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City announces third cohort of PGH Lab Startup Program


February 20, 2018

Mayor William Peduto, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP), and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority have announced the third cohort of the PGH Lab program.

PGH Lab is a city-led program connecting local startup companies with the City of Pittsburgh and local authorities to test new products and services in a real-world environment for three to four months. In the program, startups are encouraged to test, gain valuable market feedback, and iterate.

In turn, the program gives local government the opportunity to explore new ways to use technology and new services to make government more efficient, transparent, sustainable, and inclusive. The City of Pittsburgh and participating authorities have collaborated with a total of eight startups in previous cycles including HiberSense, Kaarta, Renerge, and Cognowear among others.

“For the past couple of cycles, companies have been working with us to test their new solutions to improve local government. Other cities have noticed and have implemented their own version of PGH Lab,” said Mayor Peduto. 

For cycle three, applicants proposed innovative and creative solutions related to wellness and fitness, parking meters, smart network optimization, smart facilities management, and more. This application cycle sought startups coming from diverse backgrounds that have gone through local and nationally-ranked accelerators and incubators such as the Y Combinator, Alpha Lab and Alpha Lab Gear, Ascender, and incubators provided by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

Cycle three runs to the end of May 2018. To ensure the startups gain real time feedback on their products and services, they have been matched with a “City Champion,” a government employee who will work with the startup throughout the duration of the pilot project.

“The Housing Authority is excited to work with the startup companies. We look forward to collaborating to ensure all parties involved benefit from these initiatives,” said Caster D. Binion, executive director, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

“The URA is thrilled to continue working and supporting our local startups through the PGH Lab program. Our goal through the program has been to engage with as many startups as possible and provide them interesting case studies where both our staff and the startups gain valuable experience and access to new technologies.” said Thomas Link, director of the URA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The City of Pittsburgh and participating authorities welcome the third cohort of startups that will utilize Pittsburgh as their urban lab: 

• Cropolis solves some of the challenges faced by small and medium-sized farms by automating the best practices in farm marketing, sales, and administration. The company increases the availability, accessibility, and ease of purchase for healthy, local foods. Cropolis will be matched with the Department of City Planning, City of Pittsburgh.

• Global Wordsmiths is a social enterprise dedicated to improving language access in the region for LEP individuals who cannot access services as a result of the language barrier. Global Wordsmiths provides language translation, interpretation, training, and consulting services. Global Wordsmiths will pilot its full-stack language access planning service with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

• LeanFM Technologies helps facility managers make data-driven decisions by using patented data integration technologies and artificial intelligence to consolidate work and cost information of buildings. LeanFM Technologies helps increase situation awareness, save time, reduce waste, and transition to an efficient and proactive mode of operations. LeanFM Technologies will be testing their building facility management software solution with the Office of Management and Budget, City of Pittsburgh.

• Meta Mesh Wireless Communities is a non-profit organization that bridges the Digital Divide in Western Pennsylvania by using mesh networking technology to provide communities with a low-cost public Wi-Fi option. Meta Mesh builds these networks and teaches others about networking and Wi-Fi. The company will be matched with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

• NetBeez is a Pittsburgh-based network performance monitoring company that provides proactive network monitoring from the end-user’s perspective. NetBeez’s hardware and software sensors enable proactive identification of the most complex network issues by revealing the issue before it impacts users. The company will be matched with the Department of Innovation & Performance, City of Pittsburgh.

• Qlicket is workplace communication solution that offers organizations a simple, natural way to solicit feedback. Qlicket’s software drives engagement and helps companies address workplace issues more effectively by providing the most direct and scalable way to hear and respond to the voice of their employees. The company will be testing its new internal communications tool with the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

• Steel City Soils is a cooperatively-managed group that works together to recycle food and yard waste. The group focuses on making the highest-quality end product possible for urban food growing. Steel City Soils will be matched with the Office of Environmental Services and the Forestry Division of the City of Pittsburgh. 

• Zensors uses artificial intelligence software to provide human-centered and actionable sensor output with minimal hardware installation, allowing the user to make data-driven decisions. The company will be testing its smart camera software system with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

Selected startups will be offered coworking space, access to the City of Pittsburgh’s network, and mentoring and guidance from city affiliates.


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