Pitt Gets $200,000 State Grant to Help Support Oakland’s Economic Development Efforts

Issue Date: 
September 15, 2008


The University of Pittsburgh was awarded a $200,000 state grant to help launch new businesses and create jobs in the Oakland area.

The award is one of 23 Keystone Innovation Grants given to universities and colleges across the state by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The grants total $3.4 million in new state investments and were announced Sept. 5 during Collaboration 2008, a two-day seminar convened in Harrisburg by DCED.

The seminar brought together Pennsylvania’s various technology partners from the Life Sciences Greenhouses, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Keystone Innovation Zone staff and board members, and university executives. They discussed best practices, issues important for the state’s growth, and competitiveness, among other topics.

The Keystone Innovation Grant program is a companion to the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program. Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell created KIZs to align the combined resources of higher education institutions, private business, commercial lending institutions, venture capital companies, and foundations. Pitt’s KIZ comprises the Greater Oakland region.

The commonwealth funds the KIZ program through the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

DCED Secretary Dennis Yablonsky said the Keystone Innovation Grants awarded last week to universities and colleges “will be used to provide seed capital for faculty and students to aid in creating new technologies and business opportunities. Through past experience with these investments, we’ve learned that our academic institutions are a tremendous resource and can serve as a catalyst for creating new opportunities in advanced technology industries.”

Since the inception of the KIZ program in 2004, 29 zones have been established, partnering with 91 institutions of higher education, creating 2,769 jobs, and leveraging $440 million.

The grants encourage technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property between Pennsylvania’s technology-oriented businesses and entrepreneurs and KIZ-participating institutions of higher education. Specifically, the grants provide seed capital for faculty and students to conduct business plan and marketing analysis, prototyping, patent research and filing, intellectual property and licensing, and royalty agreements.

Two previous rounds of the grant program leveraged nearly $86 million through a $6.5 million investment, created 235 jobs, retained an additional 252 jobs, and created 71 start-up companies, resulting in the development of 565 new technologies and the awarding of 242 patents.

Yablonsky also announced that the State Science and Technology Institute, the national organization for technology-based economic development, has selected Pittsburgh as the host site for its 2010 annual conference. The meeting is the nation’s premier event for sharing ideas on the best ways to encourage technology-based economic development and fostering regional prosperity in a global economy. DCED’s deputy secretary for technology investment, Rebecca Bagley, was appointed recently to the State Science and Technology Institute’s board of trustees.