Celebrating growth and innovation in the Pittsburgh region’s technology industry for two decades, the Pittsburgh Technology Council's Tech 50 Awards announced the 2016 winners across nine categories on Nov. 3.
More than 700 industry executives and stakeholders celebrated both the winners and finalists at the Tech 50 awards, which represent transformative technology centers of excellence with tech companies at all stages of growth. Tech 50 also recognizes the region's top tech CEOs.
The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 awards program honors southwestern Pennsylvania’s fastest moving and most innovative technology companies. The awards represent transformative technology centers of excellence featuring tech companies at all stages of growth.
Duolingo is the most downloaded educational app in the world, with more than 120 million users accessing its information designed to provide free language education to people all over the globe. “Duolingo is used both by students in developing countries, and by the richest man in the world, a testament to our mission of promoting educational equality for all,” said CEO Luis von Ahn.
Duolingo recently prioritized the creation of courses that teach Swedish, French, and German to Arabic speakers as a way to help address the Syrian refugee crisis. Cumulatively, those courses have 200,000 learners today, while the English course for Arabic speakers as 4 million learners. Also, Duolingo for Schools, a platform created with a focus on schools, has already been adopted by more than 100,000 teachers, as well as the New York Department of Education and Columbia’s Ministry of Education. With fewer than 50 employees, Duolingo reached 100 million users, within four years of its founding – a landmark in personalized educational technology.
YinzCam designs and develops the official mobile apps for more than 140 sports teams, leagues, and stadiums in the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and numerous international venues. It offers unique in-stadium live mobile streaming at scale, automated instant replays from multiple camera angles, and data-driven fan messaging. “YinzCam was on the world’s largest sports stages for three major leagues; no other company has done this within the same year,” said CEO Priya Narasimhan.
In 2016, the NBA became an equity stakeholder in YinzCam, helping to grow the business and its international footprint. It also permitted YinzCam to use the NBA designation to legitimize the league’s opinion of the company’s innovation and platform. As YinzCam generates revenue from sources around the world, it flows into Pittsburgh to create an increasing number of full-time jobs in the local economy, with new hires coming from area universities like Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. This helps to keep high-caliber talent, educated locally, in this region.
Author, teacher, CEO, speaker, husband, father, employer, and creator – these are just some of the hats Jesse Schell wears each day, bringing his own style and character to each, while motivating and inspiring others. He has built Schell Games on his own terms, using his own funds, and instilling in it heartfelt values that put people and creativity first.
Schell’s dedication to his company has not only won the hearts of his team, it also has earned him accolades from the business community. He was named to the Pittsburgh Smart 50 List in 2014 and 2015, and one of the 50 most powerful people in Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Magazine in 2015. Also last year, the Carnegie Science Awards chose Schell as its Entrepreneur of the Year, along with honors as Most Admired CEO as named by the Pittsburgh Business Times. In 2016, he was chosen as Creator of the Year at the CREATE Festival, as well.
For the past 25 years, TeleTracking Technologies, the world leader in patient flow, has helped health systems achieve a timely, integrated experience for patients and caregivers across the care continuum, delivering repeatable and sustainable outcomes for some of the world’s largest health care systems. “TeleTracking focuses on giving patients access to the level of care they need where and when they need it,” said CEO Michael Zamagias.
In late 2015, The RAND Corporation published a study on the positive outcomes realized by Central Florida’s Health First after implementing TeleTracking patient flow solutions. The specific gains in efficiency over the three years of performance reviewed in that study included a decrease in the mean patient length of stay by 19%, a reduction in the time it took patients to move from the emergency room to a hospital bed by more than one-third, and creation of a 27% increase in total system admissions.
Peptilogics has developed a new class of antibiotics that address the global epidemic of multi-drug resistant bacteria, thereby addressing the issue of bacterial infections that have grown resistant to available antibiotics. “We have a novel discovery platform that leverages active learning to more efficiently develop an entirely new class of drugs – short peptides,” said CEO Jonathan Steckbeck. The company’s first-in-class antibiotic rapidly kills multi-drug resistant bacteria, as well as biofilms that harbor infection reservoirs and cause recurrent infections – both of which are of significant growing concern globally. There is great market demand for treatment options, as antibiotics are losing their effectiveness as the drug of last resort. The Peptilogics technology also is highly effective against viruses, a feature that has never been seen before in a molecule or class of molecules. Infections acquired in hospitals have negative economic impact, erode patient confidence, and can damage an organization’s reputation, making the Peptilogics innovations of great interest to health care providers.
ANSYS is the global leader in engineering simulation, helping the world’s most innovative companies deliver radically better products through offering the best and broadest portfolio of engineering simulation software. “We help our clients solve the most complex design challenges and engineer products limited only by imagination,” said CEO Jim Cashman.
ANSYS 17.0, released in early 2016, is the most comprehensive and feature-rich enhancement to the entire product portfolio in the company’s 45-year history. When ANSYS teams set out to develop this release, they challenged themselves to improve customer product development processes by a full order of magnitude, in other words, by an order of 10. The company succeeded in reaching this goal, as ANSYS 17.0 offers customers 10 times the performance, insight, and productivity that had been possible before. As proof, the new software has reduced the simulation time of electric motors from 11 days to 12 hours, and reduced set-up time for complex fluid models by between 40% and 80%.
Advantech U.S. Inc. is an advanced manufacturer developing and deploying a disruptive additive manufacturing process for producing micron-sealed electronics and devices, in pursuit of its mission to be a world leader in additive manufacturing. “This process has shown significant application potential for the fabrication of OLED display front panels, chip packaging, and microelectronic devices and circuitry,” said CEO Whitten Little.
In 2016, Advantech U.S. Inc. established a service center in China to manufacture masks and mount them to assemblies used by the major OLED mobile display companies there. Advantech is selling equipment, materials, and services into China to support this effort. The company also has successfully redeployed its process to open a new market in printed circuits. It effectively bridges the technology gap between traditional circuit boards and high-end semiconductors by printing micron-scale electronic devices inside the circuit board itself, thereby reducing the space needed for current electronic devices.
Summa is a digital solutions consultancy that combines its human-centered design, strategy, and agile software development capabilities to power businesses and deliver engaging customer experiences. “Our strategic partnerships with technology leaders like Salesforce and IBM, along with deep technical expertise, allow us to employ the latest approaches to build the right solutions for our clients,” said Audrey Dunning, CEO.
Summa leads the way in positioning its customers for the digital transformation wave through a unique mix of outlooks and skills. It works to achieve an in-depth understanding of the customer’s business – not just the technology being used. Using strategic relationships with leading technology providers and an exceptional team of employees dedicated to customer success, Summa innovates to create positive outcomes for customers, the best reflection of the company’s value. The Summa Cares initiative enables employees to volunteer time and talent to local charities and organizations that address issues such as hunger, housing, and education.
TiER1 Performance Solutions provides strategies, tools, and services for helping companies transfer information and knowledge to people to improve performance. “TiER1 partners with clients to design, develop, and deliver technology-enabled solutions that ensure people have the knowledge and information necessary for business success,” said CEO Greg Harmeyer.
TiER1 partners with customers to understand their unique challenges and meet them where they are, to help define, build, and maintain a high performance culture—whatever that looks like for any particular company. TiER1 starts by looking at challenges with the simple goal of helping people perform better. Then the work shifts into designing a solution that’s just right for that specific customer, leveraging extensive experience in strategic change, corporate learning, and organizational effectiveness. Whether working with an upstart company or a Fortune 500 mainstay, TiER1 teams have a great industry and subject matter expertise to contribute.