United States

Pittsburgh

MEMBERS:
InnovatePGH Partnership Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Innovation Works

Duolingo was founded in Pittsburgh due to talent, technology, and lifestyle. It’s a great place to start a business, and a great place to live once the workday is done.

Luis von Ahn
CEO & Co-Founder at Duolingo
Top 30 North American Ecosystem: Funding
Top 30 North America Ecosystem: Talent & Experience
Top 20 Global Emerging Ecosystem: Funding

Highlights

Pittsburgh is leveraging its technical strength in AI and autonomous systems to build a dynamic and diverse startup ecosystem. The birthplace of AI, Carnegie Mellon University, and regional partners are driving the future of AI across all innovation sectors. The city’s many notable companies include Aurora Innovation — the $10B autonomous vehicle startup that acquired Uber ATG — as well as home-grown startup Argo AI, Motional, Waymo, and a dozen other mobility companies who have put down roots to solidify Pittsburgh as a global hub for self-driving technology. It’s also home to AI XPrize finalist Marinus Analytics, a women-founded startup that uses facial recognition to disrupt human trafficking and cyber fraud. Pittsburgh is growing its startup ecosystem with a focus on inclusion, widening the tech talent pipeline to ensure more women and people of color can access careers in tech. Black Tech Nation (BTN) also offers education and funding for Black technologists to create a more welcoming, inclusive community. VCs are doing their part, too. Innovation Works, Magarac Venture Partners, and BTN Ventures are all prioritizing investment in diverse founders. Entrepreneurs are inspired in an ecosystem alongside Duolingo — a language learning app that IPO’d in August 2021 at $6.5B — as well as R&D offices for tech giants that choose Pittsburgh for their most challenging projects: Facebook Reality Labs, Amazon Alexa, and Google Cloud. Pittsburgh’s startup ecosystem makes you part of a community of purpose-driven builders, makers, and innovators who work local but have global impact.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
$180 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$431 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
$5.2 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$10.5 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$75 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$494 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$3.4 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$2.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$81 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$42.1 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics

Corporate innovation and academic R&D collide in Pittsburgh’s 20+ robotics research centers to commercialize advanced technologies. Robotics leads the local investment scene, accounting for over half of all investments in 2020. Success stories include RE2 Robotics, a maker of robotic tech that improves workers' safety and efficiency; and Gecko Robotics, which raised a $40 million Series B round to develop robots for inspecting utilities. The Pittsburgh Robotics Network includes over 100 regional robotics companies.

Life Sciences

Home to over 150 life sciences companies, multiple accelerators, and two major healthcare systems driving commercialization, Pittsburgh provides startups with access to world-class research through the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Gene therapy company Krystal Biotech raised $125.12 million in its second public offering in May 2020; immunotherapy startup BlueSphere Bio raised $105 million in a tranched Series B investment after spinning out of UPMC Enterprises.

Cleantech

Pittsburgh is home to a UN Center of Excellence on High Performance Buildings and was the second city globally to commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A founding member of the 2030 District Network to reduce energy use and carbon emissions, Pittsburgh has 73 cleantech companies, 35,000 employed in the region’s energy industry, and over $103 million invested by the Department of Energy in university-based R&D in the last 5 years.

Reasons to move your startup to Pittsburgh

High-quality tech talent

Pittsburgh startups have access to a robust talent pool of 142,000 working in tech, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences companies. A pipeline of nearly 21,000 graduates with degrees in those fields stems from the 96 colleges, universities, and post-secondary institutions in the greater region, including three R-1 research universities.

The Pittsburgh Innovation District

Defined in part by the overlapping campuses and historic collaboration of four research anchors — Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, and UPMC — the Innovation District is among the top 10 concentrations of R&D spending in the US and a premier source of talent, investment, research, and startup assets.

COVID-19 Policy

In 2020, Governor Wolf allocated $225 million in CARES Act funding for small businesses in Pennsylvania through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in addition to available federal resources. With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, there will be another $7.25 billion available in the U.S. through the Paycheck Protection Program and $15 billion in Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Payments.

Get connected

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