The Pittsburgh Technology Council hosted its annual Tech 50 Awards earlier this month, marking the 25th anniversary of the annual celebration. As one of the largest tech community organizations in Pittsburgh, the council brings together its members with finalists for each award in a dinner and reception at the Wyndham Grand Hotel downtown overlooking Point State Park. This year, it returned to in-person once again after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a virtual gathering last year.
The Tech 50 Awards are significant because they act as a recognition of Pittsburgh’s best and brightest from a cornerstone member of the community. While some of the finalists for each award were clearly chosen because of big milestones they reached this year, others highlighted by the awards are leaders that the Pittsburgh Technology Council thinks show promise as upcoming leaders in innovation.
Here are the names of the winners and finalists for each award:
Innovator of the Year, Life Sciences: CytoAgents
CytoAgents is a recent alum of the AlphaLab Health accelerator run by Innovation Works. The biotech company specializes in developing pharmaceutical treatment for cytokine release syndrome (CRS) — sometimes referred to as the “cytokine storm” — which is the result of an overactive immune system response that can lead to serious inflammation. So far, CytoAgents has completed successful Phase I clinical trials for its lead drug candidate and is looking to move ahead to Phase II with new funding.
- Finalists: Ariel Precision Medicine, NeuEsse, Tobbi Dynavox
Innovator of the Year, Manufacturing — The Kurt J. Lesker III Award for Excellence: MSA Safety Inc.
Over a century old with more than 5,200 employees worldwide today, Cranberry Township-based MSA Safety Inc. specializes in the manufacturing of personal health and safety equipment like helmets, eye protection, hazardous material detection and more. In announcing MSA as the winner of this award, the Pittsburgh Technology Council recognized the company’s international presence and wide range of products to protect workers in all hazardous environments.
- Finalists: Eaton, Intervala, PittMoss, PPG, Safe Space Technologies
CEO of the Year: Pittsburgh Technical College President and CEO Alicia B. Harvey-Smith
Harvey-Smith took over as president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technical College in 2019, where she used her decades of experience in higher education to improve funding, enrollment and other opportunities for the nonprofit career-focused college. In recognizing Harvey-Smith for the award, the Pittsburgh Technology Council mentioned her affinity for connecting with the community beyond the school and her promise in working with both public and private partners in the city.
- Finalists: Teresa Whalen of CytoAgents, Nathan Martin of Deeplocal, David Kane of Ethical Intruder, James Gillespie of GrayMatter, Nick Bartel of Idelic, Jordan Saunders of NextLink Labs, James Haluszczak of NuMoola, Ben Wilson of Rivers Agile
Innovator of the Year, AI/ML/Robotics: Aurora
Aurora‘s win of this award was surprising to almost no one. The fast-growing autonomous vehicle company spent the past year making big company moves, from acquiring Uber‘s self-driving unit in December 2020 to announcing new industry partnerships in trucking and ride-sharing to going public at the start of this month through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.
- Finalists: Gecko Robotics, Idelic, Locomation, Motional, Roadbotics
Innovator of the Year, Consumer: Tech Elevator
This coding bootcamp and tech education company has multiple hubs across the country, but arrived in Pittsburgh only a few years ago in 2018. Though not the only bootcamp available in Pittsburgh, Tech Elevator is a popular option for those looking to transition into the tech industry as a software developer, with its educational training programs and connections to local employers for job opportunities.
- Finalists: BlastPoint, Brand Holdings, Digital Dream Labs, NuMoola
Innovator of the Year, Medtech/Health IT: TeleTracking Technologies, Inc.
TeleTracking Technologies provides a patient management platform to reduce patient wait times and improve care center efficiency. Founded three decades ago, the company now has the capability to act as a central communication platform sharing data and other relevant patient information across hospital systems involved.
- Finalists: ConnectiveRx, Data Ideology, Rimsys
Innovator of the Year, Startup Company: Seiso LLC
As an information security consulting firm, Seiso specializes in creating automated technical security solutions for its clients. By providing both guidance around how its systems work and making them simple and understandable in the documentation, Seiso provides comprehensive protection to tech companies and others that need it.
- Finalists: Confirmed LLC, ERIN, HIKE2 LLC, My BFF Social, NextLink Labs
Innovator of the Year, Nonprofit/Education/Community: Pittsburgh Technical College
Founded 75 years ago, the Pittsburgh Technical College provides career-focused academic programs in fields like trade technology, design and engineering technology, energy and electronics technology and more. The institution’s work will play a key role in ensuring that the tech industry benefits Pittsburghers of all backgrounds and skill levels moving forward.
- Finalists: 412 Food Rescue, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, Carnegie Science Center, Commonwealth Charter Academy, Schell Games
Innovator of the Year, Solutions Provider — Innovative Tech: Optimus Technologies
A fuel and energy tech company, Optimus Technologies focuses on manufacturing a system that enables larger vehicles to run fully on biodiesel, eliminating or significantly lowering their carbon emissions. Its signature product, the Vector System, is meant to help large car and truck fleets become more sustainable in the long term.
- Finalists: Aspinity, Deeplocal, GrayMatter, Hamiltonian Systems, Meter Feeder
Innovator of the Year, Solutions Provider — Services: Rivers Agile
As a technical services provider and consultant, Rivers Agile helps companies of all sizes address any market or operational needs in software. Focused on helping companies build and fulfill their business strategies as they launch a product or service, Rivers Agile helps both enhance and build technical solutions for its clients to that end.
- Finalists: Aspirant, CAI, River Point Technology, SDLC Partners, The Machine TiER1 Performance
P.S. Is there a company or person you wanted to see win this year? The Technical.ly Awards are coming up in December. Formal nominations have closed, but send us an email at email@example.com if you have someone in mind!
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-