Pittsburgh, known as The Steel City, was once the hub of the steel industry in the United States, fueling the city’s growth for most of the 20th century. However, in the 1980s, the Steel Industry collapsed, leaving thousands of workers unemployed.
A New Dawn
This centuries-old city has seen many ups and downs and still survived. And once again, it has reinvented itself after its downfall as a steel major. Today, it has become home to a dynamic community of technology startups.
Pittsburgh has now become the center for startups that are focusing on robotics, artificial intelligence, and biomedical research and development.
Thanks to the new industry, there are many new economic opportunities for the city. In recent years, Pittsburgh has experienced exponential growth in venture capital funding as well as job creation.
Data for the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis shows that there were 41% more jobs available in the private sector’s scientific and research and development sector than in the steel mills. Added to that, the number of jobs in the mills have been steadily declining, while jobs in the technology sector have been on the increase.
How the Transition Took Place
A lot of the new activity is a direct result of the research work and new technologies being developed in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Melon University. These two premier institutions have been key to the recovery of the city after its industrial decline.
The entire move towards technology was initiated by Carnegie Melon University when it creating research labs focused on niche technologies over many years. The university has one of the biggest computer science programs in the United States today.
The university invested about $800,000 in 16 different technology startups that were founded by their active students as well as alumni. CMU has used this method of venture capitalism to the great advantage of the last few years and has also set up a $20 million venture fund in partnership with GE Ventures.
According to a 2018 article published in Robotics Tomorrow, this partnership between CMU and GE Ventures is what has led to the creation of Pittsburgh’s robotics hub.
Home to Technology Innovators
KARTA, a software startup that focuses on real-time 3D scan technology, and Duolingo, another startup that has created a platform that helps you learn different languages, and Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM), a company that focuses on the use of robotics in the manufacturing sector, are just some of the companies that now call Pittsburgh home.
And it isn’t only startups that are mushrooming in this city. Some of the biggest technology majors are also investing in Pittsburgh.
Uber Technologies Inc., the ride-hailing giant, established its self-driving business in Pittsburgh in 2015, and it employs more than 1,000 people at its facility. Another startup focused on autonomous driving technology, Aurora, opened up an office in the city too.
Facebook’s Oculus, which focuses on virtual reality technology, is also based in Pittsburgh. Even the internet search giant, Alphabet Inc.’s Google has set up camp in this city.
Pittsburgh still has a long way to go for complete economic recovery, but the technology industry is doing a lot to lead the way to a brighter future for the city.