Bill Flanagan

Steve Sokol, president of World Affairs Council-Pittsburgh, speaks at the One Young World news conference on Oct. 11, 2012
During a news conference yesterday at Pittsburgh’s City-County Building, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl began rolling out the red carpet – along with dozens of partner organizations and hundreds of volunteers – for more than one thousand young people from around the world, who will be traveling to our region next week for One Young World, a global summit.

Now in its third year, the summit has been called the “Young Davos” for bringing together young people to discuss important global issues, the challenges they face in their own countries, and potential solutions. Steve Sokol, president of World Affairs Council-Pittsburgh, which spearheaded formation of the Pittsburgh One Young World Partnership, announced that Saturday, October 20th the delegates will fan out across Pittsburgh for breakout sessions and community dinners, giving them a literal taste of Pittsburgh.

Our region’s twenty-somethings are invited to meet them Friday night, October 19th, during a gallery crawl being organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.  Find out more at

Phil Cynar

They built them – innovative and creative biological systems to improve medicine, energy, the environment and more. Even more impressive, the systems are student-created and built at the most diminutive of levels, the molecular level.

On Oct. 13 and 14, these bioengineering wonders will be showcased  and judged at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Americas East regional competition – or jamboree, as it’s known – on the campus of Duquesne University.

The largest synthetic biology competition, iGEM is global and attracts 190 collegiate teams encompassing nearly 3,000 students from more than 30 countries. In Pittsburgh, 275 undergraduate students from the U.S. and Canada – accounting for 40 teams – will share biological systems developed over the summer using engineering principles, standard molecular biology techniques and a bit of bacteria. Previous teams have created probiotic foods for gluten intolerance, new strategies for cancer drugs, advanced biofuels and remediation of toxic waste – to name a few examples. The 2012 teams’ creations will be revealed and judged, and the winning team will advance to the iGEM global finals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this November. Among the competitors are teams from both Carnegie Mellon Universityand Penn State.

Why do these microscopic marvels matter? Well, this is a century of biology – some, including President Obama, say – much as the 20th century was an age of technology. Synthetic biology enables revolutionary advances that can allow people to live better and to better interact with their world. It’s a fairly new field that’s quickly being recognized as a “prominent emerging technology,” and it’s an industry that will be shaped by today’s youth. As Tom Richard, a professor of biological engineering at Penn State and of the Pittsburgh iGEM jamboree organizers, says, “The iGEM competition and the alumni community it forms are the primary sources of synthetic biologists who will impact the industry.”

Their impact is bound to touch the lives of ordinary people, like you and me. We’ll live better and be healthier because of synthetic biology.

Interestingly, synthetic biology has Pittsburgh roots in Herbert Boyer – born in Westmoreland County and schooled at both St. Vincent College and Pitt. Dr. Boyer is a co-founder of Genentech the first company to commercialize recombinant DNA technology, the foundation of the synthetic biology field.

“Dr. Boyer must be proud that his native Pittsburgh region – once a world capital of steel manufacturing and industry – is now capital of knowledge where health care and life sciences is the fourth largest industry sector, in terms of gross regional product,” said Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky, who in 2000 founded the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse – an incubator focused on growing the region’s biosciences companies.

What better place than Pittsburgh for the revelation of new synthetic biology advances at this weekend’s iGEM jamboree?  We’ll look forward to seeing what the mastermind competitors have created almost as much as we’re anticipating presenting Pittsburgh a possible place for these young women and men to advance a world-class education and grow an exciting career in our life sciences sector.

Ben Kamber

It’s round two of the “Business Bout” and this time the prize is seriously bountiful.

What began last year as a project of several young Pittsburghers, the “Business Bout” business plan competition has blossomed into a $25,000 funding opportunity for the next great idea in our region. Any entrepreneur across all industries is eligible to compete as long as your business currently brings in less than $1 million in revenue. All that’s needed is a two-page submission outlining your plan and the people moving it forward. Oct. 31 is the deadline for submissions, which can be sent to

But the deal gets even better. Thanks to a $750,000 grant from an anonymous donor, the “Business Bout” is launching a 5,000-square-foot incubator in East Liberty. Called the “Hustle Den,” the space will offer the top 40 “Business Bout” entrepreneurs a place to call their own. This is an incredible opportunity for any up-and-comers who hunger to get their idea off the ground and perhaps make it big. Once you send in your “Business Bout” submission, you’re in the running to snag some space at the “Hustle Den.”

College Prowler’s Luke Skurman, one of the founders of the “Business Bout” and the “Hustle Den,” appeared on WPXI’s Our Region’s Business. Check out his interview below and head over to for more information on how to enter the competition.

Cassie Buseck
Buy Pittsburgh First Founder Chantel Goldstrohm.
(Photo Courtesy Pittsburgh Business Times)

There’s power in a purchase. Chantel Goldstrohm urges you to use it wisely.

Goldstrohm is the founder of BuyPittsburgh First, an organization working to connect local industrial suppliers and service providers with other businesses in the region. The goal, she recently explained on WPXI-TV’s Our Region’s Business, (see video here or below) is to keep B2B dollars in the Pittsburgh region, helping individual companies to thrive and spurring overall economic development.

Buy Pittsburgh First is hosting an expo on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the carpenters union’s training center in Robinson Township. The free event will offer participants opportunities to connect in a tradeshow setting. Sustainability Strategist, Scott Zintz will speak at 11:30 a.m.

Buy Pittsburgh First is supported by the Pittsburgh Impact Initiative. That’s an effort by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance to help a unique subset of high-growth firms to thrive. Research indicates such companies are helping create 60-80 percent of all new jobs in the Pittsburgh region, job creation which is helping to bolster the overall economy.

You can register for the expo here.

Bonnie Pfister

It’s less than two weeks until more than 1,000 emerging leaders from around the world gather in Pittsburgh for the first One Young World summit to hit U.S. shores. Ages 18 through 30, these delegates will spend Oct. 18-22 tackling issues around education, public health and the role that businesses can play in fostering sustainable development and social justice.

Designed for OYW 2012 by Pittsburgh-educated Burton Morris

As the region gears up to host these guests, it’s worth remembering that Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center has already hosted more than 10,000 bright young people from around the globe in 2012. That includes more than 8,500 engineers and student members of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the world’s largest pre-college science research competition.

That gathering, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), showcased cutting-edge research and inventions by more than 1,500 students from 70 countries. Among those who earned a place at the competition were seven Pittsburgh area students. ImaginePittsburghNow caught up with four of them during the fair. You can watch video interviews here or below with Natalie Nash of Vincentian Academy in the North Hills, Chareeni Kurukulasuriya of Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill, Robert Vaerewyck of St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights, and Andrew Lingenfelter of Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Harmony.

It’s not just young visitors who are finding their way here. Increasingly educated newcomers – and boomerangers — in their 20s and 30s are building their careers, making their homes and building their lives in what used to be one of the oldest population centers in America. Pittsburgh has jobs, and is a place big enough to have fun, but small enough to be affordable and to allow you to feel like you’re making a difference  – in innovation, business, research, the arts and more. To stay abreast of what’s happening, sign up to get our blogposts directly into your email via RSS feed, find us at and follow us on

Natalie Nash of Vincentian Academy in the North Hills


Andrew Lingenfelter of Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Harmony


Chareeni Kurukulasuriya of Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill


Robert Vaerewyck of St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights


Spied recently at the Learning Express in Cranberry: Good Night, Pittsburgh.

Riffing on – but apparently not affiliated with – the wildly popular Goodnight, Moon, it is one in a series of children’s board books heralding places across North America in hopes of “instilling an early appreciation for the continent’s natural and cultural wonders… starring a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions and rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.”

Others include Good Night, New York; Good Night, New Orleans and – in Spanish – Buenas Noches, Estados Unidos.

Featured in Good Night, Pittsburgh are dreamy depictions of our region’s three rivers, parks, museums, zoo, aviary, sports teams, Cathedral of Learning and the Pitt Panther.

Check it out, young Pittsburghers!