Pittsburgh has one of the world’s leading emerging startup ecosystems, where businesses are born of new ideas, talented innovators, and investments in their development, according to a new report.
California’s Silicon Valley is still by far the best ecosystem for startups, followed by London, New York City, Beijing and Boston. But Pittsburgh is one of those places with the potential and the dynamism to become a major hub for creating and nurturing innovative businesses, especially in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology.
Pittsburgh ranks 23rd in the top 100 such emerging startup ecosystems in the world, according to an analysis by Startup Genome, a consulting and research company for innovation policy.
Startup ecosystems “are the engines of growth in our economy,” said Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works, the largest startup capitalist in southwest Pennsylvania. “We sometimes forget that every large company starts out as an entrepreneur, risk taker, and innovator idea. As these companies grow, they create jobs, attract investment, keep key talent in the region and have a powerful impact on our economy. “
The report analyzes data on local startup performance and market reach, funding, talent, and other factors to evaluate startup ecosystems. Pittsburgh ranks in the top 30 for regional ecosystem funding, talent, and experience. The value of its ecosystem is estimated at $ 5.2 billion.
“It’s great that the region is recognized in the rankings, but as an investor who has worked here for almost 10 years, it’s no surprise,” said Ilana Diamond, managing partner of the 412 Venture Fund. “For a city our size, Pittsburgh has an oversized innovation ecosystem. The number of companies that bring innovations here is growing every year. “
Pittsburgh is particularly strong in cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, and those related to life sciences. Young companies like Aurora Innovation, Argo AI, Motional and Waymo “have put down roots to cement Pittsburgh as a global hub for self-driving technology,” the report said.
The report also highlights efforts in Pittsburgh to develop the innovation ecosystem with a view to expanding the technical talent pool to offer career opportunities to more women and minorities.
Pittsburgh’s research universities and corporations offer a broad, rich innovation base to draw from. Apollo Neuro, which developed a device to improve a person’s resistance to stress, began as a spin-out from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016 with funding from the University of Pitt’s Innovation Institute. “Pittsburgh definitely beats above its weight,” said Kathryn Fantauzzi, co-founder and CEO of the company.
“There are strong talents here from clinical research and basic sciences, engineering, software and hardware technology and computer science. When you have this talent in a small pool, it is easy to find your way around. Lots of people know each other well, they may have worked together in the past, which allows you to build a team quickly. I’m not from Pittsburgh, I’m from New York. I can tell you that Pittsburgh cares about Pittsburgh and that is important. People support each other a lot and help companies grow. “
“I think Pittsburgh is well positioned for growth,” said Lunak. “Personally, I think we are in a position to be one of the world’s leading hubs for technology and entrepreneurship.”