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Pittsburgh Makes List Of Emerging Cities For Startups, But More Support Is Needed For Diverse Leadership

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

According to a recently released report, Pittsburgh ranks as one of the top 25 Emerging Startup Ecosystems globally, which local business leaders say the findings could help attract entrepreneurs and startup companies to the city.

Pittsburgh ranked 23rd in the list of the top 100 emerging cities for startups worldwide in the report by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

“In addition to the Startup Genome, virtually every major think tank in the U.S. now indicates that regional and even national economies are driven by strong startup ecosystems,” said Rich Lunak, the president and CEO of Innovation Works.

“As these companies grow, they create high-paying jobs, attract investment, retain key talent in our regions, and have a strong ripple effect in our economies.”

Local business leaders said the findings recognize Pittsburgh’s “unique” and collaborative entrepreneurship ecosystem and provide policy makers with benchmarks to encourage new economic growth. They noted that local institutions and companies like Carnegie Mellon University, Aurora Innovation, and Duolingo have made Pittsburgh a hub for “deep technology” like A-I and robotics.

Other startup accelerators, such as the Silicon Valley-based OneValley, have already begun to invest in Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial community. OneValley’s coworking space at Hazelwood Green will help “[support] entrepreneurs and [accelerate] startups” in the region and “connect [entrepreneurs] with the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is developing in Hazelwood Green.”

"The startup ecosystem and economy [in Pittsburgh] offer high yield, high reward investment opportunities, backed by a culture of collaboration and partnership unseen in other cities,” 412 Venture Fund managing director Ilana Diamond said in a statement.

“This report gives us a framework to attract more talent, to obviously sell more people on investing in the region. It also speaks for itself for people who are looking for emerging ecosystems… they can invest in,” said Mark Thomas, the president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

However, Thomas and other local leaders also said that more efforts are needed to support women and people of color in startups.

“We lack the community spaces and ecosystem support that you see in other markets that are thriving,” he said.

Thomas said that though the city has made some progress, it will take a concerted effort to bring entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds into leadership roles at the same rates as their white counterparts.

Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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