InnovatePGH, launched yesterday as a “public-private partnership conceived to accelerate Pittsburgh’s growth as a global destination for technology-based economic activity,” is rebranding Oakland and its surroundings as an “innovation district.”
The new initiative aims to “implement recommendations from a 2017 Brookings Institution study that analyzed Pittsburgh’s strengths and weaknesses as it tries to reinvent itself as a tech hub. The study, funded by the Heinz Endowments and the Hillman Foundation, found that Pittsburgh’s ‘scientific and technical strengths have not fully translated into broad-based economic activity,’” GeekWire said yesterday.
“Even though we have had a number of really fantastic wins in the knowledge economy space over the past number of years, there’s actually a lot more that we can be doing to connect the specialties within the universities and at UPMC with an economic development platform,” InnovatePGH’s Executive Director Sean Luther told GeekWire.
The partnership, based in Oakland with strong ties to Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, will launch their rebranding of the neighborhood in April.
Among the organization’s most interesting goals: InnovatePGH has voiced their commitment to making sure all of Pittsburgh benefits from the tech innovation boom that is transforming our city.
“The goal is actually to connect residents of the neighborhoods adjacent to Oakland and the innovation district to jobs in the innovation district,” Luther told GeekWire. “This is an early opportunity to demonstrate that building out the tech sector in Pittsburgh can — if we’re deliberate and live up to the mayor’s vision of an inclusive economy for all — have a direct and positive impact on all of the residents of the city, rather than creating a specific new class of folks that are operating in the innovation sector.”
GeekWire described InnovatePGH as “focused on workforce development aimed at ensuring that Pittsburgh’s longtime residents aren’t excluded from the jobs of the new economy. InnovatePGH wants to accelerate work that’s already underway by the Pennsylvania Council for Higher Education.”
In the interview, Luther also spoke about connecting “the specialties within the universities and at UPMC with an economic development platform.”
InnovatePGH’s initial announcement included warm words from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, CMU Interim President Farnam Jahanian, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman.
Stay tuned here for coverage of this new initiative.