Starting today, we will publish a weekly roundup of Pittsburgh technology news by noted local tech writer David Radin. Got tech news? Email us. And check back every Thursday for more. 

Niche closes $6.6M round; plans to hire 20 locally

Niche, the platform that helps users discover the schools and neighborhoods that are right for them, just closed on their Series B round of funding for $6.6 million. That will allow them to grow their current staff of 56 by adding 20 new hires, most in Pittsburgh at their Shadyside headquarters. The equity round was led by Allen & Company and Grit Capital Partners, both out-of-town investors. The company has already posted several of the positions on their recruiting page. In the past year, Niche has attracted more than 50 million unique visitors, by mapping every K-12 school, college and neighborhood in the country.

Velocity Robotics voted regional Hardware Cup Winner

The 2018 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is on — and the Pittsburgh region already has a winner: Velocity Robotics. The company beat out worthy local competitors, Augean Robotics, Bounce Imaging, Circalux, EXG Wearable Devices and Spand-Ice to win the regional event and a $3,000 check. It also puts Velocity in the running for the grand prize of $50,000, which will be awarded in the Hardware Cup International Finals on April 18 in Pittsburgh after regional winners are announced domestically in Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and Austin, and internationally in Japan, Israel and South Korea.

CoLab18 opens tech resource space in Nova Place

Pittsburgh continues to move forward by offering technically well-equipped resources for entrepreneurs. CoLab18 is the latest offering, a 4,600-square-foot public space for learning and collaboration among Pittsburgh’s 18 North Side neighborhoods. Nestled inside Nova Place, among other tech industry resources including Innovation Works, Alloy 26 and Expedient, CoLab18 will be receiving support pledged by 40 local agencies.