The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is offering four grants up to $10,000 each for ideas that reimagine Downtown public spaces and demonstrate new and emerging technologies being developed in Pittsburgh.

“All of the public places Downtown mean nothing if it’s not for people being inside of them,” says Brian Kurtz, director of economic development at the PDP. “We are looking for catalytic projects that excite people and bring them together.”

This is the second round of BetaBurgh funding. The program was originally inspired by DUMBO’s Test Kitchen, a micro-grant program in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The first class of BetaBurgh grant winners was announced in March. The four $10,000 grant recipients created solar-powered charging stations, mobile symphonies and more installed in Downtown spaces from June to December.

The Aquaponics Project. Photo courtesy PDP.

“It being our first time we didn’t know if we’d get 5 or 50 applications,” says Kurtz. “We ended up with 35 applications that we narrowed down to 10 semi-finalists.”

One winner, The Aquaponics Project, involved installing an urban farm at Liberty Avenue Park Downtown. The idea was conceptualized and designed by University of Pittsburgh students.

Another winner, Digital Dream Lab, installed large-scale digital “puzzlets” throughout Downtown. These were adapted from handheld versions they had been developing in-studio, and now they are adapting the large-scale BetaBurgh design for use in retail stores.

The PDP is hoping that most of the projects are designed for the Golden Triangle where they will be encountered by the most people.

“Our goal is to bring people together in unexpected ways,” says Kurtz.

PDP is hosting an information session on January 4 at 5:30 p.m. Interested parties are encouraged to register in advance. The deadline to apply is January 20 and winners will be announced in March.

BetaBurgh is supported by the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and assisted by Innovation Works. Members of BNY, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Deeplocal, and the Mayor’s Office are on the selection committee.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.