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Pitt rounds up three programs into one institute to guide entrepreneurs, innovations

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 3:42 p.m.

Ann Dugan was 3,000 miles away in Palm Springs, Calif., speaking to some of the nation's top entrepreneurs as the final chapter of her 20-year career at the University of Pittsburgh unfolded Thursday.

Dugan, 60, of the Strip District will step aside next year after founding and leading Pitt's Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence for 20 years.

She couldn't be happier with Pitt's new Innovation Institute, which will promote new products, technologies and companies established in Western Pennsylvania.

The Institute, introduced Thursday, will bring three Pitt programs under a single umbrella to foster a culture of innovation across the sprawling university and to grow the region's economy.

“I'm very excited about it. It's been almost a year in the making. I couldn't think of a better way to write my last chapter than to collaborate in the formation and details of putting it together,” said the woman who grew the entrepreneurial institute from a $300,000 start-up in the graduate school of business to a self-sustaining, $3 million-a-year operation through which the school reached out to hundreds of small businesses and start-up companies.

The three programs will continue to operate, but cooperatively, officials said.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence focuses on the business community; Pitt's Office of Technology Management shepherds university research from the lab to the marketplace; and the Office of Enterprise Development works to form businesses from university technology.

According to Pitt officials, 98 start-up companies have roots around university-borne innovations since 1996, while more than 800 start-up companies throughout the region have been guided by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence since 1993. And more than 40,000 business leaders have attended about 1,400 educational programs sponsored by Pitt.

Marc S. Malandro, Pitt's associate vice chancellor for technology management and commercialization and director of offices of technology management and of enterprise development, is the institute's interim director.

“Forming this comprehensive institute will allow previously separate units to integrate their resources and avoid duplication of services,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson.

The institute will be housed in the Gardner Steel Conference Center at Thackeray and O'Hara streets, Oakland. Its initial capital and operating budget of about $4.5 million will support a staff of about 40.

Pitt's announcement occurs two years after the introduction of a Carnegie Mellon University program to promote start-ups there.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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