Pitt partners with Beijing university

By Dale Shoemaker / News Editor

Pitt’s Innovation Institute announced a new partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing Tuesday that will kick-start collaborative projects in technology, commercialization and research.

According to the Innovation Institute’s agreement with Tsinghua University, the partnership will facilitate travel between the United States and China, through which professors from both universities will explore potential innovation and research projects. The trips will include Innovation Institute seminars at Tsinghua, semi-annual “technology showcases” in Beijing, opportunities to explore and examine one another’s innovations and business-plan competitions and entrepreneurship events for faculty, students and staff.

Jin Qinxian, dean of the Office of Technology Transfer at Tsinghua, said the new partnership will open a pathway between the two countries’ business industries.

“Students and faculty from both universities can innovate and build successful startups and produce collaborative research,” Jin said in a statement. “Through our cooperation, we will provide access to the market, government and enterprise resources we possess in China.”

Evan Facher, director of enterprise development at the institute, said one facet of the partnership allows student entrepreneurs to travel to China and present their ideas for startups, projects and businesses — and potentially receive funding dollars from Chinese investors at Tsinghua.

The Beijing university is also sending potential investors to Pitt Feb. 12, where Innovation Institute students will pitch ideas and lobby for investment dollars, according to Facher.

This student-based aspect of the partnership is just one aspect of the program — the partnership also facilitates research, seminars and more for students, faculty and staff at both schools.

“While they have investors to send over, we don’t have that kind of venture arm,” Facher said.

He said Pitt offers workshops on commercializing research in return for the investment opportunities the Chinese school is offering.

According to the release, this isn’t Pitt’s first partnership with Tsinghua. In 2011, Pitt’s School of Medicine began a research partnership with Tsinghua for Chinese medical and graduate students. The program facilitated the students’ travel to Pitt for two years of training in biomedical research.

The Innovation Institute will facilitate a more technology- and business-based relationship.

Marc Malandro, founding director of Innovation Institute, said in a statement that the schools are bound to work well together for their second partnership.

“This relationship will build on the strengths of both our universities and represents an opportunity for the University of Pittsburgh to create a cooperative educational model with one of China’s premier universities for the training of faculty, staff and students in global innovation and entrepreneurship,” Malandro said.

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated that the Innovation Institute brings in around $760 million for research annually. It is Pitt that brings in that amount of money. The story has been updated. 

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