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Innovation & Startups

Innovation Works celebrates the region's entreprenuerial transformation; 4,684 jobs created

The Innovation Works annual meeting is generally a time for reflection, a pat on the back for milestones reached during the year with a respectful nod to the challenges ahead.

This year the recognition extends during a full day of events. An afternoon AlphaLab demo day and investor pitch flows into the evening's annual meeting and company showcase at the Circuit Center, drawing the largest crowd in Innovation Works history in recognition of the transformation that entrepreneurs and companies are bringing about in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Despite having lost 42% of its core funding through the state, the supporter of early startups continued to provide crucial dollars that are giving companies the power the change the region's economic landscape.

"I think what's remarkable is these are local startups that are getting international attention for what they're doing," says Rich Lunak, president and CEO of IW. "It's a testament of the quality of the deal flow and continued momentum in our entrepreneurial community."

IW companies grew in every aspect in 2010. Among the highlights:

$4.6 million was invested in IW-assisted companies; 27 companies received IW seed investment

$193 million in follow-on funding was spread among 25 IW companies in 2010, the highest amount for any single year

81 companies received IW funding in 2010

4,684 in employment was attributed to IW-assisted companies

73% of all venture deals in the region went to IW portfolio companies

$52,000 was the average annual salary at an IW-supported company

IW was able to maintain a high level of resource support for entrepreneurs with additional funds from foundations, the federal government and other sources. Pennsylvania's dedicated financial support for energy and clean technologies startups has allowed IW to invest $1.2 million in 11 energy-related companies in 2010.

In addition, IW was recognized by the White House and the Obama administration for its success in working with early stage companies. AlphaLab was selected as one of the nation's top accelerators and several companies achieved national recognition including Knopp Biosciences, which secured $345 million, one of the largest pharmaceutical transactions in the country, and mSpoke, the first acquisition by the largest professional online network in the world.

"We feel there's a lot of good momentum in our startup community," says Lunak. "A lot of regions are looking to grow their entrepreneurial and startup sectors; many are looking at IW and Ben Franklin Technology Partners in general as a model practice."

The IW Annual Community Meeting & Showcase starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Circuit Center at 5 Hot Metal Bridge Street.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Rich Lunak, Innovation Works

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