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Power Moves: Apollo Neuro taps a seasoned product leader as CTO and a growing startup gets international kudos

Check out the latest promotions, awards and hires in Pittsburgh tech.

Alan Cannistraro, Apollo Neuroscience's new CTO. (Courtesy photo)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, gig or promotion? Email us:

Apollo Neuroscience names new CTO

Medical device wearable startup Apollo Neuroscience announced that Alan Cannistraro would be the company’s new CTO. The news comes after a $15 million Series A round for the company earlier this year, and marks the beginning of team and product expansion plans its founders shared with in March.

Previously, Cannistraro worked at both Apple and Meta, and he is the creator of the first app on iOS, Remote, and of Facebook’s “Year in Review” feature, according to his LinkedIn. Most recently, Cannistraro served as the founder and CEO of social video platform Copper Studios.

A press release on his new position at Apollo noted that Cannistraro turned down several executive-level product leadership positions at companies with valuations of billions or even trillions of dollars to take the CTO position at this startup.

“I’ve been part of two rocket-ships in my career, first at Apple under Steve, and at Facebook under Zuck, and I see the same magic ingredients coming together here with Kathryn and Dave. I’m excited to be part of this again,” Cannistraro said in a statement.

Leadership Pittsburgh announces new president and CEO

Jenn Beer. (Courtesy photo)

Professional development nonprofit Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. announced last week that Jenn Beer would take over as president and CEO starting on June 13. She will succeed current CEO Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant, who first joined the organization in 2004. Previously, Beer worked for the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce as the VP of government affairs. She is also a graduate herself of the Leadership Development Initiative, one of the programs run by Leadership Pittsburgh.

“With over 3,000 graduates, LPInc.’s unique network of informed civic leaders makes a material and critical difference across organizations and sectors,” Beer said in a statement. “I have a deep appreciation for Aradhna, the programs and graduates of LPInc. programs, the Pittsburgh region and its people. I am truly honored and excited to be able to step into this role at such a strong organization at such a pivotal moment in our region.”

Pittsburgh startup AvaDynamics is a finalist in the $10 million ANA AVATAR XPRIZE

AvaDynamics, a 2018-founded Pittsburgh tech startup focused on the development of an avatar system with human-like capabilities, is one of 20 finalists in the ANA AVATAR XPRIZE, a four-year global prize centered on the development of “physical robotic avatar systems that can execute tasks and replicate a human’s senses, actions and presence to a remote location in real-time,” a press release said.

Winning teams will need to have their systems successfully complete a variety of real-world tasks and “convey a sense of presence for both the operator and the recipient in those interactions.” The grand prize winner will win $5 million, while the second and third place teams will take home $2 million and $1 million, respectively. Finals will take place in Los Angeles on Nov. 4 and 5 this year.

DisSolves takes first place at the Duquesne New Venture Challenge

Duquesne University announced the latest winners of its New Venture Challenge, which the university launched in 2019. The competition is open to any entrepreneur in the Pittsburgh community and beyond, and awards five winning teams with a total of $30,000.

Coming in first place this year was DisSolves, a startup developing an edible, water-soluble packaging material made from all-natural ingredients. DisSolves was awarded $15,000 in cash. Second place winner Advanced Optronics won $8,000, third place winner innovatIVe won $6,000, and fourth place and fifth place winners CAT-7 and SimBox won $3,000 each. Check out DisSolves’ winning pitch in the video below.

Carmell Therapeutics announces new chief business officer

Local regenerative medicine company Carmell Therapeutics announced that it appointed Sebastian “Sebby” Borriello as chief business officer for the company. Previously, Borriello worked in commercial leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson for 25 years. Most recently, he was the chief commercial officer at SK Life Sciences, where he grew business development efforts and led the launch of its first product.

“I am proud and excited to join the talented team at Carmell,” Borriello said in a statement. “Biologic development of plasma-based material is an important area that could make a significant impact in a variety of therapeutics areas such as bone and wound healing as well as some aesthetic applications.”

HM Health Solutions appoints new executives and launches new brand

HM Health Solutions, a 2014-founded health tech-focused wholly owned subsidiary of Highmark Health, announced that it would rebrand to enGen. In addition to the rebranding, the company also shared that it had added Mike Tracy as the COO and Brian Devine as CFO and SVP of finance and commercialization. Previously, Tracy was the SVP of health plan operations for Highmark, while Devine was the VP of enterprise financial strategy, planning and analysis for Highmark Health.

“enGen’s dynamic healthtech ecosystem works to bring structure, process, and simplicity to complex operational tasks for health plans and their provider partners. From technology, to people, to process, we are the engine that drives results,” commented Mick Malec, enterprise technology & operations officer and CEO of enGen, in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with Mike and Brian to bring the vision of enGen and the results we are confident we can deliver for our clients to fruition.”

Carnegie Mellon University announces latest batch of innovation scholars

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University announced a new cohort of undergraduate Innovation Scholars. The selective two-year program includes academic coursework, work experience at a startup, networking opportunities and mentorship.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of CMU-founded startups and encourage an entrepreneurial culture at the university. Innovation Scholars have a slew of added benefits, including a $1,200 grant for the group’s annual Silicon Valley Trek, special invitations to events, a stipend of up to $6,000 for those with their own startups to support 12 weeks of summer work and more.

Check out the full list of Innovation Scholars.

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.
Companies: Apollo Neuro / Highmark Health / Leadership Pittsburgh / Duquesne University / Carmell Therapeutics / Carnegie Mellon University
Series: Power Moves

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