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

Pittsburgh Tech News Update: PLSG, Matrix Solutions, Direct Energy & CMU

This just in for breaking Pittsburgh Tech News:

Matrix Solutions Adds Features to Matrix Locker

Matrix Solutions, a provider of Media CRM and Sales Analytics software, announces the new features included in the next release of their industry leading solution. Matrix Locker™, a shared document storage module at an enterprise level, will be part of the product release enabling content to be stored within the system and attached to applicable records.  Additional features of the release that were designed to help drive operational sales efficiencies include shared accounts and enhanced reporting that is keyword search driven. The release will be fully deployed to current Matrix customers October 26, 2013.

Matrix Locker, our new document storage module, allows users to save e-mails as activities with attachments such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents. The Matrix Locker, where a user can download or upload files, is available within Account, Agency, Contact, Deal, and Activity locations. Matrix Locker users will have the option to create and manage personal folder hierarchies, customize file storage types and to send files via a unique generated URL to anyone within or outside of the Matrix system.


PLSG Closes $338K in Investments

On the heels of an updated vision and mission in the firm’s strategic focus at the end of the second quarter, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), the region’s only pure life sciences investment firm, and managing member of the PLSG Accelerator Fund, announced today the closing of $338,000 in new investments at the end of the third quarter.

“We have committed to working hard and staying focused on raising funds for both the PLSG and our portfolio companies,” said John Manzetti, President and CEO of PLSG. “The redefined business structure put a laser focus on later stage investments and we are pleased that it has helped to deliver more opportunities for our growing life sciences region, even during times of the uncertain economy.”

The most recent PLSG direct investment commitment includes $200,000 into Complexa, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on treating inflammatory and metabolic disorders with nitrated unsaturated fatty acids, and $138,000 into Cognition Therapeutics, Inc. a drug discovery company focused on neurodegenerative disorders that uses proprietary and biologically-relevant screening technology. PLSG has invested multiple times in both of these companies. PLSG has invested into Complexa a total of $550,000 and into Cognition for $1.1 million, which is PLSG’s largest investment to-date. In addition, the PLSG Accelerator Fund has also invested heavily into Cognition.

BJ’s Wholesale Club Powers Up with Direct Energy and SolarCity

Direct Energy, one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services companies, and SolarCity® (Nasdaq: SCTY), America’s no. 1 full-service solar power provider, announced  that they will provide solar electricity to a club location of BJ’S Wholesale Club, a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern United States. SolarCity will install solar panels at BJ’s North Brunswick, New Jersey location at little to no cost, and BJ’s will pay for the solar electricity produced at a discount to current energy rates.


NSF Grant Will Integrate Carnegie Mellon Robotic Kits Into Middle School Courses in Pennsylvania and West Virginia

An innovative program that introduces robotic technology into non-technical middle school classes will be used by suburban Pittsburgh and rural West Virginia schools in a federally funded research project to identify and nurture students with an affinity for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

All 7th and 8th grade students at Springdale Junior-Senior High School and all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the Mingo County (WV) Schools — a total of 900 children annually — will use robotic kits developed at Carnegie Mellon University. They will use the kits to complete at least one project or assignment each year in required courses such as health, earth science and language arts.

The three-year Creative Robotics project, supported by a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant, seeks to increase the number and diversity of students in the STEM education pipeline.

Pittsburgh Tech News Round Up

So much news, so little time. Sink your choppers into these Pittsburgh Tech News Nuggets.


 Get Your Game On

Ever dream of becoming the next big game designer? Schell Games’ Game Sprout can help.

Schell Games is getting ready to unveil a website designed to demystify the world of game design and provide the creative and technical resources to make your game dreams come true! Members of the community will provide feedback, suggest next steps, and vote on the best ideas. The most popular ideas are then reviewed by a team of developers at Schell Games, and will be developed, funded, and launched through a transparent, iterative game design process.

Touchy Situation

With Wave of the Hand, Carnegie Mellon Researchers Create Touch-based Interfaces on Everyday Surfaces

Researchers previously have shown that a depth camera system, such as Kinect, can be combined with a projector to turn almost any surface into a touchscreen. But now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated how these touch-based interfaces can be created almost at will, with the wave of a hand. CMU’s WorldKit system enables someone to rub the arm of a sofa to “paint” a remote control for her TV or swipe a hand across an office door to post his calendar from which subsequent users can “pull down” an extended version. These ad hoc interfaces can be moved, modified or deleted with similar gestures, making them highly personalized.

Picking Up a New Customer

Matrix Solutions, the leading provider of media CRM and Sales Analytics Software, announced today that Adelante Media Group has implemented their Matrix software solution. Adelante Media Group is one of America’s fastest growing radio and television companies serving the country’s biggest growth segment according to the 2011 Census, Hispanics. They currently have a total of 22 stations across 9 markets.

 Wombat Keeps on Growing

Wombat Security Technologies, a provider of cyber security awareness and training solutions, announced key Company updates including industry-first products, the addition of marquis companies to its growing list of world class customers, and the appointment of customer service veteran Molly Bissell to its executive team. Wombat continues to extend its leadership position in the anti-phishing education and security awareness and training market, one of the fastest growing information security market segments. Wombat is driving the market forward by delivering innovative products that help businesses educate employees how to avoid growing cyber security threats and ultimately strengthen their company’s security posture.

Caught on Film

Watch the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Audrey Russo Interview IBM/Vivisimo’s Jerome Pesenti at Speak Freely


CMU Launches Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Dave Mawhinney and Lenore Blum.

Carnegie Mellon University is bolstering its leadership in turning university research and ideas into commercial enterprises by establishing the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), which merges the strengths of Project Olympus and the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship.

The new CIE will be led jointly by Lenore Blum, founding director of Project Olympus and professor of computer science, and Dave Mawhinney, executive director of the Don Jones Center and assistant teaching professor of entrepreneurship. The CIE has three goals: 1) defining CMU as the “destination of choice” for individuals interested in entrepreneurship; 2) fostering an “inside-out” approach of creating winning commercial ventures from cutting-edge research; and 3) developing an extensive, vibrant network of alumni entrepreneurs.

“The Don Jones Center and Project Olympus have been tremendously successful in helping students and faculty take the crucial first steps in transforming research findings into products and services that people want to buy,” said Mark S. Kamlet, CMU provost and executive vice president and head of the new center’s governing body. “We are excited that the partnership between technology and business as embodied by the new center will create the same synergies we see when our faculty members reach across disciplines — and propel our university, and region, into the entrepreneurial forefront.”

With financial support from the McCune Foundation’s Big Idea program, the CIE will continue the successful programs of the Don Jones Center and Project Olympus, including seasonal Show & Tell events that connect campus researchers with local and national investors, the Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, incubator space for fledgling companies, entrepreneurship workshops and business competitions, such as the McGinnis Venture Competition.

New this year is Launch CMU, events that will bring top-tier venture capitalists together with the university’s most promising researchers and entrepreneurs twice a year. Launch CMU events will alternate between the Pittsburgh campus and Silicon Valley, with the first scheduled for May 21 at Intel Corp. headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We also will be establishing an Alumni Entrepreneurial Network, tapping our many alumni who have started or who are leading successful startups,” Mawhinney said. “Our alumni can provide priceless guidance to the next generation of entrepreneurs and we will be nurturing those connections in every way we can.”

Other new initiatives include undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships designed to foster entrepreneurial efforts.

“We want Carnegie Mellon to be the destination of choice for students and faculty who are interested in entrepreneurship,” Blum said. “The knowledge and skills necessary to start a business don’t come naturally, regardless of how gifted a person might be in their chosen discipline. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides the missing pieces, benefiting not only our faculty and students, but the entire region.”

The CIE is part of Carnegie Mellon’s Greenlighting Startups initiative, which employs the university’s “inside-out” approach to speed advances from the lab to the marketplace. More than 300 businesses have been launched from Carnegie Mellon in the last 15 years, thanks in part to its innovative tech-transfer process that ensures no university interference with startup operations.

The Tepper School of Business, home to the Don Jones Center, was one of the first business schools to offer formal entrepreneurship training. The Don Jones Center has a long history of bringing students, faculty and practitioners together with groundbreaking research from across campus. Since its founding in the School of Computer Science six years ago, Project Olympus has provided help to more than 100 student and faculty teams across campus that sought to turn research and great ideas into commercial services and products. To date, 70 of those efforts — 54 initiated by students and 16 by faculty — have spawned companies.

As with its partner programs, CIE is an engine for accelerating innovation and job creation. The CIE builds upon the university’s impressive record of turning campus innovations into new businesses by supporting award-winning professors and world-class students in transforming their research into thriving commercial enterprises.

CMU Names Dr. Subra Suresh as Its New President

Dr. Subra Suresh

Dr. Subra Suresh

Carnegie Mellon University has selected Dr. Subra Suresh as its new president, succeeding Dr. Jared L. Cohon, who will step down June 30, 2013.

Suresh will assume office on July 1. “I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead Carnegie Mellon University as its ninth president,” Suresh said.

“The extraordinary ability of the CMU faculty and students in bringing together cutting-edge research and education across multiple disciplines positions CMU uniquely to address national and global challenges. I look forward to working with the CMU community to further our global impact,” Suresh said in a released statement.

Suresh is the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $7-billion independent government science agency charged with advancing all fields of fundamental science, engineering research and education. Dr. Suresh was nominated for the NSF in 2010 by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Previously,  Suresh served as the dean of the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is currently on leave as the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at MIT while serving as director of NSF. Get more details here.