In an article for Network World, Linda Musthaler begins by comparing Pittsburgh to Silicon Valley.

“If you think Silicon Valley has a lock on all things technology, think again. Pittsburgh is nurturing and growing a new generation of technology innovators.”

Musthaler goes on to describe how Pittsburgh has changed in the 33 years she’s lived in Texas: the riverfronts no longer house exhausted mills, old factories aren’t simply sitting waiting to be demolished. Musthaler makes note of the many organizations that have risen to fill the voids left by Pittsburgh’s big business of the 70s and 80s.

“The river banks that were once home to Pittsburgh’s mammoth steel mills have been cleared out, cleaned up and turned over to gleaming new buildings housing organizations like the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) and the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Entertainment Technology Center. A long-shuttered 100-year old Nabisco factory has been redeveloped and is now a modern technology hub occupied by Google and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Technology Development Center, and across the street, TechShop Pittsburgh. Century-old buildings in the Strip District and Station Square are now home to high tech companies that have spun out of local universities and incubators.”

And Musthaler seems quite taken with the work of our local universities. On her last visit to the city, she writes, she had the opportunity to meet with researchers at Carnegie Mellon, who were developing everything from anti-glare headlights to robotic prostheses.

Musthaler also makes note of CMU’s ability to initiate startups outside of university walls. “ I met with several companies that were spin-offs from CMU research. Deeplocal calls itself an innovation studio that often incorporates technology into advertising experiences,” she says. She also mentions RE2, Inc., which is developing robotic arms that can assist in situations too dangerous or strenuous for human beings (such as “cutting live wires of improvised explosive devices in war zones”). 

Expanding beyond Pittsburgh’s universities, Musthaler praises such companies as InnovationWorks and its spin-offs, AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear. Companies such as these allow for money to be invested directly into Pittsburgh’s tech economy, and for investors to see direct results of their funding. Companies like 4moms, NetBeez, and Sole Power have all achieved success through the accelerator company.

It all seems to be tied together, she says, by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, a 1300-member community that stands as the “largest regional IT trade association in the nation.”

“In short, Pittsburgh has become the cool place to launch and grow a high tech company — and it’s much cheaper to live and work in western Pennsylvania than in Silicon Valley,” she says. 

Read the full article here.