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Allegheny

PGH Lab announces third cohort of startup partnerships

Jamie Martines
| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 1:09 p.m.
The second Trashbot is showed being constructed inside of AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The second Trashbot is showed being constructed inside of AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Innovations in workplace communication, recycling, translation services and internet access could soon be coming to the City of Pittsburgh as startups team up with local government authorities and agencies to test new products and services.

The office of Mayor Bill Peduto announced Wednesday that eight startups will join the third cohort of PGH Lab. The first PGH Lab cycle ran in 2016. The second cycle was launched in June 2017.

PGH Lab connects local startup companies with local government authorities and agencies to test products and pilot services. It's also intended to be an opportunity for those authorities and agencies to explore ways to make local government more efficient. Startups are connected with a "City Champion," a government employee, who will work with the company throughout the three to four-month pilot project.

Previous PGH Lab startup partnerships have included the Trashbot, a "smart" trashcan that uses robotics and artificial intelligence to sort recycleables from waste. Trashbot was tested in the lobby of the City-County Building on Grant Street last summer through a partnership with CleanRobotics.

The startups are also offered coworking space by the city. With the exception of overhead costs for managing the program, the city does not budget for the program, according to Annia Aleman, PGH Lab program manager.

Startups are required to submit a scope of work that includes expectations, goals and outcomes they hope to achieve throughout the pilot project, Aleman said. At the end of the pilot period, the startups will share what they learned at a community event.

A full list of startups in the cohort is available below.

For example, The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is paired with the service Qlicket, an internal communications tool designed to collect and respond to feedback from employees.

"The URA is thrilled to continue working and supporting our local startups through the PGH Lab program," Thomas Link, director of the URA Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said in a statement. "Our goal through the program has been to engage with as many startups as possible and provide them interesting case studies where both our staff and the startups gain valuable experience and access to new technologies."

The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will work with Global Wordsmiths, which provides language software services including translation, interpretation, training and consulting.

"The Housing Authority is excited to work with the startup companies," Caster D. Binion, Housing Authority executive director, said in a statement. "We look forward to collaborating to ensure all parties involved benefit from these initiatives."

PGH Lab Cohort 3 Members

Cropolis: Automates farm marketing, sales and administration to ease the purchase of healthy, local food. Matched with the Department of City Planning.

Global Wordsmith: Language translation, interpretation, training and consulting services. Matched with Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

LeanFM Technologies: Uses data integration technologies and artificial intelligence to consolidate work and cost information of buildings. Matched with the Office of Management and Budget.

Meta Mesh Wireless Communities: Nonprofit using mesh networking technology to provide low-cost public Wi-Fi. Matched with the Housing Authority of Pittsburgh.

NetBeez: Hardware and software to identify network issues before it is detected by users. Matched with the Department of Innovation and Performance.

Qlicket: Internal communications tool to gather and respond to feedback from employees. Matched with the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Steel City Soils: Explores methods for food and yard waste recycling to improve urban food growing. Matched with the Office of Environmental Services and the Forestry Division.

Zensors: Sensors and cameras that can be used to monitor or collect data about an environment. Matched with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867

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