Pittsburgh turns heads globally with its innovation in information and communications technology – one of the region’s key industry sectors, which employs more than 32,000 individuals across 1,600 companies.

The Pittsburgh region’s IT prowess was on display earlier this summer to visiting national journalists from such outlets as The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report and Popular Science, for the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s annual information technology and digital innovation mixer. The event, which was hosted as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s 2013 InfoTech Media Fellowship, provided an opportunity for movers and shakers from the region’s IT scene to mingle with the visiting reporters to showcase why the region is sometimes called the “Silicon Valley of the East.”


Held at the offices of IBM in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the mixer featured a presentation from IBM’s Anthony Ciccone who spoke about how the region is becoming a major “big data” hub and why IBM decided to make a major investment in Pittsburgh with its acquisition of Vivisimo last year.

CMU Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jonathan Cagan and co-author of Creating Breakthrough Products, was also on hand to speak about what leads to successful innovation and offered his insights on what it takes to build products and services that redefine markets – or create new ones.

Concluding the program, 34-year-old mega-tech entrepreneur Luis von Ahn, creator of the ubiquitous reCaptcha, and now CEO of Duolingo – a venture that uniquely combines language learning with web page translations – talked about his achievements and the advantages of innovating in Pittsburgh.

Hear from Luis von Ahn and Jonathan Cagan in the video below about what makes Pittsburgh ripe for tech innovators and why the region’s reputation as a technology center continues to grow.

Phil Cynar

Phipps for article
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Oakland’s Schenley Park

Now online is Part 1 of a three-part series on Pittsburgh and its “green museum innovators” by suburban DC-based Roberta Faul-Zeitler, editor of the digital Green News Update.  The introduction and first installment cover the Children’s Museum, Heinz History Center and Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens – three very distinct Pittsburgh area destinations, but each embracing sustainable operations that complement the region’s leadership in the innovation and practice of intelligent building systems.  Parts II and III, coming in July and August, will cover the Natural History Museum, Carnegie Science Center, National Aviary, Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.  Faul-Zeitler visited Pittsburgh in May 2012 as a participant in a “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, VisitPittsburgh and Phipps.  The tour showcased Pittsburgh as energy provider, innovator and the Center of American Energy.

Bonnie Pfister

Jim Jen, Executive Director of AlphaLab
Jim Jen, Executive Director of AlphaLab

What kind of tech innovator chooses Pittsburgh over Silicon Valley, the ground-zero of that sector? Jim Jen, that’s who. Jen heads up AlphaLab, a startup technology accelerator that’s part of Innovation Works, one of the nation’s most active investors in seed-stage companies. Click here to find out why Jen and his family – after weighing a move to cities along the East Coast — chose Butler County’s Cranberry Township as the place to make their new home.

Jen is one of the Neighbors at, a virtual concierge that highlights work, play and live options in the 10-county region. On the site you can look for a job among the nearly 30,000 gathered by our powerful job aggregator, sign up for updates about the region through our social media channels or RRS feeds and take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz to be matched up with Neighbors who may share your interests and have tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region.

And up until Wednesday, July 31, you can vie for a chance to win a month’s free rent on an apartment in the luxurious River Vue tower, overlooking Point State Park. Check it out!

Will Bernstein
The Green Workforce Challenge is an initiative of Sustainable Pittsburgh.
The Green Workforce Challenge is an initiative of Sustainable Pittsburgh.

The Green Workplace Challenge is a great way to energize office workers throughout the Pittsburgh region to explore ways to minimize our impact on our environment. The challenge is a 12-month competition for organizations to track and measure their improvements in their use of energy, water, waste and transportation. Last year’s participants netted $4.2 million by saving enough energy to power nearly 6,000 average U.S. homes for a year, and enough water to fill Heinz Field 13 feet deep.

In this second year, the challenge has been expanded beyond businesses to allow non-profits, municipalities and higher education institutions to participate as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all workplaces in southwestern Pennsylvania to implement best practices to improve energy and water consumption, reduce waste and focus on more sustainable forms of transportation.

Here at the Allegheny Conference, we have already made the transition from disposable plates and cutlery and bottled water, and instead provide staff and visitors with plates, silverware and glasses that are washed in our office dishwashers. This year we hope to continue our efforts at becoming a greener workplace by increasing our recycling and reducing paper usage – something that’s a benefit to our environment, and also saves money. We are also proud to work in a building – 11 Stanwix St., owned by GLL Real Estate and managed by CBRE – that is working every day to improve energy efficiency and reduce water consumption. CBRE has applied to the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED-Existing Building status for our 44-year-old structure, also known as the former Westinghouse headquarters.

With the Green Workplace Challenge, individuals in working in buildings all over the Pittsburgh region have a chance to strengthen our region’s reputation as a leader in green practices and innovation.

if saving money and gaining public accolades for your organization’s green achievements wasn’t enough, sign up today for the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge (GWC) to be eligible to win prizes that not only benefit your organization/municipality but also get you ahead of the competition.

All Green Workplace Challenge participants signing up by July 31 are entered into a drawing to win a combination of the following , valued in total at approximately $1,500:

  • Energy Audit
  • Waste, Recycling, Green Procurement assessment via Pennsylvania Resources Council
  • ZipCar credit account
  • Green Energy Voucher via Community Energy
  • Bicycles for a shared office bike program
Bonnie Pfister
Nevena Staresinic, founder of Moderna Relocations
Nevena Staresinic, founder of Moderna Relocations

Nevena Staresinic is an expert when it comes to navigating new cultures and finding a way to make a new place one’s own — for herself, and for others, too.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, she has lived and worked across Europe, the U.K., southern Africa and now the United States assisting individuals, corporate clients and non-governmental organizations with international relocations through her company, Moderna Relocations. For her own part, Nevena and her family love the Pittsburgh region for its abundant outdoor recreation, solid educational choices and overall vibrancy as a place of innovation and new ideas. Watch Nevena’s video and learn more from her Neighbor profile.


Bonnie Pfister
Michele Margattai of the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania
Michele Margittai of the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania

The party-hearty South Side Flats might not sound like the ideal spot for a family of four, but Michele Margittai will tell you that her chosen neighborhood is much more than a college-student haven.

From her vital work helping the Pittsburgh region’s veterans integrate back into civilian life to the educational and recreational options for the family, the South Side Flats is an ideal live-work-play destination for the Margittais. Maybe it can be for you, too. Find out more about why Pittsburgh works for this Erie native here.

The image below is part of a mural that adorns the exterior of Michele’s workplace, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, Inc. It pays tribute to veterans of both the U.S. military and the Pittsburgh region’s steel industry, with foreground figures based on the black-and-white photography of  W. Eugene Smith. It was created by kids involved with the Moving the Lives of Kids (MLK) Community Mural Project, which during last week’s Three Rivers Regatta last week hosted painting of its upcoming “enviromural.” Several Imagine Pittsburgh neighbors joined MLK kids in painting some of the 2,400 tiles that will comprise that artwork. Learn more about that project here.

Detail from "Remembering Workers, Remembering Veterans" mural, Carson Street, South Side.
“Remembering Workers, Remembering Veterans” mural.