Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Pittsburgh, PA


Pittsburgh, aka the Steel City, is the is the second largest city in Pennsylvania and is an up and coming tech hub to watch in the U.S.

Pittsburgh, PA is known as the “Steel City” due to the presence and importance of its many steel companies. The second-largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is also home to a number of well-known companies outside of the steel industry, with Heinz being perhaps the most famous.

The city is also establishing itself as a good place for small business and entrepreneurship: in December 2017, VentureBeat listed Pittsburgh as one of “4 U.S. tech hubs to watch in 2018.” As for 2018, the city found itself on two lists of entrepreneurship rankings: 39th in FitSmallBusiness.com’s list of the most entrepreneurial cities and 169th on WalletHub’s rankings of the best large cities to start a small business, but with a ranking of 35th in the “access to resources” category. WalletHub also ranked Pittsburgh as the third-best metro area for STEM professionals. Finally, the Kauffman Foundation ranked Pittsburgh’s metropolitan area as the nation’s best in terms of established small business and 23rd in entrepreneurial growth.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Pittsburgh is home to one of many branches of Girl Develop It, an organization that educates and supports women interested in technology and development.

One of the largest business networking groups in the country, Network After Work has a Pittsburgh branch that meets at least once per month.

With networking lunches scheduled every month, this group helps business owners and entrepreneurs meet one another and make connections.

With several branches around the Pittsburgh area, Pittsburgh Women’s Mastermind is a group dedicated to supporting women in entrepreneurship.

Pittsburgh Young Entrepreneurs is both a professional and social networking group for entrepreneurial-minded people in their 20s and 30s.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Held every year at Duquesne University, the Entrepreneur’s Growth & Networking Conference is one of the state’s largest and premier networking events.

Pittsburgh TechFest is an annual one-day event during which area professionals in software development gather.

Held by the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute, Startup Smash is an event celebrating student entrepreneurship.

Techstars organizes annual startup weekends in Pittsburgh, a collection of speakers, programs and events celebrating entrepreneurship.


Startup Competitions:

The McGinnis Venture Competition is a schoolwide competition for both graduate and undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute organizes a number of competitions with different themes, goals, and prizes.

UpPrize hosts two competitions in which for-profit and non-profit companies and startups alike compete to create positive social change.


Co-working Spaces:

In addition to 50,000 square feet of office space available, Alloy26 offers other resources and forms of support to help its entrepreneurial members.

With several locations around the Pittsburgh area and one in Cleveland, OH, Beauty Shoppe provides co-working and office space with a variety of price levels.

CatapultPGH is a co-working space with flexible membership plans and a number of perks that charges membership fees on an honor system.

Stack offers shared workspace for rent and a number of amenities, including a rotating selection of coffee and “escape pods” to have a break from work.


Maker spaces:

HackPittsburgh is a workshop with a wide variety of tools and equipment and hosts regular events open to the public, generally for free.

Students at the University of Pittsburgh have access to a number of resources through several workshops and labs.

Protohaven is a large maker space with office space, classrooms, conference rooms, and a variety of tools and equipment available.

Launched in early 2017, Prototype is a feminist maker space dedicated to building gender and racial equality in technology and entrepreneurship.



Ascender offers co-working space and helpful programs as well as a dedicated incubator program to grow startups and small businesses.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Olympus Incubator program helps support entrepreneurship by students, faculty, and staff at the university.

The Riverside Center for Innovation provides a number of incubation programs and services to help support entrepreneurship in the area.

With a location in Miami as well as one in Pittsburgh, SteelBridge Labs is an incubator program that works with early-stage FinTech startups.

Work Hard Pittsburgh connects entrepreneurs with working space, training, support, and access to capital through its incubator program.



A 4-month accelerator program that helps grow promising software companies through its program and funding.

This accelerator also runs a 36-week accelerator program for hardware startups, with two separate modules and several resources available to its members.

One of the world’s premier pre-seed stage technology accelerator programs, Founder Institute has a location in Pittsburgh.

Idea Foundry has an accelerator program and an entrepreneurship fellowship to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the area.


Colleges / Universities:

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University offers a minor and graduate programs in entrepreneurship as well as resources outside of the classroom.

In addition to offering an entrepreneurship major and minor, Duquesne has a Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship that organizes helpful resources for student entrepreneurs.

Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence hosts a number of programs and resources to support entrepreneurship both at the university and in the community as a whole.


Angel Groups / VCs:

Founded in 1994, Adams Capital Management is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage applied technology companies.

BlueTree Allied Angels is an angel group that invests in high-potential early-stage companies headquartered within 250 miles of Pittsburgh.

With the goal of helping Pittsburgh reinvent itself as a dynamic technology hub, Draper Triangle provides venture capital to disruptive technology startups in their early stages.

Pittsburgh is home to one of many worldwide branches of the Keiretsu Forum, a large network of early-stage angel investors.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Crain’s Pittsburgh, a website covering business news in the Pittsburgh area, offers a newsletter with the most important headlines.

The Pittsburgh edition of the Business Journal offers several newsletters covering business and entrepreneurship news in the area.

Among the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s newsletter offerings are one focusing on business and one focused on the city’s emerging technology scene.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Pittsburgh not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeSeattle, WARochester, NY

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.