I attended the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s breakfast briefing this morning and heard a great presentation by Jeffrey Hennion, President of Pittsburgh based Branding Brand: http://www.brandingbrand.com/ Founded by 3 CMU students, the company is now an industry leader in Mobile Commerce website and application development. They serve some of the largest retailers and businesses who are now true believers in the power of mobile commerce and mobile wallet apps – shopping from a phone. Costco (See Image below), Dicks Sporting Goods, Sephora, Ralph Lauren and countless more retailers have large percentages of sales now flowing through Branding Brand platforms. Starbucks is currently the leader in mobile commerce sales with its QR code based “mobile wallet”, which allows purchases from a scan of your phone screen. A next big market for these products is the travel industry. As you ride from the airport to the hotel, you use your phone to check into the hotel, you skip the registration desk, open your room with your phone which has been activated with a mobile key. As Jeff described it – these developments are fascinating, but sometimes a little creepy. The percentage of phone driven ordering, and mobile wallet purchased sales is zooming upward and some companies could face loss of significant market share if they don’t keep up.
I take no credit for this post. We have been linking to a great site “Pittsblog” authored by Michael Madison, a UPitt Law Professor. He has published a series of great articles on “Open Innovation” in Pittsburgh and his latest is a good read. Check it out: http://pittsblog.blogspot.com/
A new report paints Pittsburgh in glowing colors for the availability of high-tech jobs. The Pittsburgh Business Times (Citing a Dice.com study) reports that Pittsburgh saw an increase of 45% in technology jobs over the past year, and that many tech jobs are still to be filled. The top three areas for tech jobs remain Washington DC, New York/New Jersey and Silicon Valley. Seattle, Detroit and Pittsburgh saw some very high growth in 2010 and are moving up on the ladder of total tech jobs. You’ve gotta give the ‘burgh credit for leveling the rusted steel mills, building high-tech centers and incubators on the vacated slabs, and making the most from the tech transfer operations at Pitt, CMU and Duquesne Universities. The Times suggests that the job board at the Pittsburgh Technology Council is brimming with tech jobs. I had business visitors in from out of town today and as usual, the remarks were aimed at how wonderful this city looks. This tech growth is a big factor in the feel of the city. As my teenage son says, “it’s all good.”*
*OK – I confess – like most of what a teenagers says, that probably isn’t all true. However, a lot in the Pittsburgh tech community is “all good”.
The Pittsburgh technology community continues to grow and prosper. Old steel mill slabs are now covered with high-tech facilities and incubators. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pumped some new money into the Pittsburgh economy with 3 funding awards approved and administered by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners http://benfranklin.org/ (BFTP), a long time Pennsylvania authority which places state funding money with deserving partners. Through a competitive process, the following Pittsburgh based awards were approved by BFPT:
$100,000 for Idea Foundry for a technology development grant to help entrepreneurs in information technology or related engineering field create a business. With this funding, the nonprofit organization, which offers market analysis, product management, management team development and other services, is expected to spin out five new companies.
$450,000 for the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center for a university research commercialization grant aimed at developing an industry and university network for building the state’s energy sector.
$600,000 for the University of Pittsburgh for a university research commercialization grant for an electric power and energy research project aimed at items such as power electronics, renewable energy and smart grid technology.
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