Emerging Pittsburgh Technology Companies Thrive in Oakland Community

Startup Oakland

Startup Oakland

Startup Oakland, a partnership project between Revv Oakland, the Oakland Business Improvement District, and Oakland Real Estate, has captured the momentum of new startup companies moving into upper-floor spaces of the central Oakland business district. The project is growing Pittsburgh’s technology community to significantly impact the region’s economy.

Revv Oakland, the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID), and Oakland Real Estate partnered in October 2013 to kick off Startup Oakland, a project that captures the benefits of locating startup technology businesses in Oakland and provides a home for new businesses to thrive and achieve success. Revv Oakland, a community of technology startups that offers affordable and productive work environments for early stage companies, has already attracted 17 new companies that have created 75 new Oakland-based jobs and expanded startup workspace into more than 10,000 square feet of upper-floor space in the heart of the Oakland business district.

“In order to compete in a 21st century global economy, Pittsburgh must focus on job growth,” said Dan Gilman, Pittsburgh City Councilman District 8. “The companies starting in Oakland will continue to grow and provide a new tax base to the City, new consumers at our retail establishments, new homeowners in our neighborhoods, and new investors in the next generation of innovation. Startup Oakland is critical to the long-term vitality of not only Oakland, but the City and region.”

Not only are new businesses vital to Oakland’s economic success, but businesses also benefit from locating their startups in the neighborhood of Oakland. Shoefitr, a Revv Oakland business, was founded in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University graduates Matt Wilkinson, Nick End and Breck Fresen. The company created software that uses 3D scanning technology to help online shoe shoppers find shoes that are the proper size and fit. Shoefitr now has 41 clients who use the Shoefitr app on their website. There are 700 brands of shoes in their database, which grows daily. The app is accessed from 10 countries in 7 different languages. OBID recently published a feature article on Shoefitr’s growth and success on their blog.

“We have a lot of pride in this city and are excited to be a part of its transformation into a tech town,” said Matt Wilkinson, Co-Founder of Shoefitr. The goal of Startup Oakland is to spur a technology movement that attracts many more businesses to Revv Oakland and for 100 companies to become OBID members and use Revv Oakland business space in the long-term. “This partnership highlights Oakland as the perfect location for new and emerging technology companies and as a 21st century destination attracting future visitors, employees, students and residents,” said Georgia Petropoulos, Executive Director at OBID. The future of Pittsburgh tech companies is in Oakland. Learn more about how to be a part of the movement at http://startupoakland.biz.

About Startup Oakland
Startup Oakland is a unique partnership project that captures the benefits of locating startup technology businesses in the Oakland innovation economy. Formed by a strategic alliance between OBID, Revv Oakland and Oakland Real Estate, Startup Oakland is funded by the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Carnegie Mellon Announces Record Year for Startup Company Creation

Carnegie Mellon University leaders, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) today announced that 36 new startup companies were created at CMU this year — a record for the university and a major economic milestone for the Pittsburgh region.

“I would like to congratulate Carnegie Mellon on this impressive milestone of innovation and excellence. I continue to be impressed with the talent fostered from CMU’s researchers and entrepreneurs,” Casey said. “The technologies highlighted today will impact a vast number of industries including health care, agriculture and transportation. Pennsylvania has led the way in new technologies, and the startups acknowledged today will continue that strong innovative legacy along with developing future economic growth.”

Toomey, a former small business owner, praised CMU and its innovators for their entrepreneurial efforts.

“Congratulations to Carnegie Mellon and the 36 startups it helped launch this year. As a former small business owner, I can attest to the struggles, uncertainties and risks involved in starting one’s own business. With this in mind, I applaud the perseverance of these innovators and CMU’s efforts to help them succeed,” Toomey said.

CMU President Subra Suresh revealed the record and highlighted the startups’ accomplishments at LaunchCMU, a research and entrepreneurial showcase presented by the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Doyle spoke to the audience via a live webcast from Washington, D.C.

“It’s remarkable that one university has spun off so many startup companies in just a year, but Carnegie Mellon has so many talented faculty, students and alumni that it shouldn’t be that surprising. CMU’s combination of world-class researchers with centers set up to help them commercialize their work has made the university a national leader in startup creation — and made an important contribution to our region’s economic growth in the process,” Doyle said. “As someone whose top priority throughout my service in Congress has been promoting good jobs and economic growth in southwestern Pennsylvania, I’ve worked many years with CMU to support and expand its research efforts.”

Alumnus Bruce McWilliams, chairman of the Research and Technology Commercialization Committee of CMU’s Board of Trustees, kicked off the event by acknowledging the role of the CIE and CMU’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation in helping faculty, students and alumni to launch new ventures.

“Carnegie Mellon has shown that innovation can be encouraged and strengthened. Through streamlined university policies and investment in support for faculty and students with interests in entrepreneurship, the university is expanding its impact and creating an example for other research institutions around the world,” said McWilliams, president and chief executive officer of SuVolta Inc.

This year’s startups include PECA Labs, a medical device company that has developed a heart valve with the potential to save thousands of children from undergoing repeated open heart surgeries; PieceMaker Technologies, a company marketing the PieceMaker 3D printer, software and support services to allow stores to print and deliver goods on demand; and SolePower LLC, a company commercializing power-generating shoe insoles for charging portable electronics such as cellphones and GPS devices.

CMU, its faculty and students have spun out more than 130 companies over the past five years and have attracted approximately $400 million of outside investment. Additional companies launched during this five-year period include Duolingo, creator of a free language-learning app that enables users to simultaneously translate documents on the Web; Surtrac Inc., developer of intelligent and adaptive traffic signals to cut down on congestion, save people time and reduce auto emissions; and ActivAided Orthotics, maker of the RecoveryAid shirt, which trains users to perform with proper body mechanics and correct posture for back pain relief.

For more information about CMU startup companies, go to http://www.cmu.edu/cie/launch-cmu/index.html.

Meet CMU students at Spark: Startups and Emerging Companies on October 24-25

cmu-sparkSpark: Startups and Emerging Companies’ is an innovative career event designed to provide a platform for small businesses (typically 500 or less employees) and early stage start-ups to engage Carnegie Mellon University students and alumni.  More than 200 students attended Spark 2012, and we anticipate that students’ interest in the event will continue to grow.

This year’s program will take place on October 24 from 9 AM-2 PM on the CMU campus. Please contact either Kevin Collins or Ray Mizgorski with any questions.

Event Details:

Date: October 24-25, 2013

Time: 10 am to 2 pm

Location: Rangos Ballroom

CMU spin-out, Lightside Labs, winner of Gates Foundation grant for Literacy Courseware Challenge

LighSide Labs

LighSide Labs

Education startup, LightSide Labs, just announced that the company has been awarded a $25,000 from the Gates Foundation to further develop their machine learning platforms that instantly assess student writing. Based in Shadyside, LightSide was founded by two language technology experts out of CMU who saw a unfilled niche in writing education. The local tech startup was one of only 29 companies to be chosen by the Gates Foundation to receive funding as part of the Literacy Courseware Challenge.

For more information on LightSide Labs and its technology, check out lightsidelabs.com.

Pennsylvania Considers New Tax Credit to Attract Game Production

The Pittsburgh Technology Council is endorsing a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to create a new Digital Entertainment Tax Credit as part of an expanded film tax credit.  Just as the film tax credit has proven its ability to attract film production to our state, this new credit would create a powerful incentive aimed attracting investment in permanent gaming development centers in Pennsylvania.

The opportunity associated with the nation’s entertainment technology industry is both large, and rapidly growing, with many states developing targeted strategies to attract the lucrative jobs that accompany the industry’s expansion.  Though more than 40 percent of the employment in this sector is focused on the West Coast, many states such as New York, Texas and Massachusetts have secured major gaming design centers that are contributing hundreds of millions of dollars towards their GDP. Louisiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are among a list of carefully watched states that possess the key ingredients for future success.

Pittsburgh, for example is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, which is an internationally recognized leader in the development of both talent and technology.

Pennsylvania’s existing strengths in this industry, combined with this new tool, will enable us to capture major investments and grow community-building jobs.

Please support Senate Bill 1035. Use this link to contact your legislators: