An Afternoon of Entrepreneurship and Innovation with PGH Lab

Annia Aleman
Sep 22, 2017 · 5 min read
PGH Lab Second Cohort

On Friday, September 15, 2017 the Office of Mayor William Peduto, the Department of Innovation & Performance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority hosted the second Inclusive Innovation Meetup celebrating the culmination of the second cycle of the PGH Lab program.

The event included remarks from: Councilman Daniel Gilman of District 8, Chief Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald-Roberts, Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Thomas Link, All Star Code, Startable Pittsburgh, and the PGH Lab companies. After the presentations, guests were able to mingle and discuss the different projects in-depth with the startup participants and city employees.

For the second meetup, the PGH Lab program partnered with local organizations Startable Pittsburgh and All Star Code. Startable Pittsburgh and All Star Code are two local programs training youth to become entrepreneurs in the maker and computer science space. Young entrepreneurs from both organizations showcased their summer projects and networked with city officials, non-profit leaders, and other stakeholders. Chief Valerie McDonald-Roberts commended these young leaders for moving this region forward in technology and creating new jobs for the future.

Startable Pittsburgh & All Star Code

The City of Pittsburgh has been working closely with the startups involved in the second cycle of the PGH Lab. Lee Haller, Director of Innovation & Performance at the City of Pittsburgh, said “It is inspiring to see the collaboration between the public and private sectors, both working together to provide feedback and find ways to improve city services. I congratulate the companies of the second PGH Lab cohort for completing their pilot projects.” Each project was tested within the local government and allowed the startups to understand what it is like to work with a large organization in the public-sector while also allowing the City of Pittsburgh and participating authorities to benefit from new and innovative technology.

Here are some of the PGH Lab highlights:

Clean Robotics worked with Kyle Winkler, Recycling Supervisor, Department of Public Works

CleanRobotics’ Trashbot powered by artificial intelligence sorts waste from recyclable materials. The company tested in the first floor of the City-County Building for a week. “During the program, we were able to learn about the business processes, manufacturing, and supply chain” said Charles Yhap, CEO and founder of CleanRobotics.

CleanRobotics team featuring Trashbot

Cognowear worked with Jennifer Wilhelm, Manager of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Urban Redevelopment Authority

aims to create intelligent attire that optimizes the wearer’s comfort. Cognowear’s first product has adaptive sensing technology that interprets the wearer’s environmental and body signals, and translates them to ensure the most comfortable temperature for the wearer. “The PGH Lab program provided feedback in real-time” said Amee Chaudry, Founder and CEO of Cognowear. During the pilot program, the company made three iterations of its smart garment.

From left to right: Amee Chaudry, CEO of Cognowear, Lili Ehrlich, Lead Engineer at Cognower, and Ali Riehle attendee

MellonHead Labs worked with Antoinette Palmieri, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA)

designs, manufactures, and distributes advanced sensors used in the measurement of water quality. The company tested its larger water sensor called “FlaminGO” at one of the PWSA water plant for 10 weeks.

Dave Speer, CEO and President of MellonHead Labs

FlyWheel worked with Columbus Brooks, Executive Human Resources Manager, Urban Redevelopment Authority

designs workplace systems that create the conditions for collaboration, creativity, and productivity, allowing small and mid-sized companies to improve their operations without sacrificing innovation. “As a result of what we’ve learned from the pilot, we are developing an internal model that informs how creative work happens in organizations” said Adam Nelson, Co-founder of FlyWheel.

Adam Nelson & Amanda Lowe Founders of FlyWheel

Kaarta worked with Mathew Jacob, Project Implementation Analyst, Department of Public Works

easily and accurately transforms the real world into actionable 3D digital models. Kaarta worked with the Department of Public Works and was able to scan three sites including an abandoned boiler plant, a City of Pittsburgh warehouse, and the City-County Building. “We were able to test and work with the technology ourselves. Sometimes we don’t get to test our own technology in different applications because we send it across the world” said Director of Engineering, Steven Huber.

Left: 3D Map of the City County Building; Right: Steven Huber, Director of Engineering at Kaarta

Watch the event on the City Channel Pittsburgh Youtube:

City Channel Pittsburgh

Join us for our next meetup!

The next Inclusive Innovation Meetup will be Wednesday, October 18th at 8:00 AM hosted by . Stay tuned and join our meetup group for .


brings local entrepreneurs to beta test products and services in local government for 3–4 months. Get inspired to start working on your own innovative ideas. Ask questions about PGH Lab on Twitter

Department of Innovation & Performance

The Department of Innovation & Performance is building a 21st-century government for the City of Pittsburgh and its residents.

Annia Aleman

Written by

Nicaraguan-American. Innovation Director @Ascenderpgh , former Sr. Civic Innovation @CityPGH . @pittsburgh_cm enthusiast.

Department of Innovation & Performance

The Department of Innovation & Performance is building a 21st-century government for the City of Pittsburgh and its residents.

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