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Lainey Yockey (left) and Sanjana Dayananda, fellows with the city’s Inclusive Innovation team, and the team’s Digital Community Specialist Todd Smith at co-working space for the PGH Lab startups. (Inclusive Innovation Photo)

PITTSBURGH — PGH Lab, a startup incubator led by the city of Pittsburgh, today announced its third class of companies.

The eight companies represent an expansion for the program, which has worked with eight startups combined in its first two classes. This year, The mayor’s office, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority are teaming up to help startups test their products in a government context.

Each startup is paired with a government employee, also known as a “city champion” who gives the companies feedback and guidance over the course of the program, which began in January and runs through May. Companies will also receive spots in local co-working spaces and access to the city’s network.

Programs like these provide a way for startups to get their products in front of a large audience for testing. The city, in turn, plays a role in bolstering the local tech scene and gets access to new technology to enhance government operations.

“For the past couple of cycles, companies have been working with us to test their new solutions to improve local government. Other cities have noticed and have implemented their own version of PGH Lab,” Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said in a statement.

This year’s crop of startups have gone through incubator programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, local incubators like AlphaLab, AlphaLab Gear and Ascender and national programs like Y Combinator. Here are the eight startups, along with the municipal organizations they will partner with for the program.

  • Cropolis provides software for farms to take care of marketing, sales and administrative tasks and gives buyers an easy way to source produce. Cropolis will be matched with the city’s Department of City Planning.
  • Global Wordsmiths call itself a “social enterprise” that provides language translation, interpretation, training, consulting services and a full-stack language access planning service. Global Wordsmiths is working with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
  • LeanFM Technologies produces building management software that uses artificial intelligence to help facility managers make data-driven decisions. Lean FM will the city’s Office of Management and Budget.
  • Meta Mesh Wireless Communities brings low-cost public WiFi to communities in Western Pennsylvania via mesh networking and teaches others about networking and Wi-Fi. The company will work with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
  • NetBeez monitors performance of networks, including remote WiFi connections and identifies network issues before it impacts users. The startup will be matched with the city’s Department of Innovation & Performance.
  • Qlicket is working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and provides internal office communication software for posing questions to employees, issuing surveys and giving feedback.
  • Steel City Soils calls itself a “compost cooperative” that sells compost online and helps urban farms with testing and improving their soil. The startup is teaming with the Office of Environmental Services and the Forestry Division of the City of Pittsburgh.
  • Zensors uses AI-powered visual sensors that can tell how many people have come through a door, or how many seats in a restaurant are occupied. Zensors is working with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.
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