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Meet the 7 startups that make up PGH Lab’s eighth cohort

The selected companies focus on clean air, combating food insecurity and drone tech education for communities of color.

The startup Pittsburgh Drone Services is in the latest PGH Lab cohort. (Photo by Pexels user Pok Rie via a Creative Commons license)
The City of Pittsburgh has chosen a new PGH Lab cohort to go with the new year.

When spoke with Director of Innovation & Performance Director Heidi Norman at the end of 2022, she shared that in the new year, the department would use its new $18.9 million budget for a host of initiatives ranging from improving outdated softwares to overhauling the city’s internal network to better supporting other departments’ requests for technical services. Today, the City announced that first out of the gate for I&P is welcoming its newest group of startups for PGH Lab.

The program is a City-run accelerator that connects local startups with local government and associated authorities to test new products and services. The program provides participants with the opportunity to make connections with city gov that develop into relationships that are beneficial in the long-term. Notable alumni include CleanRobotics, Honeycomb Credit, and Community Internet Solutions (fka Meta Mesh Wireless Communities).

“PGH Lab has evolved over time, and it’s a really great opportunity particularly for entrepreneurs who are generally underrepresented in that marketplace to receive mentorship,” Norman told in December. “We hope that in the end that they are able to establish an ongoing working relationship with the city government or the entity that they were working with during the cohort.”

Its eighth cohort includes startups that focus on areas such as combating food insecurity, air quality detectors and drone tech. Here are the seven participants chosen from a group of 17 applicants, as described by the City:

  • Green Bean — A platform that provides employers tools to offer stipends, discounts and policy support for employees who make energy-related purchases such as solar panels, efficient HVAC systems, heat pumps and electric vehicles. Green Bean will be partnered with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
  • Roto Software — A platform that enables users to post when free or extra food is available for pickup by the public. Roto Software will be partnered with the Department of City Planning, Sustainability and Resilience Division.
  • Element Exo, Inc. — A patented lower back lift assist exoskeleton that assists users with tasks that require bending and lifting. Element Exo, Inc. will be partnered with the Department of Public Works.
  • Poly Platform — A platform designed to make government more accessible to all levels of the socioeconomic divide by providing a more integrated and user-friendly platform for all residents to use. Poly Platform will be partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
  • Ecotone Renewables — A system designed to help rehabilitate Pittsburgh soil and reduce food waste by adding nutrients from repurposed food waste while reducing water and air pollution. Ecotone Renewables will be partnered with the Department of City Planning, Sustainability and Resilience Division.
  • Pittsburgh Drone Services — A service that provides drone training for communities of color and educates the public on drone technology. Pittsburgh Drone Services will be partnered with the Department of Permits, Licenses & Inspections and Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.
  • Airviz Inc. — A device that works to detect, understand and improve air quality in Pittsburgh. Airviz Inc. will be partnered with the Office of Sustainability and Department of Public Works.

PGH Lab’s seventh cohort in 2022 included the likes of Dashcam for your Bike (fka Robot Armin), Farm to Flame Energy and Kloopify.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: City of Pittsburgh

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