular Surgery

MATS Proteomics

Clinical and research labs need a new state-of-the-art analytical technology for protein detection and quantitation at the whole proteome level. MATS stands for the machine learning-assisted, hybrid targeted-shotgun proteomics technology, and was developed to accurately measure the absolute amounts of thousands of proteins in a complex biological sample.

Kein Xiao, PhD, Pharmacology & Chemical Biology; Vamshi Bussa, Translational Lead; Parmjeet Randhawa, MD, Pathology; George Tseng, ScD, Biostatistics

Kuzneski Innovation Cup

The Kuzneski Innovation Cup is sponsored by Andrew and Laurie Kuzneski, and is for University of Pittsburgh students who are developing innovations that can positively impact people’s lives in areas other than healthcare.   


1st Place : $15,000

2nd Place: $7500

3rd Place: $5000


2020 Finalists

Charge OR

For perioperative care providers and administrators, who struggle with the time-honored system of managing staff and patients within the perioperative setting, Charge OR is a multi-platform web application that allows for the efficient delivery of real-time surgical and anesthetic scheduling information.

Evan E. Lebovitz, MD, Anesthesiologist, UPMC, MBA Candidate; Mark E. Hudson, MD, MBA, Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine; John Hammer, PI Capital Group, LLC; Ian Magazine, Advisor/Mentor; Niharika Gupta, Med Student

Al Smiles

For patients, dentists, and payers who want a seamless denture experience, the additive-manufactured denture dramatically reduces cost, appointments, and waste providing a more efficient experience for the patient.

John Ference, DMD, MDS, MPH, MSS, FACP, Dental School; John Iaconis, MS, Katz; Griffen Addie, CBA; Chris Ference, Aarav Surapaneni


For fatigue risk-management companies who need better ways to track and predict changes in performance related to alertness, the PACT will provide behaviorally meaningful and actionable information regarding performance and behavioral risk, which is not captured by standard measures of alertness.

Chris Connaboy, PhD, Sports Medicine, Anne Germain, PhD, Psychiatry, Alice LaGoy, Graduate Student, Sports Medicine

Port Thermometer

For individuals who receive chemotherapy or intravenous infusions through an implanted vascular device (“mediport”) and are at high risk of life-threatening blood stream infections, Port Thermometer is a temperature sensor embedded within their mediport that automatically alerts caregivers of a fever.

Dierdre Nolfi-Donegan, MD, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Johnson Bandi, MBA/MS-MIS Candidate, Katz; Reshma Sara Pothen, MS Candidate, Katz


NanoNares is a platform technology for pharmaceutical companies that develop respiratory drugs who experience high failure rates in clinical trials. The nose is the window to the lung and NanoNaresuses nasal cells to generate robust data that improves drug efficacy testing, thereby reducing failure rates and therefore costs.

Nadia Boutaoui, PhD, MBA, Clinical Research; Van Mai, MD, MBA; Satish Madiraju, MD, MBA; Juan Celedon, MD, Pediatrics; Lawrence Vernetti, PhD; Chris Rasmussen, Mentor


More about the Competition:

  • All innovations from Pitt research projects or intellectual property 
  • Entrepreneurial students (undergraduate and graduate) or postdocs are supported by a faculty member. Entrepreneurial students pitch in the fall semester of each year at the Innovation Showcase. 
  • New!!! Cash awarded to each winning entrepreneurial student team (individual or group).
    • $1,000 1st prize

    • $750 2nd prize

    • $500 3rd prize

  • A total of over $60,000 in funds are awarded during the Pitt Ventures Student Challenge and funds are awarded to participating faculty department.