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For the new issue of MIT Technology Review, I got the chance to examine a question that I’ve long wondered about: When it comes to the tech sector, can a smaller city like Pittsburgh actually play on the same level as San Francisco?

After talking with a lot of experts in the industry, I feel pretty comfortable saying: Yes, with a few qualifications. We could still use more direct flights to the West Coast, more non-tech related talent in areas like marketing, and a larger pool of local venture capital funding. And a big-time IPO or sale of a local startup would be huge for our reputation.

And yet, Pittsburgh is flying high: We have two top-notch, talent-producing universities in Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, have a super high quality of life (and low cost of living), are home to some of the most cutting-edge robotics companies around, and have a strong manufacturing base. No surprise, then, that area startups like DuoLingo and NoWait are soaring, while Google, Uber, and Apple have opened up local offices to take advantage of the local talent.

That’s giving a lot of people in Pittsburgh confidence that we’ll continue to grow and compete. As Matt Zieger, the vice president of the Forbes Fund, put it:

“The culture of Silicon Valley is really a bunch of twentysomethings solving twentysomethings’ problems. Pittsburgh has a culture of a broader purpose. We have a legacy of building things.”

Read more at MIT Technology Review.

 

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