Pittsburgh featured as an “innovation city” in Brookings report

Kailey Love | Photo Editor
Pittsburgh was honored for being an innovation and technological improvement hub.
Kailey Love | Photo Editor
Pittsburgh was honored for being an innovation and technological improvement hub.

Alex Wolfe | Staff Writer


It seems like Pittsburgh is becoming more and more of a popular place to work, according to a report published by the Brookings Institute. Brookings named Pittsburgh as a ‘Global Innovation City,’ and includes many suggestions. The 75-page report comes with a detailed list of recommendations for what Pittsburgh needs to do in order to maintain its status as a rising hub of innovation.

The Pittsburgh region already spends 2.5 times the national average on university research and development, but that will have to increase further to keep up with other cities in the global economy, according to Cato Institute, a renowned public policy research group.

Brookings recommends what it calls “innovation clusters” in “advanced manufacturing, life sciences and autonomous systems,” and while other Pittsburgh strengths include corporate development and financial technology, the report describes these three areas of innovation are Pittsburgh’s most dynamic fields of investment.

However, these innovation clusters need to be managed, and for that, the Brookings report prescribes the launch of a partnership known as ‘InnovationPGH.’

While some of these developments are well-established, the progress bears a second look now that major international think tanks like The Brookings Institute takes notice. This distinction is not lost on Bill Generett, Vice President for Community Engagement at Duquesne, who says the report excites him.

“Pittsburgh has the potential to create a new and different model for one – [a model] that has wide and far-reaching positive benefits for all people that live in our community,” he explained.

The administration has been hard at work, with President Gormley spearheading a new plan for university involvement in a new “innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” which, Generett explained, was one of the reasons he was hired.

At Duquesne, students may not be aware of the city’s developments, but according to freshman marketing major Troy Smajda, the business school is getting into these innovation hubs in a big way.

“Every freshman business student has to take a class called ‘First Year Innovation Experience,’’ Smajda explained, “And the program is mostly focused on the development of innovation hubs.”

Not only has the business school required the class, but it is also built around a larger competition to develop a successful plan for the creation of a Pittsburgh innovation hub in Uptown, with the winner being awarded a scholarship.

The business school also runs the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) which provides support services to a variety of businesses throughout the region, and was was deeply involved in the founding of Urban Innovation21, another urban development group, headed by Generett.