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Report Launch: Investment in Pittsburgh’s technology sector
March 17, 2021
Investment in Pittsburgh’s technology sector
Ernst & Young LLP and Innovation Works, Inc. are proud to present our ninth annual review of Pittsburgh’s technology investment landscape. This report provides a comprehensive review of investment and exit activity in the Pittsburgh region from 2011 to 2020.
The year 2020 saw dramatic swings in regional investment trends as the COVID-19 pandemic led startups to raise funds to bolster their balance sheets and extend their runway. In total, 171 companies raised $993 million, a decrease from the almost $3 billion raised in 2019, but reflecting the second-best investment year in the past decade. In the past 10 years, nearly 600 unique Pittsburgh companies attracted a total of over $7.2b in investment.
The local investment community stepped up, with the help of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority), to support our vulnerable early-stage technology companies get through this pandemic. Taken together, Innovation Works, Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle and Riverfront Ventures invested $5.25 million, in addition to normal investments, into regional startups as part of a pandemic relief effort. Additionally, firms from outside our region are increasingly attracted by Pittsburgh’s growing reputation as a technology hub and further contributed to investment totals. Approximately 300 firms from around the world invested in Pittsburgh companies in the last five years, including 42 making their first investment in our region in 2020.
These firms were attracted by Pittsburgh’s regional strengths in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and life sciences, with autonomous vehicles and robotics continuing to draw the lion’s share of investment dollars (55%) in 2020. Pittsburgh’s world-class technical capabilities and talent, the $10 billion of university research over the past decade, capital efficiency, and $14.7 billion of exit proceeds over the past decade combine to make Pittsburgh an attractive destination for investors.
Both Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and Innovation Works are committed to supporting entrepreneurial growth in the region. Tracking investment activity helps us begin conversations with new investors interested in regional deals, informs local investors about our strengths versus other communities, and chronicles what’s working and where we need to focus efforts. We hope this report provides you with useful insights into the state of the local technology community and venture capital ecosystem and inspires new ways to move it forward.