SHRS Innovation Challenge

The SHRS Innovation Challenge is designed to move early-stage discoveries from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences towards the market in tandem with the First Gear NSF I-Corps program.




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A total of $50,000* is available to the participants of the SHRS Innovation Challenge. 

Please complete the form on this page in order to apply.


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The SHRS innovation challenge is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to translate their ideas and developments, originating in our labs and classrooms, into rehabilitation products and services that have real impact.


David Brienza, PhD, Associate Dean for Technology & Innovation
SHRS is a leader among its peers when it comes to developing and translating key technologies that advance innovation in rehabilitation science. 
40 teams from SHRS have completed the First Gear Program.
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First Gear provided me with a framework within which to understand a new vocabulary related to product discovery, pitching ideas, and moving a product to market.  First Gear also introduced me to a group of people dedicated to assisting me on this journey who I never even knew existed at Pitt. It was like I found a hidden world at Pitt that couldn't wait to help me navigate unchartered waters!


Dr. Catherine Palmer, PhD, Director of AuD Program and Associate Professor

How it Works:

The SHRS Innovation Challenge is open to faculty and staff working on University of Pittsburgh intellectual property in the School of the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Students are welcome to participate on teams led by a faculty member.

The Challenge is done in conjunction with the First Gear NSF I-Corps Program.

  • 6 to 10 teams from SHRS programs will be selected for the Innovation Institute's 2020 Spring First Gear Cohort. 6 sessions from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. will be held on the following Tuesdays:
    • 2/11, 2/25, 3/10, 3/24, 4/7 and the final pitch and award judging session to be held on April 28, 2020 in Forbes Tower, 4th Floor, Room 4060.
    • Accepted applications will be limited to no more than two applications per program. 
    • 15-minute interviews will be scheduled with semi-finalists in January after the application deadline.
    • Finalists will be announced in early January 2020.
  • Each team accepted to the Challenge will be awarded $3,000 from the National Science Foundation I-Corps Program through the Innovation Institute.  
  • Two winners will be awarded $10,000 after the successful completion of the Pitt Ventures First Gear. 
  • Learn more about First Gear here.
  • The deadline is now Saturday, January 11, 2020.
  • *If participants have already gone through a previous First Gear Cohort for the technology submitted, they are not eligible for an additional $3,000. However, they are eligible for one of the $10,000 prizes upon another successful completion of First Gear Program. 25 new customer discovery interviews must be completed by all accepted teams.
  • Questions?  Contact Dave Brienza at
  • Program List: 
    • Audiology

    • Counseling

    • Emergency Medicine

    • Health Information Management

    • Human Engineering Research Lab

    • Nutrition and Dietetics

    • Physician Assistant Studies

    • Physical Therapy

    • Prosthetics and Orthotics

    • Occupational Therapy

    • Rehabilitation Technology

    • Speech Language Pathology

    • Sports Medicine/Athletic Training

    • Human Engineering Research Laboratories

    • Neuromuscular Research Laboratory

Please apply here. Deadline extended to January 11, 2020.