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Idea Foundry launches new accelerator to promote water innovation in Pittsburgh

Idea Foundry has created a new accelerator program for companies working in the water innovation space.
 
Innovate H2O, launched in collaboration with the Water Economy Network, hopes to inspire corporations and startups to develop breakthrough water solutions that address water issues in the region and create jobs, says Albert Ciuksza, manager of water initiatives for Idea Foundry.
 
Five areas of water innovation have been identified as key to the region’s economic growth and sound environmental management: energy production, manufacturing, drinking water production, storm andsewer management and green infrastructure,  navigation and monitoring.
 
“Everyone knows how important water is,” says Ciuksza. “We want to have our hands on what this industry is doing. Ultimately, it will help businesses identify the next steps for growth in the region.”
 
The program will strive to bring entrepreneurs, individuals and organizations together with leaders in the water industry in the development of market research, testing, product development and more, Ciuksza says.
 
WEN member organizations include: Aquatech, Bayer Materials, Calgon Carbon, CMU, Consol Energy, LANXESS, Port of Pittsburgh, Sustainable Pittsburgh, URS Corp. and Veolia.
 
Successful applicants will be eligible for up to $10,000 in financial support. Applications are being accepted now through March 14, 2014. For more information, check the Idea Foundry website.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Albert Ciuksza, Idea Foundry

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? A few life sciences companies, PNC, Safaba and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company hiring news.
 
BlueBelt Technologies, a Pittsburgh developer of robotic surgical tools, is planning for major growth in 2014. The company has announced hiring for 25 new positions this year. The company is currently looking for a software development research engineer and program manager.   
 
PNC Investments has openings for six people in Pittsburgh. Positions range from investment services associates to consultants and financial advisors.
 
Neuro-Kinetics, Inc. a small but fast-growing medical device company, is seeking software and mechanical engineers. 
 
Safaba in Squirrel Hill, on the forefront of language translation technology, is on the lookout for a research scientist and software engineers.
 
Pittsburgh online ticketing company ShowClix is hiring an account manager and software engineer. There are several internships available as well in account services, software engineering, sales and marketing.
 
University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt Magazine is hiring a medical editor and writer. A master’s degree is required.
 
The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural history is hiring a director of visitor services, a highly enthusiastic person able to manage, develop and support the visitor experience.
 
The MEMS Industry Group is hiring a marketing and web associate who can creatively design and execute web marketing and advertising campaigns. The MEMS group is the trade association to promote the micro electrical mechanical systems industry.
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the career links.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Pittsburgh marketing news roundup--acquisitions, mergers and expansions

And now the news on Pittsburgh marketing companies. First up, Campos Inc.
 
A.J. Drexler, former president and lead strategist at Big Picture Communications, has assumed ownership and management of Campos Inc., a firm founded and run by Yvonne Campos for more than 28 years.
 
The Campos name will remain. Drexler, a champion of well-executed market research, says Campos will continue to move in the direction of marketing strategy, research and data analytics. In addition, Drexler acquired Direct Feedback, a former competitor with offices in Station Square, and has integrated the firm into Campos. Direct Feedback specialized in qualitative research and focus group work.
 
Since the acquisition, Campos has hired four people, three from Direct Feedback and a new marketing strategist. Drexler’s message to the rest of the agency community? Campos is not in the business to compete with other agencies.
 
“We will do the strategy work up to a creative brief, but will go no further,” she says. “We are all about marketing planning and strategy all the time.
 
Campos will remain at the firm for another three years. “Our goal has always been to find the story, ask what’s the impact,” she says. “It’s not data for data’s sake but how we can use it to make better decisions.”
 
Portfolio Creative, a creative staffing and recruitment firm based in Columbus, Ohio, has opened an office in East Liberty. The firm specializes in recruiting creative talent for marketing firms, both full-time and freelance work for long and short term projects.
 
Not to be confused as an advertising or design firm, Portfolio Creative instead focuses on locating strong talent in the areas of marketing, creative advertising and graphic design, says Kristen Harris, COO and co-founder.
 
“Pittsburgh has a huge creative community,” she says. “We looked at a lot of cities and saw so much activity here. No one here is doing what we do, helping creative people to find one another.”
 
Founded in 2005, Portfolio Creative has been an Inc. 500|5000 fastest growing firm for the past four years. The office is located at 6101 Penn Avenue and is managed by Katie Speers.

Pittsburgh-based advertising agency Garrison Hughes moved this month into new 7,200 square foot offices the week that will double the firm’s original footprint. The new digs are on the second floor of the First & Market Building in downtown Pittsburgh. Employment has grown to 23.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Campos + Portfolio Creative

How a family joined the Pittsburgh Global Game Jam and won the Google prize

What happens when you bring gamers together for 48-hours of intense, sleepless game development?
 
The Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game creating event, took place last weekend in Pittsburgh and around the world. Think of it as the Olympic event for game development, one that gets a global buzz going while investigating what it takes to put together a cool and creative game.
 
The Pittsburgh Game Jam got underway at CMU’s ETC on Friday with the announcement of this year’s secret theme: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” From there, neurons began firing around the world and for the next 48 hours.
 
By the time it was over, 4,207 games were generated from more than 70 different countries.
 
“Some folks show up as teams, others arrive and hook up with people they meet at the jam.Then they stock up on pizza and spend the next two days working feverishly to complete whatever their sleep-deprived caffeine-infused imaginations can dream up,” says Gary Gardiner, creator of Dream Flight Adventure.
 
Gardiner made the weekend a family affair, forming a team with his wife and three sons, the eldest of whom is seven. The boys developed a storyline about two boys who live on a farm and mistakenly release all the chickens from the chicken coop. From this premise, “Chicken Chase” was born, with the boys contributing on design and game obstacles.
 
Gardiner developed the software and his wife worked on the music. The game won the Google Award for Technical Achievement; an iPad App will be out in two weeks.
 
While most of the participants were pulling all-nighters at ETC, Gardiner and family got some sleep. But “it was really neat to have my boys up there playing with professional game developers,” he says. "I pride myself on being a pretty creative guy, but this idea would have never have happened without my kids. It was a great family project.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Gary Gardiner

The latest in dining, dating and dressing in Pittsburgh? That's PGH YOU

Getting real world digital experience is what PGH YOU is all about, a student-driven publication and website created at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

This marks the third time Rob Straw, Shawn O’Mara and Tamara Pavlock have worked together to create a printed pub and online website with everything in it--videos, graphics, photography and moving social media parts.

While the first two efforts targeted 30-year-old males—PGH Man—PGH YOU was created with young male and female urban professionals in mind, those living the life in Pittsburgh and looking for good dining, dating and dressing.

“Students today need these resume builders,” says O’Mara. “It helps them create a portfolio and teaches networking.”

“Only a few college students have a full-blown publication like this in their portfolio,” adds Pavlock. “It’s totally unique.”

The students came together for 11 weeks and mapped out the undertaking, which involved the creation of a website creation, videos and motion graphics. ABC Printing donated – for the second time – the printing of the publication.  

The glossy print publication is generating quite a buzz on campus, says Pavlock.

“The class is a bit like a reality show,” adds O’Mara. “They dedicate a lot of time to this. It’s a very popular class.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: AI of Pittsburgh

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Thar Geothermal, 4moms, mullen and more

4moms in the Strip District has openings for 15+ in several areas. The robotic baby equipment maker is seeking corporate, customer, engineering, IT and marketing support.
 
mullen in the Strip District is seeking an assistant media planner/ buyer to assist in day-to-day media activity on assigned campaigns and clients.
 
Metro Recruiting in Wexford is looking for a director of web content for its online publishing and advertising company. The ideal candidate will have experience in strategically shaping and managing business opportunities, as well as knowledge of SEO and Google Analytics.
 
Wombat Securities in Oakland is hiring a digital marketing manager to create effective digital marketing programs that improve awareness of Wombat Securities.
 
Thar Geothermal seeks a entry-level mechanical engineer for the firm, which designs develops and markets cost-effective heat pump technology and systems.
 
Avere Systems on the North Side is looking for an online marketing administrator, a technical role responsible for maintaining accurate tracking of leads and data as well as conducting research and procuring contracts to supplement the existing database.
 
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is seeking part-time, self-starter who will represent the Symphony in their local community.  The idea is to increase ticket sales to Symphony performances at Heinz Hall from September to June.
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the career links.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Pittsburgh rapper Kellee Maize says Toyota's Prius suits her style

There’s good corporate thinking and bad corporate thinking says Kellee Maize.  
 
For the Pittsburgh rapper, music is all about raising social and spiritual consciousness and many of her songs have an earthy, new age slant to prove it. ("Have you heard, about a magic place, we call Peaceburgh?" ) So when Toyota USA asked her to endorse their cars in a national advertising campaign, she considered it carefully.  
 
It was the Toyota Prius that sold her, she says.  
 
“It wasn’t an easy choice,” says Maize who grew up in Central Pennsylvania and attended University of Pittsburgh before making Pittsburgh her home. “Toyota takes the idea of being green very seriously. I actually have this dream of touring across the country with a fleet of Priuses.”
 
For an unsigned, independent artist like herself to land a three-year deal as the new face of Prius is a big deal, she says. She credits the accomplishment to the online buzz she has generated the last few years through YouTube. More than one million fans have downloaded her music for free online.
 
“More than 12,000 YouTube videos have used my music,” she adds. “It’s given me a platform that has helped me to grow organically. The strategy has paid off.”
 
Her music has been a passion since she began performing at the tender age of nine; her first group was Thunder and Lightning, but “we mostly just argued about who was thunder and who was lightning,” she says. She classifies her music as conscious rap revolving around spiritual, political, and feminist themes.
 
“I want to always be able to say what I want to say,” she says.
 
Maize is also a co-founder of Nakturnal, a creative marketing and events firm based in Pittsburgh, which she founded with two other women. She also devotes time to singing and raising money for several humanitarian concerns including a nonprofit called Committed, which works to ensure a quality education for the children of migrant workers in Nepal, and homelessness.
 
Maize will release her fifth album “5th Element” close to Valentines Day, perfect timing for a release that is all about love.
 
“I think Toyota took notice of the fact that I talk about environmentalism,” she says. “I’m staying true to my values.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kellee Maize

'Internet Famous,' a raunchy comedy with an all-Pittsburgh cast+crew

What happens when a young urban professional living in Pittsburgh goes viral and finds fame on the internet?
 
Internet Famous is a new web comedy series that premieres online tonight, Jan. 22, with a red carpet showing at the Hollywood Theatre in Dormont.
 
Creators Chris Lee (Pitt, MFA grad) and Tom Williams (Pittsburgh Filmmakers) met through friends and quickly found they had a mutual admiration for “good comedy." So they wrote a script and staged a successful Kickstarter campaign, which earned them about $7500, giving them enough to hire an all-Pittsburgh cast and crew.
 
The film was shot on location throughout the city during the recurring heatwaves in July and August of 2013. Lawrenceville, the East End and Shadyside served as backdrops for the story. 

“In a lot of ways, it’s the future of TV,” says Williams. “Netflicks and Hulu are producing original content. Digital production makes it all possible.”
 
The story follows a young urban professional named Andy and his friends—they hang out together at Remedy, by the way—as he discover the highs and lows of instant celebrity and internet fame.
 
“It’s Seinfeld comes to Pittsburgh, but a little more vulgar,” says Williams.
 
The music also draws from the local music scene: The Harlan Twins, Neighbours, Nic Lawless and His Young Criminals, Delicious Pastries and The Gotobeds, to name a few. Spruce Films in Lawrenceville pitched in on the production side.  
 
Trent Wolfred plays the lead role of Andy. A grad of Penn State University, he was last seen in Lucas McNelly’s Blanc de Blanc and is a cast member at Pittsburgh Public Theatre where he is the house manager. Matthew Robison, a graduate of Point Park University, plays Andy’s sex-crazed roommate. His previous work includes local short films and videos.

Seven short webisodes were shot, all of which will be shown tonight at The Hollywood. From here, the producers are hoping to find sponsors and local investors to begin season two. Check out the trailer and premiere.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Tom Williams, Internet Famous
 
 
 

2014 DATA Awards want to be the SXSW for art+tech innovation in Pittsburgh

Move over SXSW, Pittsburgh is raising the bar and taking the annual Design, Art and Technology Awards Exhibition to the national level this year.
 
The DATA Awards have always shown off both the hottest and coolest companies on the local tech scene. In an effort to attract more attention and buzz to the scene, the event is expanding to a two-day creative summit that invites  regional and companies from across the country to come to Pittsburgh and share the love.
 
“We really want to get national exposure for Pittsburgh companies and artists,” explains Kim Chesney Harvey of the PTC. “At the same time, we want to bring leading-edge ideas here. The idea is to engage people with each other.”
 
“The closest thing to this is SXSW in Austin,” she adds. “This is homegrown. You’ll see things here you won’t see anywhere else.”
 
PTC is calling on designers and artists—from Pittsburgh to Austin, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City—to be a part of the summit as either entrants or designers. The summit will feature workshops, panels, performances and networking opportunities.
 
The summit will be capped off by the Design, Art and Technology Awards Gala, and the DATA 2014. Entrepreneur, career guru and internationally known blogger Penelope Trunk will keynote.  
 
DATA 2014 will be held at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust May 7 and 8th. The deadline for entries is Feb. 17.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kim Chestney Harvey, PTC

Pittsburgh's rue21 takes teen retail to new heights

Last year was one of monumental growth for the Cranberry-based teen clothing retailer rue21
 
In October 2013, the company returned to the private sector with London-based Apax Partners' purchase of the retailer for $1.1 billion. It was back to business for Apax, which owned rue21 before the company went public in 2009.
 
Then things took off. Within a month rue opened its 1000th store, launched a revised store format and expanded selection for guys and hung its shingle for online business. The discount retailer for guys and girls apparel and accessories continues on a steep growth trajectory. Forbes and DDIonline recognized it as one of the fastest growing retailers in the country.
 
This month the company announced the opening of its 1007 store along with ambitious plans to open 100-125 new stores across the country (in the 47 states) every year for the next five years, says Dan Harris, director of visual merchandising for rue21. 
 
rue21 employs 500 between its Weirton, Va., fulfillment center and corporate office in Warrendale and another 10,000+ people in stores across the country. The last reported sales were in 2012 of more than $900 million. 
 
The company’s sweet spot is catering to an underserved market, putting stores in strip centers and small towns, not necessarily the malls explains Harris. “We go into areas where American Eagle wouldn’t go. We can tandem in a Walmart."

“The crazy thing is people don’t realize rue21 is based in Pittsburgh, let alone how big we are,” he says.
 
rue21 rose from the ashes of Pennsylvania Fashion, a retailer that filed for Chapter 11 back in 2002. Since then, the company has been quietly reinventing itself and growing its presence through the private and public iterations. CEO Bob Fisch came on from Casual Corner in 2001.

More recently, the stores and merchandising has undergone a bright and colorful redesign. Much of rue's success comes from contantly taking the pulse of the teen market, says Harris. 

“We can react to a trend faster than most retailers can,” he says. “A teens perception of what’s cool is changing constantly. We can buy a trend and get it out faster.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dan Harris, rue21

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Openings in energy, gaming, design, law, real estate and beer

Aquion Energy is ramping up for the production of its new age battery storage units, which can only mean hiring. The manufacturer has numerous openings, primarily in engineers.
 
Eighteen positions are posted in Pittsburgh, Belle Vernon and Mt. Pleasant: battery design engineers, commercial product managers, environmental health and safety manager, production supervisors, test manager, manufacturing engineers, product engineers and a test manager.
 
This week the company received a share of $3.6 million in federal funding for a clean-energy project underway with an Israeli company.
 
Pittsburgh-based Schell Games is on the move to bigger space in Station Square. Schell currently has seven openings and internships: art director, game designers, engineering manager, gameplay programmer and more.
 
“Hiring plans are not set in stone, but it wouldn't be crazy to think we would add 5-10 people in the next 12 months or so,” says Jake Witherell at Schell.
 
Clark Hill Thorp Reed is hiring an associate in its corporate and real estate finance practice group. 
 
BEA, Inc. of Belgium, makers of automatic door sensor technology, is looking for a bilingual (Spanish/English) inside sales rep. Pittsburgh is the headquarters of Bea’s American operation.
 
Three Rivers Waterkeeper is looking for a new executive director, someone with experience with Quickbooks, WordPress and Constant Contact or other email and data management systems. 
 
Landesberg Design is on the hunt for a mid- to senior-level designer. The position requires three to ten years experience, basically someone who is a design thinker and doer. Send a resume or bio plus sampling of work to gainful@landesbergdesign.com
 
Prudential Preferred Realty, a major real estate company in Pittsburgh, is hiring new and experienced real estate agents. Training and scholarships are available for interested candidates.

Portabeer, a Pittsburgh startup and makers of a patent-pending portable keg system, is hiring a sales associate. 

Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the career links!
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Show us the money. Several Pittsburgh firms receive millions in funding and other news

All the venture capital and innovation news you need to know in Pittsburgh this week:
 
It’s no secret that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is supporting the promise of next generation battery startups with funding. This month Gates again lent his support to Pittsburgh-based Aquion Energy, which recently completed a $55 million Series D round.  The funding will allow Aquion to ramp up production at its Westmoreland facility.
 
New investors, in addition to Gates, included Yung’s Enterprise, Nick and Joby Pritzker of Tao Invest, Bright Capital and Gentry Venture Partners.
 
Glen Meakem’s new startup, Forever, raised more than $4 million this month toward a $16 million goal, according to SEC filings. The downtown company closed on $8.6 million funding round earlier this month.
 
Forever is a cloud-based, personal social storage site for paid members that preserves cherished media memories— vintage photographs, audio, video and digital media—in a standard format and stores it in the security of cloud, Meakem told Pop City in December.
 
Pittsburgh-based Aethon has closed on a $3 million investment from Mitsui & Co. USA, which invested $4 million in the firm in 2012. Aethon develops automated robotic technology for hospitals across the country.
 
In energy-related news, a Bucks County startup has announced plans to build a small-scale natural gas-fired power plant in Chartiers Township near MarkWest Energy on Route 591.
 
IMG Midstream of Yardley, formerly Iron Mountain Generation, says it strives to bring economic benefits to the communities in the Marcellus Shale region while “minimizing any potential negative environmental effects” through smaller-scale technologies that realize “up to a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide  per kWh generated when compared to traditional coal burning facilities.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Pitt opens cutting-edge Electric Power Lab and research-based Brain Institute

University of Pittsburgh opened two new leading-edge research centers this month, an Electric Power Systems Lab and a Brain Institute.
 
The Electric Power Systems Lab was unveiled last week in the in the Swanson School of Electrical Engineering, giving the next generation of electric power engineers the tools to learn the latest in electric-grid technology.
 
Eaton in Moon Township was a major collaborator and contributer to the center, a 1,500 square-foot lab on Swanson’s “Energy Floor” filled with the latest in technical and electrical equipment. The center will foster research across a wide range of electric power areas including energy efficiency, smart grid and microgrid systems and alternative energy.
 
“This is an engineers dream,” said Daniel Carnovale of Eaton during the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. “This will allow students to work on modern equipment that will be used for the next 20 years.”
 
“It kickoffs a new era of electrical power learning,” added William Stanchina, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at Pitt.  “Pittsburgh has had a tradition of expertise in this area dating back Westinghouse. This will allow us to be leaders in this field.” 
 
In other Pitt news, the university announced the creation of a new Brain Institute, a $45 million research center that will delve into the mysteries of the brain to develop new treatments and cures for brain disorders.
 
Pitt has always been on the forefront of brain research, especially the areas of Alzheimer’s, polio and autism, said Mark Nordenberg, Pitt Chancellor. The Institute will focus on the areas of neurotechnology, neurogenetics, brain mapping, learning and discovery in neuroscience.
 
“We have the intellectual firepower to take a lead role in the nationwide effort to revolutionize the understanding of the brain,” he added in a prepared statement. “The creation of our Brain Institute reflects the high priority that we have assigned to this important work and will position Pitt for even higher levels of impact and achievement in the years ahead.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: University of Pittsburgh

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh for the new year? Niche, GNC, Songwhale and more

Happy 2014! Do you know where your next job is? Each week Pop City reports on the latest company and hiring news.
 
Niche, formerly known as College Prowler, is expanding from 20 to 28 employees in the next six months. The firm provides in-depth reviews and analysis on colleges and K-12 schools. Niche is looking for business analysts, database engineers, a sales director, product managers, software engineers and web marketing specialists and analysts.
 
GNC, the nutritional supplement company with corporate offices in downtown Pittsburgh, has at least eight positions open in the region for everything from web and applications developers to merchandise managers, facilities administrators, financial services and marketing.
 
Victory Media in Corapolis, creators of marketplaces and publications that connect the military and civilian worlds, is hiring: digital product manager, web developer, national account executive, marketing director and QA analyst.
 
Songwhale is seeking a qualified part-time English to Japanese translator. The desired candidate must have native-level fluency in both Japanese and English (reading, writing and speaking) and great communication and organizational skills. Send resumes to info@songwhale.com 

Human Capital Consultants, a human resources and recruiting firm, has at least six openings in Pittsburgh for engineers, sales reps, recuitors and more. 

Avere Systems, which moved in new offices on the North Shore, has openings for engineers.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is hiring a development coordinator who will be responsible for supporting the museum's overall fundraising efforts.

The Western Pennslvania Humane Society is looking for a director of marketing and publicity.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Innovation that Mayor Bill Peduto wants that Pittsburgh needs

While the weather outside was frightful, the inauguration of Pittsburgh’s 60th mayor on Monday couldn’t have been warmer. 
  
From rocker Joe Grushecky intoning “…won’t you be my neighbor” with backup from the CAPA chorus, to poet Vanessa German inciting us to rise up and become change agents on our own front porches, to gospel singers and homemade pierogies, the Pittsburgh promise generated a heat all its own. 
 
“There is nothing wrong with the institutions of this city that cannot be repaired by good faith, square dealing and hard work,” Peduto told the gathered crowd at Heinz Hall.
 
“I will not make the mistake of assuming that my ascension to the office of mayor is, in itself, political reform. It is my job to turn this moment into an opportunity for reform.”
 
A self-described data-driven guy, Mayor Peduto moves into the office armed with 1100 pages of notes generated by a citizen-lead advisory committee that worked through the holidays on ideas to lead the region forward.
 
He has an ambitious to-do list of his own, as well, no less than 100 highly-detailed ways to lead the region, often tapping technology to get the job done.
 
Here’s a sampling of a few of the items on his innovation checklist, things Mayor Peduto wants that Pittsburgh needs:
 
· User-friendly government, beginning with a new cabinet position. Among the first hires will be a chief performance and innovation officer, a job expected to go to Debra Lam. Bring on big data!
 
· City streets with smarter traffic signals. Streamlined digital building permit systems and equal opportunity technology for all.
 
· A green tech and clean tech investment fund.
 
· Quality education and growing STEM opportunities for students.
 
· Showcasing neighborhoods through pedestrian way-finding. It will be interesting to see what this looks like.
 
· And GPS tracking for snow plows.
 
Let the new year and new season for the region begin.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Photos copyright by Brian Cohen.
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