Welcome to our weekly roundup of Pittsburgh technology news. Tech writer David Radin is traveling, but here’s a quick rundown of news bubbling this week. Radin will return to his regular column next week. Meanwhile, got tech news? Email us. And check back every Thursday afternoon for more.
Innovation Works and CMU hold venture fair for local AI and robotics startups
Yesterday at Pittsburgh’s first “venture fair,” Innovation Works and CMU brought in nearly 150 investors (including 40 venture capital firms) to hear pitches from approximately 20 local startups. VentureBeat reports that participating firms included Eniac Ventures, which closed a $100 million fund for robotics startups last year, Chicago-based Hyde Park Venture Partners and TDF Ventures, an early-stage VC fund with offices in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley.
Innovation Works itself has made about 300 seed investments in startups, and CEO Rich Lunak told VentureBeat that a growing number of out-of-town investors are realizing how much is happening in Pittsburgh and becoming more interested in investing in startups based here.
ZipRecruiter says Pittsburgh among best-paying cities for software engineers
Median salary and cost of living data from ZipRecruiter has Pittsburgh ranking seventh for real adjusted salary for software engineers, fourth best for cost of living and second in the country for software engineer job opportunities. The report shows an average salary of $79,385 and living costs nine percent below the national average.
CMU is creating its own currency
Carnegie Mellon University isn’t just teaching students to understand digital cryptocurrencies. They’re busy creating their own blockchain tech and launching a test currency called CMU Coin. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Param Vir Singh, an associate professor of business technologies at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, who explained that “this blockchain would be a fertile ground for CMU students to develop their startup ideas,” and would help experts at CMU continue their work on improving blockchain technology and the policies surrounding it.
Vir Singh and his CMU Coin co-lead, Ramayya Krishnan, dean of the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, want to demystify the currency, the Post-Gazette said. Students will compete to develop the best use cases before building out the technology. No word yet on what the market cap might be for CMU Coin or what its relationship to the U.S. dollar might be. (Also, no word on whether or not CMU students will be using it to pay their tuition one day.)
DataBank expanding their Pittsburgh Data Center
Business solutions company DataBank Ltd. plans to expand its Pittsburgh data center at Nova Place by adding 10,000 square feet of raised floor and 1.5MW of redundant power directly adjacent to their existing 10,000-square-foot site in the North Side property. Slated to be ready for service in Q4 2019, the expanded facility will be “the most connected data center location in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area,” DataBank said in a statement.
The company’s choice to expand their Pittsburgh facility “is a direct result of the rapid development the city has experienced” in autonomous vehicle tech, robotics and other emerging technologies, they said.
In a statement about the expansion, J. Ray Scott, senior manager for storage and virtualization in computing services at CMU, said that this kind of investment in critical infrastructure in the Pittsburgh area “further demonstrates the growing role of technology in our region.”
Business mag highlights Pittsburgh’s high-tech businesses and talent pipeline
Inc.com showed Pittsburgh some love in a feature story about “Why Google, Uber, and Facebook Are Flocking to This Quiet Rust Belt City.” The article praises our long list of positives, name-dropping big and small tech companies operating here and advising cool kids to hang out at the Ace Hotel. They also pointed out a few challenges: “Direct flights to the West Coast are rare, which deters some key venture capitalists from making the schlep.” They also mention a lack of angel investing. Will Innovation Works and CMU’s venture fair last night spark an end to that problem?