412 Food Rescue volunteers load a ZipCar with donations. Image courtesy of 412 Food Rescue.
Sophia Berman and Laura West of Trusst Lingerie.

7. Trusst

Founded by CMU grads Sophia Berman and Laura West, Trusst originally came out of AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty, where the founders developed a business plan to bring their innovative, proprietary bra technology to large-busted consumers. Their bras are made with a patented Breast Advanced Support Technology (BAST) system that lifts from underneath the bust, placing most of the support around the core and relieving much of the discomfort often associated with traditional bra designs. Having launched their new retail website in August, the Trusst team plans to spend 2019 building on the positive coverage they’ve received in both national and social media to move more products into more cities.

8. Voci Technologies

Over the last several years, Voci Technologies has been consistently recognized by local tech and innovation awards for their groundbreaking work on voice transcription and security technology. The company was spun off from Carnegie Mellon in 2008 and continues to work with experts there and at the University of Illinois as it refines its speech recognition tools. The Strip District-based company just unveiled an advanced new software tool that can verify a user’s identity regardless of what word or phrase they say, effectively making the distinct sound of the user’s voice into a password in itself.

Griffin lander over the moon. Rendering by Astrobotic.

9. Astrobotic

While every company on this list is on an upward trajectory, only one is going to the moon. In November, the Strip District-based Astrobotic was chosen by NASA to be one of a handful of private companies permitted to deliver payloads to a planned research station on the Earth’s only natural satellite. NASA claims that station will be operating within the next decade. More details about that contract and robots that will do the delivering will come in 2019. Astrobotic was originally spun off from CMU’s Robotics Institute in 2007 to develop technologies that would make space travel more affordable. In addition to previous support from NASA, the company also has clients like Airbus and DHL.

10. Aspinity

The company, formerly tied to West Virginia University, has pioneered a technology that allows smart appliances such as an Alexa or Google Home to listen for commands while expending a fraction of their current battery needs. Naturally, Amazon was an early investor via the company’s Alexa Fund, which in part enabled Aspinity to move to their new Strip District offices in early December. Aspinity CEO Tom Doyle says the company plans to use their most recent round of funding to build their engineering team and round out other critical functions to accelerate design, development and delivery of their first products for customers. Currently, the company has five full-time staffers and hopes to hire 10 more in the coming year.

11. Berkshire Gray

This company builds custom-made robotics for companies that maintain warehouses but fall somewhere below Amazon in the retail economy. While the company has offices in Boston, they have been building on their research and development presences in Pittsburgh steadily since 2013 and plan to double the staff at their Craig Street location during the coming year. In particular, the company says they plan to announce new partnerships based on applying AI and machine learning to supply chains in 2019.

12. Stocksnips

This two-year-old startup maintains an app that uses artificial intelligence to provide real-time stock market analysis and investment tips to retail customers and financial institutions. The underlying tech of the Troy Hill-based company has gained a sterling reputation over the last two years, and in 2019 it will reach a new level of public visibility. On Nov. 14, the company announced it will partner with The Associated Press to bring their automated analysis to millions of readers around the world. Outsourcing this clerical work to AI technology frees up journalists’ time to do the work only humans can do.

Read about the top Pittsburgh tech companies in 2018.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.