Growth

Can Pittsburgh become a life sciences hub? Here’s a list of startup resources to make it happen

These local accelerators, networking communities and health system partnerships are helping to commercialize the medical expertise in Pittsburgh.

In the lab.

(Photo by Pexels user Chokniti Khongchum, used via a Creative Commons license)

Editor's note: New entries will be added to this list periodically.
Update: BioBreakfast's location has been updated. (10/17/21, 5:40 p.m.)
As Pittsburgh makes strides in tech sectors like robotics, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence, some are wondering what the city’s next big horizon might be. Word on the street at recent events is that it could be life sciences.

A recent public offering from a local biopharmaceutical company as well as expertise from healthcare systems like UPMC or the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has some tech industry leaders convinced that there’s strong potential for Pittsburgh to become a life sciences hub. But to get there, existing startups need to grow and attract the high investments that clinical trial work requires.

Technical.ly put together a list of the local resources trying to make that happen. From accelerators to networking communities to health system partnerships, these groups and organizations are all playing key roles in make Pittsburgh’s life sciences dream a reality. We plan to update this list throughout the month as we find more resources in our reporting, but here are a few to get started. Email pittsburgh@technical.ly with any suggestions for more.

AlphaLab Health

This healthcare and life sciences startup accelerator out of Innovation Works helps bring young companies to market over the course of a six-month program by navigating the often-complicated pathway to clinical trials and FDA approval. Like other accelerators at Innovation Works, AlphaLab Health gives founders the chance to network with each other, the community and local investors. The accelerator partners with Allegheny Health Network, too, giving entrepreneurs access to medical expertise there. Those selected for the cohort also receive up to $100,000 in early stage funding, and have the potential to become an Innovation Works portfolio company.

BioBreakfast

This breakfast series serves as a resource for those looking to network within the life sciences sector. The idea is to bring together people from the private sector, public work and academic research to build an innovation community of shared resources and mentorship. The casual breakfasts take place every Tuesday at 8 a.m. at either the Riviera Building at 350 Technology Drive near the Hot Metal Bridge or on Zoom.

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LifeX Labs

LifeX Labs operates as a support hub for life sciences companies in the area, helping them in commercialization, access to capital and corporate guidance. In doing that, LifeX Labs helps to remove some of the risk that comes with investing in the life sciences, making its portfolio companies more attractive to people like venture capitalists. Acting as an accelerator as well as a general destination for workshops, seminars, office hours and speaker series, LifeX Labs is worth getting involved with for any life sciences entrepreneur or business.

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse

Founded in 2002, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse’s goal is economic development of the medical expertise in Pittsburgh to build out the local life sciences community. With a portfolio of companies in medical devices, health IT, diagnostics and more, PLSG aims to provide the medical experts behind these businesses with executives that can advance companies to the next commercial stage for success. The organization also acts as a resource hub for those interested in the life sciences across academia, the private sector and other interested parties.

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Alliance

An initial announcement about the formation of this alliance came earlier this summer, led by the University of Pittsburgh with $1.2 million in grant funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Though the membership-based organization hasn’t fully launched yet, a Pitt representative hinted at a recent event that there will be more news on the alliance before the end of the year. Once established, the group will aim to address the strategic challenges of making Pittsburgh a life sciences hub by fostering community among nonprofits, private sector companies, public officials and more.

Women in Bio

The local chapter of this organization has the goal of promoting and supporting women working in the life sciences industry. With community events, webinars, mentorship, founder forums and more, this group aims to build a network of women across Pittsburgh companies, academia and other organizations in the life sciences.

UPMC Enterprises

Part of the larger UPMC health system, UPMC Enterprises is a program focused on support of early-stage life sciences companies, giving them access to the healthcare nonprofit’s medical expertise and clinical settings. As part of the UPMC Enterprises portfolio, companies can get direct feedback on their technology and test it with actual patients. The program focuses mainly on assisting companies in digital healthcare solutions or in translational medicine, and its current portfolio includes growing firms like Abridge and ALung Technologies.


Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 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. -30-
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