Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund has awarded 16 Pittsburgh startup companies $800,000 to fuel company growth.

The fund, established by CMU alumnus and Flip Video Camera creator Jonathan Kaplan and his wife Marci Glazar, provides early-stage financing to alumni who have graduated from the university within the last five years.

Each recipient receives a $50,000 investment along with personalized mentoring from CMU faculty and alumni.

“It provides newly founded companies with critical resources at the right time in their startup development, enabling them to grow to the next level,” says Dave Mawhinney, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Recipients for 2014 include:

BandPass: Simplifies live music by providing bands with direct access to the shows they want to play and giving venues all the information they need to book shows.

Bistrobot: Wants to revolutionize fast food by using robotics technology to create fresh food in a timely manner.

Collected: Allows users to uncover and reuse existing work by providing related content from the user’s cloud accounts as they type.

Digital Dream Labs: Teaches children how to build programs as they guide characters in a video game through puzzles, learning the fundamentals of computer science along the way.

Greenovation: Designs, builds and develops affordable and sustainable housing.

Impaqd: Offers a real-time, location-based system that provides direct communication between shippers and truckers.

Innovesca: Develops processing technologies to provide users with a detailed account of food’s nutritional benefits.

LegalSifter: Helps users to better understand legal documents by helping them to summarize, sort and search legal information quickly and efficiently.

LifeShel: Produces smartphone cases and applications that crowd-source community safety through prevention hardware and a user-based responder network.

Midnight Madness Distilling: An absinthe distiller that provides a premium alternative to common liqueurs with its Swiss-imported herbal liqueur.

Naturi: A group of food enthusiasts who create and share artisanal and organic recipes.

PieceMaker: Provides retail stores a way to create customized inventory.

popAD: A user-generated advertising platform that allows users to create quality ad content using data-driven ad products.

SolePower: Develops power-generating shoe insoles for charging portable electronics just by walking.

Solvvy, Inc.: A problem-solving assistant that gives users the best solution from the Web when they describe a problem.

Trance: A social network where people can watch, record and share dance videos, serving as “the world’s largest dance floor.”

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.