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Innovation & Startups

Highlights from Demo Day

On Tuesday, a crowd of about 500 people flocked to see demos by the current cohort of companies at Alphalab, which was recently ranked the sixth best accelerator in the country. This Demo Day also marked the debut of Alphalab Gear, a hardware and robotic startup accelerator. For the first time, the event was held at Stage AE to accommodate the ever-growing crowd, a testament to the excitement and momentum surrounding Pittsburgh innovation.
 
With so much talent in Pittsburgh, it’s no wonder Illana Diamond, managing director of Alphalab Gear, says it’s the mentorship and extensive alumni network that make Alphalab/Alphalab Gear standout from their counterparts. Indeed, in a survey led by MIT professor Yael Hochberg, entrepreneurs ranked Alphalab third in the nation for general mentorship and industry-specific knowledge.
 
Both Alphalab and Alphalab Gear are part of Innovation Works, the region’s largest seed stage investor. Investing in and providing business assistance to high-potential seed and early-stage tech companies in the Pittsburgh region, Innovation Works has made a name for itself as one of the nation’s most active seed investors.
 
While Innovation Works is certainly a major player in the Pittsburgh innovation scene, the city as a whole continued to outpace national averages in the amount of venture dollars invested in regional companies from 2009-13, according to a report by Ernst and Young and Innovation Works that was released earlier this spring. The report also points to the growing number of successful company exits as proof of Pittsburgh’s success as a hub for innovation.
 
Read on for highlights from the Demo Day presentations.
 
Last year, the United States threw away 40 percent of its food supply. FreshTemp, an Alphalab Gear company, aims to eliminate waste by making it easy to monitor and manage the temperature of perishable goods across the entire supply chain. Cloud-based Freshtemp automates temperature collection during production, transportation, and the storage of any product via state-of-the-art Bluetooth devices. The company is already working with some big names in the food industry, including Wendy’s and Popeyes.
 
What’s lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel? Carbon fiber. Just one problem, until now, manufacturing carbon fiber products has been cost prohibitive to only the aerospace and automotive industries. That’s where Alphalab Gear’s RapidTPC comes in. RapidTPC has developed a proprietary manufacturing process that enables consumer markets to automate the mass production of parts from composite materials – reducing both initial capital costs and production costs by 90 percent. Replacing materials with composites can reduce the weight of a product by 50 percent. The company is already working with a baby product company and plans to expand into the sporting goods industry in the future.

CDL Warrior, an Alphalab company, is a mobile platform for commercial truck drivers and fleets. It saves truckers time and increases productivity through tools that simplify mandatory logs that keep drivers compliant, thus avoiding costly fees and lost time on the road. The app also has a feature to quickly facilitate resolutions to long wait times and other events that delay drivers while sending automated, real-time alerts to their dispatch.
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