Dick Zhang of the Tech 50 finalist Identified Technologies.

When it comes to choosing the most successful, innovative companies in Pittsburgh – which, for the last 20 years, has been the mission of the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) Tech 50 awards – repeats are expected.

For the second consecutive year, Identified Technologies became a Tech 50 Start-up of the Year nominee, joining five other start-ups chosen for their ability to develop significant traction in a short time (less than five years). Other nominees in the category include the language-learning platform Duolingo and the fabrication lab BoXZY.

The team at BoXZY.

Since it was founded by CEO Dick Zhang in 2013, Identified Technologies, which develops drones for use on industrial and construction sites, has grown to two dozen employees and works with some of the region’s largest contractors and industries, including EQT, PJ Dick, JB Fay and ARM Group.

“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and dedicated group of people here at Identified Technologies,” says Zhang. “The credit for this recognition is entirely thanks to our team’s skill and commitment to our expanding list of clients.”

For the Tech 50 20th anniversary, PTC nominated 56 companies and individuals in categories such as Start-up of the Year, CEO of the Year and Culture Leader of the Year, as well as those recognizing outstanding players in fields such as life sciences, manufacturing, IT and consumer products. Finalists are chosen based on a variety of factors, including sales growth, their work in innovative products or technology and financial strength.

As PTC president and CEO Audrey Russo explains, this marks the second year for the Culture Leader of the Year award, an honor created to highlight a company’s “significant thinking and designing in terms of space and in terms of how people work.” Russo says the motivation behind the award was to let Pittsburgh know that aspect of building a business matters as the city shifts into a new economy.

“There are people doing interesting things, not just Google,” says Russo, referring to the tech giant’s knack for attracting and retaining talent with amenities like free food and beautiful work spaces, such as those built in Bakery Square. “We decided a couple years ago that we should get it out in the open and shine a light on it.”

New this year is renaming the Innovator of the Year: Manufacturing award in honor of the late Kurt J. Lesker III. For 36 years, he served as president of Kurt J. Lesker Co., a leading global provider of vacuum equipment that was founded in 1954 by Lesker’s father in their Whitehall home. Lesker passed away last year.

“He was very civic-minded and very involved in the community,” says Russo. “He was an angel investor in a lot of start-up companies. He was a renaissance man.”

The Tech 50 winners will be announced on November 3, 2016 during what’s described as a “massive celebration.”

See the complete list of finalists below:

Start-Up of the Year

  • BOSS Controls
  • BoXZY
  • Cognistx
  • ContainerShip
  • Duolingo
  • Identified Technologies

Innovator of the Year: Consumer Products

  • 2nd Skull
  • Diamond Kinetics
  • RedMorph Inc
  • YinzCam, Inc.

CEO of the Year

  • Ron Bianchini, CEO and President, Avere Systems
  • Greg Harmeyer, CEO & Founding Partner, TIER1 Performance Solutions
  • Michele McGough, CEO and President, solutions4networks
  • Joel Reed, CEO, OpenArc LLC
  • JesseSchell, CEO, Schell Games
  • Robbin Steif, CEO & President, LunaMetrics

Innovator of the Year: Health IT

  • Careform, Inc.
  • Iagnosis, Inc.
  • Rijuven Corp
  • TeleTracking Technologies, Inc.
  • Touchtown
  • Treatspace
  • TrueLearn

Solution Provider of the Year: Consulting and IT Services

  • Accion Labs Inc.
  • Apogee IT Services
  • Continuum Managed Services
  • OpenArc, LLC
  • Plus Consulting
  • RDX
  • SDLC Partners L.P. – Monroeville, PA
  • Summa

Innovator of the Year: Life Sciences

  • AbiliLife
  • CardiacAssist, Inc. dba TandemLife
  • Foundation Radiology Group
  • InteloMed, Inc.
  • Peptilogics
  • Tobii Dynavox

Solution Provider of the Year: Innovative Technology

  • ANSYS, Inc.
  • Avere Systems
  • Matrix Solutions
  • Savvior
  • ShowClix
  • Simcoach Games
  • Voci Technologies, Inc.

Innovator of the Year: Manufacturing – The Kurt J. Lesker Award for Excellence

  • Advantech US Inc.
  • Aquion Energy
  • Interphase Materials
  • Optimus Technologies
  • Seegrid
  • threeRivers 3D, Inc.

Culture Leader of the Year

  • Autosoft, Inc.
  • Confluence
  • LunaMetrics
  • Robots and Pencils
  • Summa
  • TiER1 Performance Solutions

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...