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The 2013 Data Award winners included a few surprises and a surreal atmosphere

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 5th Annual Design, Art and Technology (DATA) Awards celebrated, as it does each year, the intersection of art and technology design with a lineup of the region’s most creative startups.
 
This year's event gave off a surreal glow, although maybe it was the fog machine and the light filtering through the stained glass windows into The Priory’s Grand Hall on the Northside.
 
“It’s a great event for showcasing innovations with an art twist and sharing it with a wider audience,” said Paul Fireman of Fireman Creative whose firm took away a DATA in the Media Arts category.

“There were a lot of companies this year that I hadn’t heard of and that's a good thing because it means the group of participating companies is growing.” 
 
New this year was an interactive element that allowed the public to vote and determine the winners, along with a jury of experts.
 
The public voting was an important piece, said Audrey Russo, president of PTC, giving the artistic and creative communities a voice in the process.
 
“We are continually pleased with the breadth and number of individuals, and organizations, that actively participated,” said Russo. "I believe this space serves as the preamble to an imminent, seismic change in skill development and education.  Plus, we always have a ton of fun supporting those who build and execute big ideas.” 

The 2013 winners were:
 
i-CON: Apps & Information Architecture Award – Highmark + United Concordia: Chomper Chums

Next Generation: Kids & Creative Technology Award – The Center for Creativity: TransformED

Maker: Design & Art Award – Teletrix: Radiation Training Simulators

Media Arts: Interactive + Multimedia Award – Fireman Creative: Ricky’s Dream Trip
 
Joystick: Gaming Award – Schell Games + Yale University: PlayForward

Student Award – Carnegie Mellon University: Floria

People’s Choice Award – WQED Multimedia + SLB Radio Productions: iQ Kids Radio

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PTC

Looking good Pittsburgh. PittsburghTODAY report highlights the state of the region

PittsburghTODAY released its 2013 Today & Tomorrow report and the news across many sectors is enlightening.
 
With the economic recovery still underway in much of the country, Pittsburgh is the only benchmark region out of 15 that has experienced job growth and housing price appreciation. In addition, the labor force is at an all-time high and young people are returning and staying in the region.
 
Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the most affordable places for moderate-income families to live. A Brookings Institution study says so too, listing Pittsburgh as one of three cities in the U.S. to have recovered from the deep recession that began in 2007.
 
The region, however, has work to do in several areas, including transportation, the environment and issues pertaining to diversity, particularly in helping African Americans in the region to achieve the same quality of life as whites.
 
Among the highlights:
 
Population: It has been official but bares repeating: the region is attaining and attracting young talent. The region’s population of 20- to 34- year-olds grew by 7% over the last five years and is expected to grow another 8% in 2020. Three decades earlier the region was losing more than 50,000 people than it was attracting, mostly young adults.
 
Jobs: Jobs grew by a non-seasonably adjusted 1.7 percent in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from November 2007 to November 2012. Certainly not robust, but it was better than any of the Pittsburgh TODAY benchmark regions. Pittsburgh was the only region to post job growth over that period.
 
Tourism: Visitors to Southwestern Pennsylvania pumped $8.1 billion into the local economy in lodging, recreation, retail, food and beverage, transportation and other spending during 2011,the latest year the full data was reported. This is a 9.6% increase over 2010.

Housing: Pittsburgh was the only region in which the 5-year housing prices rose from 2007-2012.
 
Environment: While fine particle pollution is slowly decreasing, and met federal air quality standards for the first time in 2011 since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, smog and sewage spills and the health of our rivers remains an issue.
 
Fracking: Across the region, a survey shows that far more residents are convinced of the economic potential of the Marcellus Shale gas industry than are against drilling for it. More than 70% of those surveyed believe that gas drilling is boosting the local economy.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PittsburghTODAY

Dormont puzzlemaker takes on Sudoko with his own Kansuko

Some people come home from work and kick back. Not Jon Meck, a professional puzzle creator by night.
 
The Dormont resident and Pitt grad has been known to pull all-nighters when it comes to his puzzle designs. The work paid off with the publishing of his first book last October, "Kansuko: A New Game Based on Classic Sudoku." A second book is in progress.
 
Meck has taken the popular numbers game Soduko and turned it on its head. While his game has raised the ire of a few Sudoku purists, most people say they enjoy a different challenge, he says. He came up with the idea while “messing around” with a Soduku puzzle late one night.
 
The secret to the design is in the inner workings of Excel. “I’m something of an Excel guru,” he says. “People would be surprised if they knew what Excel could do.”
 
Unlike Soduko, Kansuko involves addition and double digits. The game is comprised of 3x3 grids stacked on top of each other. Players fill in the empty squares so that each column and grid only contain the numbers 1-9 once. The twist is the far right column is the sum of the numbers in that row, but only the ones place digit is recorded; the numbers 1-9 only appear once in this column as well.
 
For example, if you had a row with the numbers 8 + 5 + 2, that adds up to 15 so you would enter a 5. Try it. Meck created a special puzzle just for Pop City. (It's intermediate level for our sharp readers. Look closely and you'll see Pop City.)
 
His first book contains 100 puzzles and is on sale at Barnes and Noble and through Amazon.com. It’s doing well, he says, although he doesn’t expect to be retiring from his job with Community Care Behavioral Health Organization of UPMC anytime soon. His dream is to achieve syndication--and get it out in app form. Several newspapers are running it so far, including the Harvard Crimson.
 
“My puzzles are a little quicker puzzle to solve and a little smaller,” he explains. “You can do it in a quick burst and finish one or try a harder one and devote 10-15 minutes. The vertical layout makes it more ideally suited for playing on a (mobile) phone or publishing it in a book. The shape works well.”
 
Meck recently discovered that his game may also be played using a deck of cards. So perhaps a board game is in the future?
 
“It’s been a really fun project for me,” he says. “I’m ecstatic that people are coming to the website and playing the puzzles, going to Barnes and Noble and buying the book. Getting rich would be a nice bonus, but I’ll keep my day job.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Souce: Jon Meck

Expanding+Hiring: Industry Weapon, GatesmanMarmion+Dave and kWantera

Three Pittsburgh companies have recently announced expansions and hiring: GatesmanMarmion+Dave, Industry Weapon and Mobile Fusion.
 
GatesmanMarmion+Dave is moving from the old South Side Works post office, its home for the past five years, to a new space in the former MAYA offices in South Side Works. The location gives the company 8,500 square feet, double the size of the currently cramped quarters, in anticipation of growth. Three new hires will join the staff of 35, says John Gatesman, partner and president.

The growth has been organic, primarily from clients referring other clients, Gatesman says. The expansion will give the company room to "ideate and collaborate" while focusing on the growing number of clients.
 
"We have equal employees in every discipline, whether PR, digital and media," says Shannon Baker, partner and director of public relations and social media. "We wanted a space that would allow for that collaboration without rigid walls that might divide the disciplines." 

The MAYA companies will relocate to Downtown Pittsburgh, the 16th floor of the Gateway Center Complex, giving the firm more than 19,000 square-feet for growth. The family of companies includes MAYA Design, LUMA Institute, Rhiza Labs and a fourth company, Interstacks.
 
In other expansion news, Industry Weapon is leaving Dormont for a larger space at 900 Parish Street in Green Tree. The move give IW  double the amount of office space, 6700 square-feet. 
 
“We were bursting at the seams in our Dormont location,” says Industry Weapon COO, Craig Hanna. “Our foremost initiative for 2012 was to better service our business partners and customers, which required larger office space.”
 
The company is also expanding its investment and support in digital media education and training, testament to the firm's growing global customer base. 
 
Mobile Fusion recently changed its name to kWantera and has moved from Sarah Street on the South Side to the Cigar Factory on Smallman Street in the Strip District. The 5,000-square-foot space will make room for growth. The company is currently at eight and plans to hire four more in sales, account services and technical development.
 
The new name is a reflection of the firm's energy focus, kW, as in kilowatt says CEO Mark DeSantis, 
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: John Gatesman, Shannon Baker, Craig Hanna and Mark DeSantis

Image courtesy of GatesmanMarmion+Dave
 

An app for those nasty potholes; Deeplocal sells transit app RouteShout

Just in time for the spring thaw comes a new weapon against  Pittsburgh potholes, a smartphone app that tracks their location and subtly takes the city to task for leaving them unattended over time.

Carnegie Mellon University's RODAS Project--that's Road Damage Assessment System--gives GPS-linked smartphone users the tools to snap pictures of potholes and upload them on Facebook. The photos are then automatically tagged on an online map, marked by bright red dots, creating a virtual overview of potholes to alert officials (and drivers) where the potholes are.

The project, started last summer, was the original idea of Chilean Heinz grad Veronica Acha-Alvarez and inspired by a similar successful project in Chile. The Chilean app offers contests, (subtly timed with local elections) to identify the largest potholes.

"We are creating a secure, independent source of information about potholes that can be used to alert government agencies and to monitor their response," says Robert Strauss, professor of economics and public policy in the H. John Heinz III College.

Widespread publicity this week drove more than 800 hits to the site in one day, he adds.

Involving the community in identifying and monitoring the pothole problem is the primary goal of the project. The team also is considering other ways citizens may assist, including an adopt-a-pothole program that gets the community more involved with repairs.

"Kind of like a  pet rock," says Stauss.

"PennDOT found it interesting," he adds. "This new public database is a new tool people can use to monitor what road crews are doing and to judge the efficiency of government."

In other app news, Deeplocal's award-winning transit technology, RouteShout, was acquired by Atlanta-based RouteMatch Software Inc., developers of traveler information systems. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RouteShout, which marks the first sale of a Deeplocal asset, allows riders to access up-to-the-second transit arrival times from their mobile phones. It will provide the "missing link" of real-time arrival data needed for intelligent transit systems, says Tim Quinn of RouteMatch.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Robert Strauss, CMU; Deeplocal



Sprout Fund supports 20 new biodiversity projects with $190,000; PLSG on the move

Good news for the region's biodiversity and life sciences industry.

PLSG received $500,000 in funding that will help to establish a life sciences campus on the South Side at the River Park Commons Business Center.

The funding comes from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from the state. The new campus will provide space for four to six wet-labs in addition to the existing 9,000 square feet of life sciences labs. PLSG will also move its office to the campus.

"The demand for this campus is significant as an increasing number of new biotechnology companies are being launched throughout the nation, and geographic clusters to house these new, start-up companies are highly competitive," said John W. Manzetti, President and CEO.

In other news, 20 biodiversity projects received $190,000 this week as part of a new initiative to support the stewardship of Southwestern Pennsylvania's natural resources.

The Sprout Fund and The Pittsburgh Foundation hope to jumpstart community-based biodiversity projects in the region through the Spring Program. The funded projects were selected from among 75 applications, says Dustin Stiver of The Sprout Fund.

"These projects offer an exciting array of innovative solutions to the many environmental challenges we face," says Stiver. "With diverse objectives and creative approaches, they give promise that the biodiversity of our resource-rich region can be preserved and enhanced for generations to come."

Six biodiversity projects received $20,000 awards including:

BioShelter and Food Systems Center at the Garfield Community Farm, where a permanent bioshelter will extend the farm's growing season and offer educational opportunities to the nearby elementary school;

Green Roofs for Bus Shelters in East Liberty, introducing flora and fauna into the urban environment through a living green roof on Penn Avenue;

Heritage Seed Bank and Nursery for seed banks and educational opportunities in the preservation of native heritage or heirloom edible plants;

Native Appalachian Garden, part of Pittsburgh Botanical Garden, cultivating woodland species of the region;

And Take a Hike: Backyard Biodiversity for a traveling presentation that will lead elementary school children on an exploration of the Earth's biomes at the Carnegie Science Center.

The other 14 recipients receiving $5,000 awards are include outdoor classrooms for children, ecological gardens, artificial chimney habitats for neotropical migrant birds, rain gardens in schoolyards with the help of Nine Mile Run Watershed Assoc. and native plant restoration projects.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PLSG, Dustin Stiver, The Sprout Fund


From beer gadgets to radical posters, shop Pittsburgh online

Shopping local this year? Take it to the next level and fire up your web browser for some Pittsburgh online shopping.

Pittsburgh artists, entrepreneurs and boutiques are among those joining the online frenzy, offering everything from beer gadgets to children's vintage books, fashion, political posters and, yes, a different Pittsburgh towel.

Pittsburgh native Albert Ciuksza was on a camping trip with three buddies, struggling with an unwieldy keg, when the guys hit on the idea for a website for great beer gadgets. Portabeer.com only has several items for sale but all are unique and work great, says Cuiksza.

"We enjoy beer but we're frustrated by the glorified frat boy mentality," says Cuiksza. "People will buy a $500 wine opener. This will elevate how beer is presented." In addition to openers, a picnic tap and six-pack carrier, Portabeer is in stealth mode on a portable keg mover. Pittsburgh startup Levlr has also created a fun mobile beer app, Beerby, that tracks your favorite beers and bars.

Jamie Grassman is the owner of Beyond Bedtime Books, a gem of a shop in Dormont that sells-hard-to find  vintage children's stories through eBay. The holidays are a particularly busy season for her when childhood memories inspire families to enlist her help in tracking down children's titles. If you're in the nabe this Saturday, PG columnist Brian O'Neill will be in the shop for a book signing.

South Side clothing store Jupe Boutique is launching a new website sometime this week says co-owner Cara Moody. The website was designed by Wall-to-Wall's Bill Krowinski, And let us not overlook Pittsburgh-based, eco-friendly designer Kelly Lane who is available online through ModCloth as well as Pavement and The Picket Fence.

If you haven't visited JustSeeds.com already, you've been missing out on a great network of artists committed to creating prints and designs with a radical, environmental and political perspective. Founded in 1998, the project relocated its distribution center from Portland to Pittsburgh this year where it runs the expanded operation.

And here's one that has been flying under the radar: the Turbie Twist, a super absorbent towel made just for hair. The Butler company, founded by two entrepreneurial Pittsburgh sisters, has been snapping  towels out since 2005. The company was also listed on the INC 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in America.

Got ideas for more Pittsburgh online shopping? Tweet them to us at @PopCityPgh.

Writer: Deb Smit
Many Sources



Pittsburgh aspires to be the most tech-savvy city in the country

The e-democracy race is on and if Councilman Bill Peduto has his way, Pittsburgh will blow the door of city government wide open and leave cities like Boston in the dust.

Peduto invited several Pittsburgh-based tech companies to City Hall this month to discuss using a mix of homegrown technologies to promote a unique blend of tools that would help constituents to better track goings on.

Among those who came to the table were online social political network MyGov365, searchable video data company Panopto Inc, web-based broadcaster Vivo and the Carnegie Mellon developer of YinzCam technology, which allows mobile phone users to watch replays of Penguins action inside the arena.

This is just the beginning, says Peduto. The discussion won’t be limited to these companies.

“Pittsburgh can be a model of e-democracy for the world. We want Pittsburgh (government) to not only be on the forefront, but to offer leverage to our own Pittsburgh-based companies to use the city as a test market to sell their products worldwide.”

Pittsburgh has $52,000 to webcast council meetings, which should be enough to cover the webcast and more, Peduto says. The city plans to award a contract to begin providing webcasts and searchable video by the end of this month.

Other proposed initiatives include an iPhone application for city government, a searchable database of all council votes and records offered by MyGov365 and offering online access to community meetings.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Councilman Bill Peduto, City of Pittsburgh

Image courtesy Councilman Bill Peduto

Getting ready for the G-20 Summit--weigh in now!

When leaders of the world’s most important emerging-market countries come to Pittsburgh this fall, what will they need, see and experience?

Suggestions poured in this past week during three public brainstorming sessions. Not able to attend?  Share your ideas and sign up for potential volunteer opportunities at the Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership Web site by clicking here.

“We’ve gotten some really great ideas, things we hadn’t thought of,” reports Kevin Evanto of Allegheny County. “Many say they want the city to gleam, a display of flags of all the nations, to welcome people in their native language.”

One gentleman suggested inviting illusionists to walk the streets because no one needs a translator to understand the language of magic.

Other thoughts? Pittsburgh must live up to its green image with sustainable opportunities and recycling offered everywhere, at hotels, on the streets, in parks. Stage a special light-up or festival of lights, get the ethnic communities involved, improve signage and enlist university and high school students to volunteer.

“We’re still waiting to hear from the White House on many issues, but we want to be as prepared as possible so when we get direction, we can act,” Evanto adds. “We want to be in a position to respond to the White House right away.”

The county plans to create an online media center so when 3,000 reporters descend, they will find a Web site filled with story ideas and local opportunities.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Kevin Evanto, Allegheny County

Marcellus Shale: drillers move in, environmentalists rally for tax and habitat relief

The largest gas deposit in North America, a reservoir lodged in rock 6,000 feet under the ground, is luring big gas drillers from around the world to our region.

It’s also causing concern among environmental groups across the state.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas recently opened a regional office in Pittsburgh to better position the company for Marcellus Shale business, a deposit that spans four states and may contain 50 trillion cubic feet in natural gas estimated at $1 trillion. 

Pittsburgh is the firm's new North Region office; the company’s offices in Charleston, W.Va. and Denver, Colo. will close by the end of the summer and more than half of the impacted staff will move to Pittsburgh, according to the company.

Environmental concerns about the drilling have prompted local groups to rally for a state severance tax on the drillers, money they believe should go to restore and preserve local habitats and urban streams, such as the restored Nine Mile Run Watershed in the East End.

In addition to the tax, PennFuture and others want to place a portion of the funds in the state's Environmental Stewardship Fund, which would reinvest in parks, habitats, waterways and open spaces.

The Marcellus Shale gas deposit runs from upstate New York, across most of Pennsylvania and into West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Most states charge drillers a small tax in exchange for extraction rights.  Pennsylvania should do the same, say tax supporters.

If approved, the tax could generate more than $100 million next year and $600 million by 2013, says Joylette Portlock, Western Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture.

PA Republican senate leaders are against the tax. Now is the time to contact legislators before the drilling is well established, Portlock told an assembled group at East Liberty Presbyterian Church last week.

“There are tremendous environmental impacts of drilling on the local economy,” added Hannah Hardy of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “This is the best way to ensure that there will be benefits to our community.”

To join PennFuture in support of the severance tax, click here.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Joylette Portlock, PennFuture

Image courtesy flickr.com



Internships galore, find them and get 'em here

Looking for that perfect intern or internship? The Regional Internship Center of Southwestern Pennsylvania is an indispensable resource.

RIC is an online, local clearinghouse for internships in the region, connecting talented and eager college students with businesses, explains Regina Anderson, director of RIC.

This month the center launched a new streamlined Web site with a complete listing of available jobs-in-training, including resume help and networking suggestions. The site serves as a one-click location where students can connect with opportunities and businesses can recruit talent.

RIC also plans to expand its reach in the next several months to include other parts of the state.

“We’re very unique in terms of the kind of support we provide,” she says. “We directly address the brain drain by helping to attract and retain talent in the region.”

It’s not too late to find work for the summer, notes Anderson. While RIC currently lists internships for the fall, openings are posted on a year-round basis.

More than 400 students participate in the RIC summer program each year. In today’s job market, a student can’t have too many internships, she adds. Those who take advantage of multiple opportunities have an advantage over student job-seekers who’ve only done one internship during their college career.

The cost to participate is $50, but many companies agree to cover the fee.
The RIC is supported by 70 educational institutions in the region and is a program of Coro Pittsburgh. The program is sponsored by the Alcoa and Benedum foundations as well as The Heinz Endowments.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Regina Anderson, RIC


Image courtesy Coro Pittsburgh



Fill ‘er up—Howard Hanna jumps on board the Delta non-stop to Paris

The Howard Hanna Company has stepped up support for the non-stop Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Paris with the purchase of more than 100 reservations for company employees.

For the past 20 years, the real estate Hannas and Hanna Travel have rewarded their sales agents with incentives, three levels of trips they can earn based on their annual production. Top sellers will receive a trip to Paris aboard the Delta non-stop, five nights and six days during March of 2010.

“I feel it is imperative we all support our new service from Delta to make sure we retain a valuable airport here to encourage local businesses to grow within the region,” says Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.  “We want to make it easy for people from everywhere to be able to get here easily!”

The Allegheny Conference has pledged more than $4 million to Delta through the year 2012 in support of the direct flight, should revenue fall short.

“Nonstop air service sends a clear message to the world: The Pittsburgh region is open for bilateral business and foreign direct investment,” says Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

“Regional businesses can now efficiently connect with their global clients, and it’s equally efficient for those abroad looking to do business or invest here to connect with us. Using the service is the only way to ensure that our region doesn’t lose a critical business advantage.”

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Helen Casey Hanna, Howard Hanna; Dennis Yablonsky, Allegheny Conference

Image courtesy flickr.com

Call us Green County, Car Free Fridays and other sustainable news

Allegheny County will use $8.1 million in federal stimulus funding to conduct energy audits of county municipal buildings and offer energy-saving upgrades to County-owned municipal facilities.

Duquesne Light will partner with the county on the audits, which will include a review of lighting systems, heating and air conditioning, computer systems and the overall thermal envelope. About $2 million will be spent on the upgrades; eligibility will be based on the percentage of low and moderate income population in each municipality.

Another $5.8 million will be spent on conservation projects at the Courthouse, County Office Building, Jail, Shuman Center and Kane Regional Centers. The reduced energy consumption should save taxpayers an estimated $500,000 annually, the county says.

Allegheny County has also hired Jeaneen Zappa as the region’s first sustainability manager. Zappa will work with County departments and the Green Action Team to identify ways to improve the region’s ecological footprint.

The greening of the county “will result in significant energy conservation projects in local government facilities throughout Allegheny County, which will translate into savings for taxpayers and jobs for local workers,” says County Executive Dan Onorato.

In other green news, BikePGH hopes to clean the local air this summer by expanding its Bike to Work Day to an every week event. Car Free Fridays will start on June 12, a city-wide initiative to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home once a week and walk, bike or take public transportation. The event is sponsored by Port Authority and Mullen.

And Pittsburgh’s first green concert series is back, bigger and better than ever. The free, outdoor Solar Concert Series will feature 13 shows powered by a solar-energy sound system. For concert information, click here.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Dan Onorato, Kevin Lane, Allegheny County; Bike Pittsburgh


Get your game on with deeplocal’s Pickupalooza

On blue summer days when there seems to be no one around to play, Pickupalooza.com is your friend.

Deeplocal has developed a new Web site that matches people and sports and locations around Pittsburgh. Simply go online, pick a game—tennis, soccer, basketball, whatever— that matches your interest, schedule or location and teammates materialize instantly.

Better yet, organize your own game.

“It’s about getting out there, meeting new people in the city and having fun,” explains Heather Estes, director of product evolution. “It’s often hard to meet people with the same interest through the bar and club scene. Everyone wants to play tennis, go for a bike ride or play a sports game. Pickupalooza is a perfect solution.”

The site is generating lots of playing interest, says Estes, who played soccer with 16 Pickupaloozas at Schenley Park on a recent weekend. Friends can send the participation link to friends and post it on Facebook or Twitter. If clouds roll in, players receive alerts on game changes and cancellations.

The most popular games are flag football, soccer and tennis so far, but a move is underway to add board games, tai chi, even Ultimate Frisbee. Players don’t need to register, but those who do create a profile with a game history, upcoming games and neighborhoods where you played.

“We want to connect with different organizations in the city, like sports leagues and city parks, and pass the word around,” says Estes. “We want everyone to know we exist.”

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Heather Estes, deeplocal

Image courtesy Deep Local

Pittsburgh’s Technology Collaborative funds nine companies $1.5 M

The Technology Collaborative, the Pittsburgh-based economic development organization that supports the growth of world-class robotics, cyber-security and digital technology, has awarded $1.5 million to nine companies and one Carnegie Mellon University project.

Eight are Pittsburgh-based and two are Philadelphia-based companies. All the projects are underway and will be completed by 2010.

“We received a record number of proposals which is indicative of the funding challenges faced by early stage companies across the country,” says David Ruppersberger, president and CEO of TTC. “The good news is that this particular group of awardees looks very promising in terms of their potential commercial success and economic impact on the region.”

The funded local companies include:

Acutronic USA and Virtus Advanced Sensors who submitted a join proposal to test and develop technology for the next generation MEMS intertial sensors based on Virtus’ proprietary technology. (For the Pop City story, click here.)

Bossa Nova Concepts, Oakland-based designers of robotic toys and games for young children, to further develop and test robots that complement characters in a virtual world.

Gradient Labs, pioneers of an approach called Spatial Computing and developers of a suite of products for several industries. A new Facebook application will offer enhanced media management, viewing and sharing to Facebook users.

HyperActive Technologies Inc., provider of restaurant automation solutions that detect and track vehicles arriving to the site, to develop a project to create and test a new platform.

Interbots LLC, developers of emotionally expressive robotic toys for children, to develop new product software.

MobileFusion will further develop its SmartFusion platform, a defense tool that locates people, cars and chemical plumes, allowing users to make real-time decisions.

Silicon Vox Corp., a Carnegie Mellon startup, to help bring high-speed speech recognition technology to market.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: David Ruppersberger, TTC

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