Pittsburgh-based Aurora, an autonomous vehicle company, began trading publicly last year, one of several local companies to have had an IPO. It’s another recent example of Pittsburgh’s growing tech economy. (Image courtesy of Aurora Innovation Inc.)

Report: Pittsburgh Tech Scene on Rise

An industry report issued last week detailed just how dynamic—and globe-spanning—Pittsburgh’s tech scene has become.

Pittsburgh ranked fifth in North America for top regional challengers in creating ecosystems for startups and new, thriving hubs of innovation, according to the 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report from the Global Entrepreneurship Network and Startup Genome, an innovation policy advisory and research firm based in San Francisco.

“The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022 underscores what we’ve seen here in the Pittsburgh region over the last few years. We have a growing ecosystem that has access to talent, is affordable, has a great quality of life, and is increasing in diversity,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“The Startup Genome report highlights the work being done in the autonomous vehicle field, but also speaks to life sciences, robotics and other tech companies that call this region home.”

The Pittsburgh Business Times noted the region got a boost from Pittsburgh companies including the July IPO of educational platform makers Duolingo Inc., the November IPO via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) of autonomous vehicle company Aurora Innovation Inc. and the October IPO of Cognition Therapeutics Inc., which employs a significant amount of its workers out of its Pittsburgh research laboratories but is officially headquartered in Purchase, N.Y.

“When people see these types of headlines it gets in people’s heads and they see Pittsburgh’s name with something positive and showing that we’re moving and doing something here—that’s part of the overall narrative that helps us,” said Pittsburgh Technology Council vice president of communications and media Jonathan Kersting.

Separately in the same report, the Pittsburgh startup ecosystem ranked No. 13 globally in the list of “Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems,” up from No. 23 in last year’s list of the same category.

Pittsburgh ranked above Istanbul, Dubai, Madrid, Frankfurt, Chengdu and others while besting traditional U.S. peer cities such as Portland, Nashville and Indianapolis.

Kersting said the competition globally is daunting, and like all regions, Pittsburgh has challenges in continuing to grow its tech economy, particularly the need for more venture capital and all sources of investment. But the region also has many advantages, especially its world-leading universities.

“It always goes back to Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, and our other universities. They’re attracting people to come here to do (research and development) at the same time (they’re) putting a lot of new research into the market,” Kersting said.

Pittsburgh’s advanced manufacturing and robotics sector as well as its life sciences and clean tech industries also received praise within the 382-page report. It also recognized the region’s talent pool of 142,000 people who work in tech, advanced manufacturing or life sciences companies throughout the greater metro area as well as the region’s relative affordability when it comes to purchasing a home compared to other cities.

That’s something Fitzgerald noted as well.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the reasons why we’re a great location: access to high-quality tech talent, focused effort around a concentration of research and development, and affordability,” Fitzgerald said.

“The county has seen the impact of that technology, life sciences, robotics, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and more on our community as our population grew over the last decade, for the first time in 60 years.”

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