Pittsburgh: A hub for innovation

Pittsburgh: A hub for innovation

2021-09-21T14:55:49+00:00September 21st, 2021|Economy, Pittsburgh, Technology|

Writer: Joey Garrand 

2 min read September 2021 — Pittsburgh has become a globally recognized hub on the cutting edge of innovation and technologies of the future. Mark Thomas, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, shared with Invest: why Pittsburgh is poised for continued growth as a national economic powerhouse.


What differentiates the Pittsburgh market?

Mark ThomasMark Thomas: We view the region as the gateway to innovation. Our institutions, whether those are the universities or research organizations, are developing the future. We’re on the cutting edge, from artificial intelligence to additive manufacturing and everything in between; we’re a truly burgeoning hub for innovative technology.

With regard to quality of life, we have a vibrant, dynamic community with great livable assets, price points that are accessible, culture and history. As a newer Pittsburgher myself, I’ve been very pleased with my experience. 

Audrey Russo: Compared to Philadelphia, we are more diversified. We enjoy a diversity of industries that have helped to drive steady, stable growth. We’re not reliant on any one industry. Everyone hears about our robotics but there are so many different pockets here. We have an emerging world of fintech with PNC, BNY and Federated Investors that’s really starting to come into its own. We have companies focused on autonomous vehicles. We also have growth around artificial intelligence and natural language processing. And then we have a lot of people who are still building and making things physically. Soon, we’ll see more from the life sciences industry. 

What industries are poised for growth?

Thomas: We are poised for growth in a variety of industries, everything from robotics to climate technologies to advanced manufacturing and life sciences. We’ve positioned the region strategically to create an ecosystem that is advantageous to these industries. We’ve tailored our assets and opportunities to meet the expansion, funding, customer and, ultimately, success needs of these industries – and other strategic industries – and their respective companies. Specifically over the last two years, we’ve seen an uptick in developers and incubators in the region.

Russo: We have not had an IPO for a technology company in more than a decade. In 2021, we’ll have had four. There is a significant amount of investment that has gone to early-stage companies. We’re at a very nice inflection of the slope going upward but you’ll never see the slope as steep as a hockey stick. That’s the beauty of Pittsburgh; we are a very stable and diversified, steadily growing economy. With this growth, today, the unemployment rate for individuals in tech-related jobs is below 2%.

How would you describe the strength of the local workforce to meet anticipated growth?

Thomas: We have 88 regional colleges, universities and post-secondary institutions.  This includes two, Tier I research universities in Pitt and Carnegie Mellon. We are graduating about 40,000 students from these institutions annually, including bright minds from around the world who come to Pittsburgh for their education. So, for companies that are looking for educated, high-quality graduates, we’re a market with a surplus available to them.

We also have a strong manufacturing legacy here in Pittsburgh. Many employers admire the talent we offer for some of the most advanced production needs on Earth. These additional pools of labor separate us from other markets with just general office and industrial labor pools.

How would you describe the strength of local higher education institutions?

Russo: We have amazing universities. The University of Pittsburgh is one of the top in the country when it comes to federal funding, such as through the NIH. Carnegie Mellon is also very strong, moving into Ivy League territory with their software engineering and engineering programs being comparable to MIT and Stanford. This attracts a lot of amazing people as well as the dollars for research. We also hold our own with niche colleges, such as Chatham University, Robert Morris University and Duquesne University to name a few.

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