Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky, Carnegie Mellon University President Dr. Jared Cohon and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg today announced plans for a new partnership to grow technology and innovation-based jobs in the region, to be called "PowerUp Pittsburgh.”
Last December, Mayor Ravenstahl convened a taskforce of business, education and nonprofit leaders seeking to develop a unified approach to attracting and growing more innovation and technology-driven job growth and to link with President Obama’s initiatives. Over the past year, these efforts have intensified with a leadership group including Yablonsky, Nordenberg and Cohon, along with organizations like RIDC, Innovation Works (“IW”) and the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (“PCKIZ”), leading to a critical April meeting with key White House officials. Led by the Mayor, the taskforce has worked diligently and their efforts have now culminated in the formation of PowerUp Pittsburgh.
“We challenged our university and business leadership to identify specific ways we can work together to take our innovation economy and job creation efforts to the next level and to ensure that opportunities reach every neighborhood. The fact that they have committed to joining this partnership means great things for Pittsburgh and our economy,” stated Mayor Ravenstahl.
“PowerUp Pittsburgh is a strategy that recognizes the critical importance of creating a true partnership between government, our tremendous research institutions and the business community in order to capitalize on our opportunities to grow high paying jobs in the region,” said Nordenberg.
The purpose of PowerUp Pittsburgh is to accelerate the commercialization of tech innovation activities to create jobs, particularly in underserved neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. It is a collaborative strategy that will bring together a wide range of participants to ensure that community resources – research and innovation, grant funding, government policies, corporate and philanthropic dollars – are aligned to take commercialization activities from the Oakland hub to spokes across the city.
The strategy will include:
The creation of PowerUp Pittsburgh, including a university-funded director position to coordinate the broad regional effort;
The creation of a dedicated Director of Innovation position at the URA to serve as a liaison to innovation, technology, and new economy based companies;
The formation of the Pittsburgh Innovation Economic Panel;
Efforts to enhance tech transfer at the Universities;
Coordinated regional applications to numerous federal programs;
And an effort to leverage the Oakland technology economy with numerous physical incubation spokes in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, including a major spoke in Hazelwood.
“The potential that the PowerUp Pittsburgh partnership has in shaping Pittsburgh’s economic future is very exciting,” said Dennis Yablonsky. “Getting leaders to agree on collaboration and a focused strategy isn’t easy, but when Mayor Ravenstahl called us all together, we knew this was the right thing to do and that now was the time to do it.”
The impact of PowerUp Pittsburgh is already being felt. Carnegie Mellon University was host to President Obama's launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort bringing together industry, universities, and government to invest in emerging technologies, create sustainable new businesses, and enhance U.S. competitiveness. Last month’s announcement by the Obama Administration to award a $2 million grant to accelerate job creation in the energy and healthcare clusters in Pittsburgh represents the partnership’s first win in a comprehensive strategy to advance the region’s entrepreneurial economy, and to attract vital resources, funding, and global attention. The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant was awarded to a team consisting of the PCKIZ, the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and the Hill House Economic Innovation Zone based on an application developed by Innovation Works.
“Instead of multiple Pittsburgh groups competing for grant funding, this partnership rallied around the Innovation Works application and worked collectively to send a clear message to the Obama Administration that Pittsburgh stands behind this proposal,” Ravenstahl said. “It’s that kind of leadership and collaboration that will move this City’s entrepreneurial economy forward. It’s a critical reason why we have formed PowerUp Pittsburgh.”
“We worked closely with the PCKIZ, the Hill House Association and the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence to develop the EDA proposal” stated Rich Lunak, President and CEO of Innovation Works. “We are pleased that the success of this effort can be an early contributor to the goals of PowerUp Pittsburgh.”
“The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon have worked together over the last decade to make Pittsburgh a model of university collaboration for economic development. We look forward to joining the Mayor and the Conference in a renewed commitment through PowerUp Pittsburgh to help broaden the impact of the jobs and business opportunities created by leading edge research,” Cohon said.
PowerUp Pittsburgh is an effort to coordinate and to intersect with President Obama’s efforts to grow the US economy through a commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. “Our success in obtaining the Innovation Works grant already demonstrates the success that can be achieved working collaboratively with the federal government,” said Yablonsky.
The PowerUp Pittsburgh strategy is being announced in advance of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness meetings to be held by President Obama in Pittsburgh on October 11.