Griffin lander over the moon. Photo by Astrobotic.

Among the many awards given by the Pittsburgh Technology Council at its annual Tech 50 Awards on Nov. 12 was this new one: Top Pivot.

The Top Pivot Award honored companies that made bold moves not only to survive the economic effects of the pandemic but to help others as well.

“It’s been an unparalleled year with unthinkable challenges,” said Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “The Covid-19 pandemic has tested everyone’s mettle in ways never imagined. This year’s Tech 50 is a testament to the fortitude, creativity and innovation that exists across our industry, membership and in every Tech 50 winner and finalist.”

Following is a list of Tech 50 Awards for 2020:

Innovator of the Year: AI/ML/Robotics
Winner: Astrobotic –
The space robotics company has more than 50 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts and a corporate sponsorship with DHL.

Astrobotic pioneered a new end-to-end delivery service to the Moon, enabling anyone to purchase and send payloads (anything from scientific instruments and rovers to artwork and time capsules) to the Moon. Their strides in technology to standardize spacecraft, such as their Peregrine and Griffin lunar landers, will lower costs to deliver payloads to the Moon and make space more accessible to the world.

In June 2020, NASA announced a $199.5 million contract with Astrobotic to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the south pole of the Moon in 2023. When VIPER disembarks from Griffin’s ramps onto the Moon, it will survey the surface and subsurface for water ice, which could be used for breathable air and rocket propellant by future deep space explorers. VIPER’s mapping of lunar water ice could be the first step toward utilizing resources in the space environment—rather than carting them all from Earth—to enable more affordable and sustainable space exploration.


•    Ansys – Ansys is the global leader in engineering simulation.

  •  Aurora – Aurora is committed to delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly.
  •  HEBI Robotics – HEBI Robotics’ vision is to change the way robots are built.
  •  IAM Robotics – IAM Robotics leverages autonomous robotic solutions to provide next-generation warehouse automation.
    •    Locomation – Locomation’s mission is to move the trucking industry toward a safer, faster and greener driverless future.
  •  Voci Technologies – Voci is committed to delivering innovative solutions that enable customers to develop contact center voice data applications.

Innovator of the Year: Consumer Goods
Winner: Digital Dream Labs – A pioneer in STEAM technology, Digital Dream Labs develops entertaining games that teach core pillars of education. The company currently has games that teach coding, math, art and chemistry being used in more than 3,500 school districts. Digital Dream Labs recently announced their partnership on numerous projects, including a game for youth integrating robotics and AI with the music industry.

With their acquisition of Anki, an entertainment robotics company, and their work on Anki’s patent portfolio, including Vector, Digital Dream Labs has become the first open-sourced robotics company anywhere. DDL also is amplifying their calling card racing game with a new level that remotely charges the AI cars on the track. Additionally, through recent acquisitions, Digital Dream Labs has grown the tech sector in Pittsburgh, bringing talent and jobs from Silicon Valley to Pittsburgh and hope to hire 30 more people in 2020.

As the leading provider of hands-on ed-tech for children ages 4-9 with products that satisfy the need for engaging, language- and system-agnostic designs, DDL allows pre-readers to interface with both on-screen environments and other devices such as educational robots, smart speakers and other smart devices and drones. The companion robots, Vector and Anki, also serve as a unique and important tool for the special needs community, the elderly and veterans with PTSD.


•    BirdBrain Technologies – BirdBrain Technologies is a research-based company dedicated to assisting educators interested in bringing coding and engineering design into any classroom,

•    BlastPoint – BlastPoint builds data solutions that help companies discover, target and engage the humans in their data.

  •    BluChip Solutions, LLC– BluChip Solutions connects business strategy and IT with unique and scalable solutions from small companies to global enterprises.
    •    DICK’S Sporting Goods – DICK’S Sporting Goods is a leading omni-channel sporting goods retailer offering an extensive assortment of authentic, high-quality sports equipment, apparel, footwear and accessories.
  •  NuMoola – NuMoola is an educational, family-focused consumer banking platform with software that enables full engagement in children’s financial well-being through savings, goal setting, investing and charitable giving tools.

Innovator of the Year: Cybersecurity

Winner: Schneider Downs & Co., Inc. 
Their cybersecurity team recently launched Redlure, an open-source phishing assessment platform designed for red teamers and penetration testers. Redlure empowers organizations and security teams to assess end-user readiness against phishing attacks by providing customizable email templates, linked landing pages and payload integrations to emulate real-world scenarios and a centralized interface scalable to user teams and organizations. The Schneider Downs cybersecurity team launched their incident response hotline for organizations who suspect they are in or are actively experiencing a network incident. The hotline is active 24/7/365 with direct access to digital forensics and incident response team providing a trusted partner in emergency situations where every second counts.

Their cybersecurity practice continues to expand service offerings to include a wide range of assessment, training and remediation services. In addition to cybersecurity needs, their unique firm structure allows them to provide IT Audit and Compliance services to mitigate cyber and compliance risks.


•    CyLumena, LLC – CyLumena was created out of a growing need for reliable cybersecurity technology, support and expert guidance in the Pittsburgh region.

  •  Ethical Intruder – Ethical Intruder is a technology- and product-agnostic cybersecurity and compliance services company.
  •  Qintel – Qintel is the world’s top cyber intelligence and investigation company—providing clients and partners with unique insights into a variety of cyber threats and adversarial behavior.
    •    VigilantOps – Vigilant Ops leverages advanced technology to bring value-add solutions to industry.

Innovator of the Year: Data Science
Idelic – Idelic is revolutionizing transportation safety while embracing their Pittsburgh and technological roots. Founded by Carnegie Mellon University graduates, they are dedicated to continuing their work to innovate and impact the world and keep drivers safe. With an industry-leading Driver Watch List that utilizes advanced proprietary Machine Learning (ML) technologies to predict drivers at-risk for a preventable crash, Idelic empowers fleets to prevent crashes, reduce driver turnover and lower insurance costs.

Idelic, the creator of Safety Suite® — the trucking industry’s leading driver management platform dedicated to improving fleet safety — announced their partnership with Samsara, a $5.4 billion technology company. Through this partnership, customers using both services will automatically have their data from Samsara’s trucking hardware uploaded to their Safety Suite account. This partnership demonstrates that Idelic is integrating itself into the trucking industry at-large and increasingly becoming the platform-of-choice for fleets.

Every day, trucking fleets are hit with a firehose of data that is difficult, expensive and time-intensive to understand. Analyzing this data and acting on the insights it generates presents an opportunity for fleets to improve their safety and operations. Unlocking the insights buried within the mountains of data a fleet has collected can make them more competitive in a difficult industry and improve public safety for everyone on the road. Safety Suite stands out with the most integrations of any driver management platform, helping fleets to organize all their driver data within a single system.


•    Cognistx – Cognistx helps companies realize the full power of their data to transform business operations and drive incremental revenue with cognitive computing.

•    Exchangelodge – Exchangelodge is a low-code SaaS platform that provides digital process automation and data integration solutions to alternative investment managers.

  •  RoadBotics – RoadBotics empowers communities to make objective, data-driven decisions about their roads and infrastructure.
    •    VISIMO – VISIMO is more than a data company. They’re a collection of innovative problem-solvers driven to develop custom technology and software solutions using the latest in analytics and artificial intelligence.

Innovator of the Year: Manufacturing – Kurt J. Lesker III Award for Excellence
Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. – Diamond Vision Division – Diamond Vision Systems, a Warrendale, PA, division of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI), introduced the world to the first full-color large-scale video display in 1980 and has revolutionized the game-day and public entertainment experience ever since. Throughout their time in the industry, they’ve introduced numerous technological advancements and have been involved in some of the industry’s largest and most complex video board projects. The Diamond Vision Systems Division has won many awards including six Guinness World Records and an Emmy for pioneering development of large-scale display technology.

Using the latest technology, Diamond Vision introduced a newly designed lightweight cabinet to use on arena center-hung displays. This innovative product allows customers to add more display area without being limited by weight restrictions, which serve as a critical factor when retrofitting displays found in existing buildings. Their designs help to reduce any additional structure needed and keep the customer’s budget to a minimum. When it comes to creativity and engineering, the Diamond Vision Division has evolved within the last year. No longer limited to traditional square screens, Diamond Vision engineered an industry-first seamless compound curve display, allowing customers almost limitless possibilities when it comes to design shapes and sizes.

With a campus consisting of eight different buildings, their IT department utilizes an electric car to help cut down on emissions. The Diamond Vision Division is also doing their part to help increase sustainability by giving customers the ability to show multiple images or videos on one display to reduce the amount of paper waste from rotating signage. Their designs also use the latest green, high-efficiency technology to limit power consumption. Overall, as technology becomes more widely available, Diamond Vision sees no limits to the dreams and designs of the human mind.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.