University of Pittsburgh takes on the human athletic performance

If you’ve ever coached a child’s team, you know that bringing out the best athletic performance can be tough. It’s difficult for professional coaches, too – and they often have more on the line. That was part of the impetus when the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute and Department of Athletics decided to work together to tackle improved human performance.

In this week’s kick-off event, called the Performance Innovation Tournament, Dr. Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research at Pitt, told attendees that “Pittsburgh can rewrite the playbook for what human performance means to the world.”

The winners of the $80,000 first prize used sensors to help coaches see how swimmers apply their strengths in the water. Though it’s not yet commercialized, they hope to apply this technology to a market that includes 500,000 swimmers in 1,000 college swimming programs.

Read more about the event and the other winners here.

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse celebrates 15 years

On Apr. 12, 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine for polio — developed at Pitt — was declared safe and effective. Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse CEO Jim Jordan chose April 12 this year to celebrate his organization’s 15th anniversary of investing in life sciences.

During these 15 years, PLSG made direct investments in 84 companies whose 146 products became commercialized and 62 went through FDA trials. Those investments have added 2,300 jobs and have helped attract $1.5 billion in additional equity investments to the region.

One successful investment ($125,000 in seed money and a total of $1.1 million): Carmell Therapeutics. Carmell found a way to polymerize rich plasma blood platelets, allowing it to be injected into humans with therapeutic effects including helping broken legs heal faster.

A million miles traversed safely for Seegrid

This week, RIDC-park based Seegrid announced that its autonomous vehicles have traveled a total of 1 million miles in real-world applications without having a safety incident — making it the first company to reach that milestone using autonomous, infrastructure-free vehicles.

Seegrid vehicles are used in often dangerous manufacturing and distribution environments. According to Jeff Christensen, Seegrid’s vice president of products, there’s a fatality every three days from forklift accidents, many caused by boredom from repetitive tasks. These are ideal places for robots, traditionally running on tracks. Seegrid removes that infrastructure requirement, using its advanced vision technology to help guide its robotics vehicles, allowing the plant operators the flexibility to change implementation as the needs of the facility change.

Christensen tells Next Pittsburgh that their million safe miles were achieved by focusing on safety and technology.  “You can’t take your eye off one,” he says, “and still accomplish the other.”