The end of the month often means things coming to a close. This April, however, the month’s last week marks a new beginning for the Pittsburgh innovation community.
From April 24 to May 1, the inaugural year of the XchangePgh series continues with XchangeInnovation Week, which cofounder Kit Mueller says will be a chance for the regional community to grow, connect and come up with new ideas. This week of events follows XchangeIdeas, a weekend-long hackathon held in March, and precedes the XchangeValue Conference in October and the XchangeAwards 2023 celebration in November.
“We will have north of 60 events across the city over seven days,” the longtime connector told Technical.ly about Innovation Week. “And they’re meant to both have frank discussions about some of the challenges in our ecosystem, celebrate the people that are building the things and making our innovation as accessible and impactful as it possibly can be, and convening people, and including more voices in the innovation ecosystem.”
Starting Monday the 24th, XchangePgh will convene Pittsburghers through events ranging from a lip-syncing contest (host: Trace Brewing) to tech happy hours (like The Salon Pgh’s Fempreneur meetup) to panel discussions on life sciences (hi, BioBreakfast). The week kicks off with a LifeX-led healthtech startups showcase and ends with the annual AI & Robotics Venture Fair hosted by Innovation Works and Carnegie Mellon University.
The series is designed to be for the community, by the community, and offer a bit of something for everyone, said Mueller, who is co-organizing the series with Adam Paulisick. The hope is that the events hosted will help attendees discover how to make the city a better place to create things whilst becoming more inclusive — something a number of other Pittsburgh tech stakeholders have called out, too.
“The fundamental assumption is we’re amazing at building things in this region,” Mueller said. (Steel, coal — you get it.) “It’s our legacy, we built America. [But] how we’re going to get better is by including more voices in that building, in that process, from the get-go.”
“We have a very unique city that if you raise your hand and do good work, the region rallies.”Kit Mueller XchangePgh
The organizers have been consciously trying to eliminate the barriers that can keep interested people from showing up. Most of the xChangeInnovation events are free, but for events that come with a price tag, there are scholarship options available for those in need.
“If there are challenges to getting this, whether it’s bus passes, or even [money], we’re offering some scholarships to some of the workshop sessions,” Mueller said. “We want to make sure that this is a really interesting moment, where we all join together.”
Mueller hopes for XchangeInnovation Week to become an annual event. For this first edition, the end goal is that by the time the series comes to a close and the last museum tours and esports tournaments have been hosted, any person who attended walks away feeling inspired and more a part of the Pittsburgh ecosystem.
“We have a very unique city that if you raise your hand and do good work, the region rallies,” he said. “And I think that we’re learning that if we’re gonna get as far as we possibly can together, then we’ve got to double down on our strengths, and I think we’re seeing that happen now.”
Learn more about the events and how to register on XchangePgh’s website.Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 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.
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