2nd 'Big Ideas' grant awarded
The McCune Foundation has given $3.5 million to Innovation Works to make sure that its impact remains long after the philanthropy is gone.
“Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, it will help fill funding gaps, ensure high-growth companies have the resources to grow and ensure our region can attract and retain the entrepreneurs and talent to fuel these companies,” said Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works, a Hazelwood-based economic development group.
The nonprofit is the second recipient of McCune's “Big Ideas” grant. Innovation Works has invested more than $52.3 million in 168 technology startups — usually in the life sciences and medical devices, robotics, advanced materials and advanced electronics fields — and provided business expertise. Its website reported that those companies have established thousands of jobs and attracted more than $1.5 billion to the region since its seed fund began in 1999.
McCune started the Big Ideas program two years ago as part of a goal to have the foundation spend down its assets by Oct. 16, 2029, when its founder, the late banker and oilman Charles L. McCune, required the foundation to go out of business.
Last year, the McCune Foundation, one of the region's biggest, gave away $26 million in 134 grants in the areas of education; health and human services; arts, humanities and religion; and civic, community and economic development.
McCune made its first Big Ideas grant of $7 million to Carnegie Mellon University. The money started the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to provide financial aid to undergraduates and graduate students and seed capital for spin-off companies that faculty and students founded.
McCune director Henry Beukema said its grant will help build a $25 million pool called Riverfront Ventures. The money is expected to establish 800 jobs and attract $200 million in capital to the region.
Lunak said Innovation Works has many potential firms to support. In 2006, about 100 entrepreneurs sought capital and technical help from Innovation Works. By 2012, the number grew to 400 entrepreneurs.
ALung Technologies Inc., a South Side developer of artificial lungs, is the first startup in which Innovation Works has invested, using $500,000 from McCune.
Pete DeComo, CEO of ALung, called the investment by Innovation Works important because money from economic development groups has dried up as they get less state money. He said the money from Innovation Works is a seal of approval for “angel” investors, wealthy people who invest in startups.
“It sends a message to angels and venture capitalists that this is a company worth looking at,” DeComo said.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mild, mainly cloudy summer has kept smog levels at bay in Western Pennsylvania
- August Wilson Center’s financial woes leave little guys in a lurch
- Despite PSU-Central Fla., Dubliners slow to embrace American football
- West Mifflin fire displaces family
- Police say Bloomfield man leashed dog with Xbox cord, injuring it
- $1.5 million Allentown church fire started by roofers, officials say
- Uber and Lyft say they’ll rely on PennDOT inspections for safety
- Carnegie on-ramp to I-376 to close Friday
- Man stabbed to death outside North Side grocery
- Allegheny County Council’s motto plan expands
- Allegheny County police union cool to park rangers plan