Global Summit Puts Spotlight on Pittsburgh Innovation

Talk of supply chains, vaccines, climate change highlight first meeting of US-EU Tech Council

By Rick Wills

Published October 4, 2021

Read Time: 3 mins


Pittsburgh last week hosted a high-profile trade meeting between U.S. and European Union officials, highlighting the region’s increasing prominence as a home to innovation and cutting edge technology.

The first meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council tackled a series of complex and often difficult global trade and technology matters. European officials met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimundo, among other leaders.

“This puts us on the global map. We’re getting the message out,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Added Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto: “It is an honor to be selected by the president to welcome these delegations and for Pittsburgh to be recognized for its reputation for innovation and economic recovery.”

Steel to Tech

The meeting’s backdrop was a city with a thriving tech presence, including several companies designing software for self-driving vehicles.

Argo AI, a self-driving vehicle company, and Duolingo, a language learning app valued at over $2 billion, have selected Pittsburgh as home, as did Aurora, another autonomous vehicle company.

Tech companies often grow out of projects at the city’s universities, such as Carnegie Mellon University’s renowned robotics and artificial intelligence programs.

Pittsburgh has also attracted industry tech giants like Google, Facebook and Zoom. The companies have all located parts of their operations in the city and often cite local tech talent as one of its attractions.

U.S. and European officials discussed semiconductors, supply chains, vaccines and climate change, along with studies on artificial intelligence and high-tech telecommunications. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State)

Fitzgerald said the trade meeting highlights the city’s transformation from longtime heavy industry behemoth to a center of tech and sophisticated medicine.

There were many rough years during the change, he said. “Now we are attracting young people.”

Today, Pittsburgh boasts one of the nation’s most diverse economies, Fitzgerald added. And as home to prominent sports teams and cultural institutions, the city is a good place to live and work.

Unlike more famous tech hubs, Pittsburgh’s cost of living is not overwhelming.

“You’ve got a great quality of life. A home that would sell for $1.5 million in Silicon Valley might go for $300,000 here,” Fitzgerald said.

Meeting is First of Many

President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in June.

The council is a forum to coordinate approaches to global trade, economic and technology matters and to deepen transatlantic trade and economic relations.

The Pittsburgh talks focused on semiconductors, supply chains, vaccines and climate change, along with studies on artificial intelligence and high-tech telecommunications.

According to the State Department, the White House viewed the gathering as an opportunity to renew its push for improved coordination against what the administration sees as coercive and unfair trade practices by China.

Last week’s meeting was not the first international meeting held in Pittsburgh. In 2009, the city hosted the G20 summit, which also highlighted the region’s renaissance.

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