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Mt. Lebanon : Pittsburgh Innovates

90 Mt. Lebanon Articles | Page: | Show All

Pittsburgh’s startup web portal gets a facelift

Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial web portal, Help Startups, will launch a series of new features this month including new widgets and video.

An additional grant from the Benedum Foundation will give local entrepreneurs new tools in the coming weeks as each enhancement is rolled out, says Gary Rosensteel, executive director of Help Startups and a principal at NuCoPro.

“We’ve created an environment for startup companies to receive more exposure,” says Rosensteel. “Companies will be able to post press releases, videos and articles. If we want to build up Pittsburgh, it is going to come from our startup community.”

In addition to a vibrant new look, site features include:

·    More information made available on the Home page
·    Entrepreneurial news assembled from a number of other web sites via RSS feeds
·    Widgets that you can grab to share Help Startups information on your site
·    Expanded User Profiles can be viewed by other users, including listings of social network connections
·    Companies can post Press Releases, highlighted on the Home page
·    A dynamic link is provided to Yet2.com where you can search through thousands of innovations that are available or that companies are seeking
·    Featured Companies and Videos will regularly be updated on our Home page

Help Startups was launched in 2007 with the help of the Heinz Endowments and Benedum Foundation.

Image courtesy HelpStartups.com

Join Pittsburgh Rootscamp, an unconference for progressive political organizers

Waging a campaign for clean air, a political candidate or a new high school? Pittsburgh RootsCamp is the unconference for the times.

RootsCamp was initiated by The New Organizing Institute, a progressive movement that promotes a sustainable society and participatory democracy by building power through the support of diversity. The day will be facilitated by founder Michael Morrill, creator of Keystone Progress, an online advocacy organization that seeks to unite the voices of progressive political groups in  Pennsylvania.

RootsCamp tends to attract politically-minded people for a day of grassroots learning and organizing, explains Lizandra Vidal, convener of the Pittsburgh conference. It’s a participant driven forum that offers an “open space” format that unfolds as the day wears on. Activists, organizers, leaders and politicians come together to share and learn in a fast-paced environment. No spectators or tourists allowed.

“The coolest part about it is that it’s an un-conference,” Vidal explains. “It’s built on the people who are there.”

RootsCamps have been successfully held in 8 cities in the U.S. and more are planned around the country. Pittsburgh RootsCamp will be held on Saturday, Jan. 24th at the United Steelworkers Building. The cost is $10, which includes lunch.

For more information, click here.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Image courtesy Pittsburgh RootsCamp

New Pittsburgh website posts 2009 resolutions for the world

Digital scribes from around the world are posting their hopes for the new year on a website created by Pittsburgh eMarketing company Elliance.

…that the massive earthquakes in global financial systems will have a silver lining: re-adjust values and intentions regarding social justice in ways that lead to a more fair world…

…people will stop listening to the media who are driving all of the bad news and making it worse than it is. I hope people start to think for themselves…

…that they invent hot dog-flavored water…

Elliance developed the Twitter-like repository for short sentiments, hoping to draw positive energy and create momentum. What began as a holiday expression for friends and family has taken on a life of its own, fanning out through social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

“The goal is to create a nexus of good thoughts and wishes for the coming year,” explains Geoff Barnes, senior information architect. “It’s a small site, a reaction to the darkness, cynicism and panic in the world. We’re putting it out there like a magnet and seeing how many people respond.”

2009hopes.com has several fun gadgets too. Click on scroller and the hopes of the world come to you. Visit the map and learn what those in other countries have to say. Click on cloud and view an abstract tapestry of mixed up messages.

“The economy has been really rough and people are looking for a hopeful thing in this time of great transition. This channels good energy and good vibes and hopes and prayers of people,” says Abu Noaman, CEO. “If you start committing it to electronic pen—all the forces of the world conspire to get you there.”

To add your energy, click here.

To receive Pop City weekly, click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Geoff Barnes, Abu Noaman, Elliance


 
Image courtesy Elliance


Looking for work? Pittsburgh website posts 30,000 well-paying jobs

If you’re looking for a job—and many are these days—the Allegheny Conference on Community Development lists 30,000 job openings on its job search portal, the Imaginemynewjob.com website.

Wielding a powerful, spider search engine, the site reaches out and gathers all the online job postings within a 71 mile radius of the city. Listings are drawn from Monster, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and individual company websites; duplicate postings are eliminated, explains Dewitt Peart, executive vice president of economic development and president, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.
 
“Despite the recession, there are opportunities here,” he explains. “We’ve diversified our base and there’s strength in our diversification. Pittsburgh may be a place you want to consider if you’re looking for a job.”

While Imagine doesn’t offer a breakdown of jobs by type, more than 25,000 are full-time positions and more than half pay $40,000 per year or more. A free service, the website allows job seekers to search for positions based on location, salary range, title, company and job type. Users can establish customized accounts, join the network “Linked In,” listen to podcasts and read more about the region.

October marked the third straight month that Pittsburgh reported strong employment figures, a growth rate of 0.6 percent that was well above the rest of the country, which fell by –0.1 percent.

Launched in September, more than 28,000 people have visited Imagine and stayed more than six minutes. The conference launched a marketing campaign in the Washington D.C. corridor this fall.

 “We’re getting hits from all around the word. The word is spreading and we’re being referred,” Peart adds.

To receive Pop City free each week click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dewitt Peart, Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Image courtesy Allegheny Conference


Pittsburgh gets a new venture fund for life science startups

Two prominent business leaders have launched a new venture capital fund to help fuel the growth of the life sciences industry in the region.

Peter DeComo and Gary Glausser have joined forces with Corridor Venture Partners, a targeted $50 million fund that will assist early stage biomedical research in the region with gap funding, money to fuel established startups as they advance to the commercialization stage.

“This region is rich in medical device companies,” says an enthusiastic John Manzetti, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse. “It’s nice to have a strong life sciences based firm with local partners who know a lot about the community and life sciences in general, and these guys do.”

Both DeComo and Glausser will leave their current jobs by the end of this year to devote time to the enterprise.

DeComo is the CEO of Renal Solutions, which was sold in November 2007 to Fresenius Medical Care of Germany. He will stay on as a consultant to Fresenius  and will continue to serve on the boards of ALung, Thermal Therapeutics, ClearCount and PLSG.

Glausser will remain as a partner with Birchmere Ventures but devote full-time to the new fund. He has more than 25 years of experience as a financial manager, investor and venture capitalist and has served on the boards of Precision Therapeutics and Renal Solutions, to name a few.

There is investment money out there, says DeComo. “This will bring homegrown venture capital to the region, focus on life sciences and hopefully create successful companies that will stay here, employ more people and create wealth.”

To receive Pop City free each week click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Peter DeComo and Gary Glausser, Corridor Venture Partners, John Manzetti, PLSG

Peter DeComo (left) courtesy of Renal Solutions and Gary Glausser courtesy of Birchmere Ventures


My Mobile Witness is your free personal bodyguard

Imagine walking through a dark parking lot and feeling as if you’re being followed. Quickly, you snap a picture of the person behind you before you reach your vehicle. The picture is instantly sent to officials, dated and stamped in case the unthinkable happens.

Pittsburgh-based My Mobile Witness has developed a groundbreaking mobile cell phone technology that may revolutionize personal security and provide law enforcers with irrefutable evidence should you meet with a worst case scenario. Armed with a cell phone, subscribers send phone pictures or texts of suspicious situations--like a license plate or person--to a secure server before something happens.

The information is stored for 6 months before it’s destroyed, evidence that is available immediately to law officials in an emergency. Unlike dialing 911, it allows users to non-invasively register a concern without engaging an official response.

The idea was developed by Pittsburghers and Hempfield High School friends Marc Anthony and Scott Bullens. They were opening a real estate office when they began pondering the nature of the business—how agents, particularly women, meet with complete strangers in isolated locations.

With the help of Ron Knight, a former FBI agent who participated in such high profile crimes as Waco, Columbine and Ruby Ridge, they developed Witness and launched it in October. Photos are assessable only to law enforcement officials through Fusion Centers, federally funded data centers set up after 9-11 to assist in the coordination of digital traffic.

“I’ve had cases in my career where the outcome could have been significantly different if we’d had this tool,” explains Knight, chief security officer. “There’s no more compelling evidence than a photograph. I’m sending my 18-year-old son off to college and he is signing up whether he likes it or not.”

If the tool takes off, cell phones might become critical leverage in certain situations, helping to deter crime, he adds. “If people knew it was out there, some crimes might not occur.”

A virtual company, Witness employs 8 technical employees and several law enforcement consultants. The company hopes to hire and open a Pittsburgh office in the near future.

To receive Pop City free each week click here.

Writer: Deb Smit

Source: Marc Anthony and Ron Knight, My Mobile Witness






Pittsburgh’s FlashBox preserves better party memories

If you thought reality TV was riveting, imagine your wedding or event captured by  Pittsburgh-based Flashbox Media.

Developed by three Carnegie Mellon alumni, FlashBox is a portable, interactive kiosk, strategically positioned at a party, that captures video and gains momentum as the evening wears on. By the end, there’s no telling what the video footage may reveal, especially if alcoholic beverages are being consumed.

Co-founder Michael Mandel, chief technology officer, piloted the beta version at his own wedding. “It wasn’t until I got the video back that I realized how different (the footage) was (from a professional videographer),” he says.

“There is no pressure, no one walking up and pointing a camera in your face. You get a cross-section of the wedding you normally don’t get to see—relatives singing songs passed down in the family, friends telling stories, just talking. When I look at this in 20 years, I’ll say, yeah, this was what it was really like to be there.”

The kiosk preserves better memories by capturing the essence of the occasion rather than a deer in the headlights performance, the creators say. Individuals or groups are encouraged to revisit the kiosk with commentary, skits or songs. The final product is a professionally packaged and edited DVD in a keepsake case, a point of pride for the FlashBox makers who have professional television production backgrounds.  
 
Currently only available in the Pittsburgh region, FlashBox markets its technology directly and through local bridal fairs and wedding planners. In the first year, the company booked about 45 events, mostly weddings, bar and bat mizvahs and milestone birthdays and anniversaries. The company hopes to attend 100 to 200 events in the coming year.

To see FlashBox in action, click here.

To receive Pop City weekly click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Michael Mandel, FlashBox Media


Image courtesy FlashBox Media

The hottest gift for the holidays is giving--a Pittsburgh roundup

No gift quite equals the gift of giving, especially in difficult economic times.

Which is why this year’s hottest gift may be to a favorite charity or green enterprise. May the following list guide you to charitable ways in Pittsburgh to make a difference this holiday season.

Neighbor-Aid is a special emergency fund created to support nonprofit organizations struggling to meet the demand from families and individuals as a result of the financial crisis. Administered by the Pittsburgh Foundation, Elsie Hillman, the United Way of Allegheny County and others, donations will help those struggling to pay rent, mortgages and utility bills.  To donate online, click here.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is raising money to build and sustain Pittsburgh’s community libraries through a contribution to Libraries for LIFE. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has agreed to match every dollar raised for the capital campaign up to one million dollars. For more information, click here.

Investing in Pittsburgh Cares is an investment in the Pittsburgh community. Your tax-deductible donation can help to build a kitchen for a community center, provide a healthy lunch to low-income seniors, or offer a scholarship for a student to participate in our Pittsburgh Young Leaders Academy. For more information, click here.

Join Sustainable Pittsburgh and help to promote a greener, more sustainable Pittsburgh. Click here for details.

…and then in a twinkling, peace filled the air. Happy Holidays one and all!

To receive Pop City free each week click here.


Instant podcast gratification the latest at Talkshoe

The Pittsburgh voice of audio social media, Talkshoe, has launched a new service for audiophiles on the go.

Until now, hosts had to schedule their podcast episodes on the Talkshoe website or through Facebook, but with Instant Talkcast there’s a new immediacy to the spoken word.  The service is recorded live through your cell phone and it’s available to all subscribers and through iTunes.

“Now you can literally grab your cell phone, call into our system and initiate an Internet telecast on the fly,” says Dave Nelsen, founder and CEO. “It’s a much richer, more instantaneous way of connecting.”

Instant Talkcast enables users to weigh in the minute they leave the movie theater or sporting event. It’s the voice form of twittering, the popular website where online users post quick, stream of consciousness word-bytes.

Talkshoe uses the same technology—really simple syndication (RSS) feeds—to broadcast to subscribers. The format allows up to 300 people to join in a conversation live. Or subscribers can listen to a recorded feed.

“This definitely bumps social audio media to the next level as people talk, debate and interact with one another,” says Nelsen. “Consumers have never had this ability to teleconference with one another before.”

Talkshoe currently receives over 1 million caller minutes a month. Since early 2007, more than 100,000 calls have been recorded on TalkShoe and they've been listened to 18 million times, Nelsen says. Revenues are generated through monthly subscriptions from business users (the service is free to individuals) and short audio ads placed in recordings.

“It’s exciting to see how a little company in Wexford has become an interesting part of the social media movement,” says Nelsen. Talkshoe is supported by Innovation Works and Blue Tree Allied Angels.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dave Nelsen, Talkshoe

Image of Dave Nelsen courtesy of Talkshoe



Pittsburgh Signs Project lets the signs speak—so what are they saying?

We are all drawn to signs.

That is exactly how four people, particularly passionate about signs in our region, found one another. Together they started a website and the Pittsburgh Signs Project was born, a labor of love that attracted others to join in a like-minded, crowd-sourced endeavor to collect and photograph old and new pieces of our region’s history that tell our personal stories and reflect the visual identity of our communities.  

This month the five-year project became available as a full-color book, Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. The book highlights the photographs of 60 local photographers and the work of the four authors: Elizabeth Perry, technology and integration specialist at The Ellis School and her husband Mark Stroup, instructor with Goodwill of Southwestern Pa.; Jennifer Baron, editor of Pop City’s Pop Filter and Development News, and her husband, Greg Langel, media and marketing manager at The Frick.

From the Modern Café on the North Side to the Electric Banana and the flying cow, the signs present an eclectic and comforting mix, “a mongrelization of type-styles, graphics and fashions. The futuristic becomes the modern becomes the dated becomes the retro,” Stroup writes. 

“Signs evoke many different reactions in us,” explains Perry. “Signs act as crossroads, a nexus for the community, a source for our memories. For me, it’s about being present in the world, noticing what is around me and appreciating it.”

The book is available at Carnegie Mellon's bookstore, and at the Mattress Factory and Heinz History Center shops, and will be sold Dec. 15th at the Making Connections event at Carnegie Science Center. The project is supported in part by a regional award from Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections and The Sprout Fund.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Elizabeth Perry, Pittsburgh Signs Project

Image courtesy Larry Rippel



Pittsburgh KIVA founder presents the world’s first entrepreneurial charity

Billed as a mix of Google with the do-good ethos of U2’s Bono, KIVA's message is coming to Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh native and co-founder of the San Francisco-based non-profit KIVA Jessica Jackley Flannery will speak at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township on Dec. 16th about the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website that empowers individuals to lend money directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Flannery, 31, is a 1996 graduate of North Allegheny High School and grew up in Franklin Park.

The concept has generated a storm of media publicity from the Wall Street Journal to Oprah Winfrey.

“The Regional Learning Alliance is proud to offer a program on both philanthropy and the spirit of entrepreneurship during this holiday season with a native that Pittsburgh can be so very proud of," says Justin Griffith, general manager. "She has taken an idea and, in just a few short years, created an organization that has changed the lives of people all around the world."

Kiva has connected with truly promising, real entrepreneurs in impoverished nations worldwide and established a data-rich, transparent lending platform to enable people to connect with and help aspiring businesspeople in need.

Like a social networking site, Kiva posts profiles of potential borrowers and lenders select an individual or group. A little goes a long way in a developing country. Phebe, a widow, farmer and mother of seven in Cameroon, hopes to raise $975 to buy fresh manure, fertilizer, seeds and chemicals to improve her farm and sell crops to the community.

Instead of donations, lenders offer small loans that are sent directly to a microfinance institution in the borrower’s country. The bank monitors the transaction and ensures the loan is repaid. Ninety percent of all active loans are paid on time and the default rate is less than 1 percent. The money is then recycled and loaned again, although that step of the process is still being worked out.

“The Entrepreneurial Spirit” will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes breakfast, a keynote speech and roundtable lunch discussion. The cost is $70 for the whole program but those wishing to attend only a portion of the day can do so for $35. Twenty percent will be donated to KIVA.

Registration is by mail through the RLA website, click here.


Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Justin Griffith, Regional Learning Alliance

Image of Jessica in Tanzania courtesy KIVA

St. Clair Hospital unveils new state-of-the-art emergency wing

St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon will celebrate the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art emergency department on Dec. 17th, the centerpiece of a hospital-wide effort to improve efficiency and service at the 326-bed facility.

The seventh largest hospital in Southwestern Pa., St. Clair’s emergency room is the busiest in the region, having treated 52,000 patients in 2008. The $13.5 million center will increase the capacity to 46 patient treatment rooms, 30 equipped for everything up to acute adult care, six for pediatric needs and three for behavioral and mental health. The facility is equipped to accommodate 80,000 visits per year.

Perhaps the most impressive feature is the increased efficiency of emergency operations, or door to doctor time. One of the first hospital’s in the region to embrace the Toyota Production Model, a patient-care method promoted by the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative, St. Clair expects to drastically reduce the bane of all emergency rooms, wait time.

The door to doctor wait time has already decreased from 79 minutes to 12, says Dave Kish, executive director of emergency services and patient logistics.

“Many times organizations try to make changes that are top-down driven,” Kish explains. “We put the patient in the center of the model and make everyone on staff a stakeholder in the final product to streamline the process and eliminate waste. The results are pretty dramatic.”

In addition to the new family- and patient-centric emergency department, the hospital has improved patient flow with a wireless teletracking escort system by Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies and a staff communication system by Vocera Communications. St. Clair also announced it has performed the first Single Incision Laparoscopic surgical procedure in our region, a new minimally invasive technique that minimizes scarring and pain and allows surgery patients to return quickly to normal activities.

Earlier this year, the hospital opened one of the first hospital cafes in our region serving locally grown, cooked to order fresh food. A new cafeteria is planned for 2009.

To read more about the development and design, click the Pop City article here.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dave Kish, Richard Sieber, St. Clair Hospital

Image courtesy St. Clair Hospital


Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio takes a fresh look at local business news

Pittsburgh has a new radio and web stream business show with a hip format and online podcast library that hopes to elevate the local business conversation.

Pittsburgh Rennaissance Radio airs live everyday from 3 to 6 p.m. on radio 1360 AM and on the web at prrradio.com where you can click on a previous podcast through Pittsburgh’s Talkshoe. From taxes and jobs to the latest local business and development news, PRR offers intelligent, in-depth interviews with local leaders who report on what is happening globally and distill the meaning for listeners locally.

With a relatively young staff of six—if you include the exuberant founder Ron Morris—and an upbeat music library that rivals the eclectic mix at NPR, PRR is not your grandfather’s radio show.

“We’ve got California going to hell in a handbasket everyday and Hoddy Hanna (of Howard Hanna Real Estate) talking about the growing real estate market in Pittsburgh,” says Ron Cygnarowicz, vice president. “Ron wanted a younger staff because he wanted to reach both an older and a younger audience.”

PRR is based on the success of “The American Entrepreneur,” the Saturday morning program with Morris that has aired for the past 10 years. To mix it up, local top executives take turns as host each week: Mark DeSantis, CEO of Mobile Fusion; Jim Roddey, former Allegheny County executive, David Radin, creator of Megabyte Minute to name but a few.

A weekly spot on local tech companies, “TechVibe,” airs each Tuesday with Jonathan Kersting and Audrey Russo of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
 
“We want to raise the business IQ of the region,” says Morris. “If we help people to become more business savvy, we’ll see better employees, better entrepreneurs, better businesses overall.”

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Ron Cygnarowicz, Ron Morris, Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio

Image courtesy Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio

Pitt takes latest bioscience research on the road to region's schools

University of Pittsburgh unveiled a 70-foot mobile science laboratory that will give K-12 students hands-on knowledge of the latest medical research and advanced biology.

The three-year program was initiated by the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse and involves Pitt, the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative Inc. (PTEI) and the Pittsburgh-based Lyceum Group. The mobile lab will serve 4,000 Allegheny County students and extend beyond to underserved rural districts in Washington, Green and Fayette counties and north to Meadville and Erie.

“Our role is to bridge what’s going on in our research labs with high-quality research that’s changing the face of science everyday with what teachers in our region are required to teach,” says Alison Slinskey Legg, director of outreach for the Department of Biology at Pitt. “This is a fully functional state-of-the-art laboratory.”

The lab contains 26 work stations for 52 students and an upper staging for an additional 10 students and teachers. The interior is enclosed in glass on one side, keeping the temperature constant while providing natural light “so students don’t feel like they’re in a tin can,” says Legg.

The region joins 20 other cities across the country in offering the latest research through mobile programs. Student activities include an opportunity to diagnose and control fictional viral epidemics to an investigation of natural selection in gut organisms.

The University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) purchased the mobile laboratory for $120,000 and will support its operation with $25,000 annually. The program hopes to hire more staff and raise additional funds in the coming year.

“We need to show kids that science is fun by high school, middle school, and, ideally, elementary school, if we want to foster a pipeline of new scientists,” says Steven Reis, director of CTSI.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Alison Slinskey Legg, University of Pittsburgh, Steven Reis, CTSI

Image courtesy University of Pittsburgh


Guided by progressive principles, Newton Consulting growing

A teacher once told Rick Newton that he should be able to sum up his life calling with a single phrase.

“I’m a vision implementer,” he says. “I have the ability to understand another’s business vision, adopt it as my own and get from point A to point B.”

With a refreshing business model and progressive principles, the IT consulting company has grown in four quick years into an $8 million business with 25 full-time and 25 sub-contracted employees, all of whom work virtually from home or in local coffee shops.

To top it off, Newton Consulting won a Pittsburgh Technology Council Tech 50 award this year in the service provider category.

"What has been tremendously satisfying to me is that this model, built on customer focus, principles and giving away the company, has been successful," says Newton, who strives for a personal and professional balance, working from a carriage house on an old country estate in Washington County. "As the company took off, I had to ask myself whether I wanted a large piece of a small pie or a small piece of a big pie."

Opting for the latter, Newton's virtual model allows the company to pass savings on to customers and profits on to employees, thereby creating a “Wal-Mart-like” low margin model that attracts and retains quality talent. With a strong team of top tier consultants, Newton serves both large and small companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Walt Disney World, UnivarUSA, and local software company, ANSYS

“Newton is not the typical consulting company,” reflects Gregg Gantwarg, vice president of marketing communications, who worked for Newton while launching his own company, Virtual Edge, based on a virtual model. “It’s a very selfless setup. Not the typical corporate line.”

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.


Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Rick Newton, Gregg Gantwarg, Newton Consulting

Image courtesy Newton Consulting
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