Partnerships between local universities and technology companies like Google, Intel and Microsoft are turning Pittsburgh, the former steel town, into a high-tech hub. According to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, research and technology companies now employ 213,000 people in the region and generate a $10.8 billion payroll.
"Craig Street has been dubbed Silicon Alley," said Andrew Moore, a Google lab director and former Carnegie Mellon professor, referring to a city street near Carnegie Mellon. Moore said graduates used to leave Pittsburgh because it lacked good career opportunities.
"Having a Google office here is a great way of getting a hold of great talent," he added.
Google's office is housed in Carnegie Mellon's four-story Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC), which is a partnership between Carnegie Mellon, the Carnegie Museums, and local economic development organizations and is funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Home to a handful of other industry partners including Apple and Intel, the facility integrates corporate, university and government researchers who work together there to develop new technologies, business ventures and jobs.
"The fact that global leaders like Google, Apple and Intel are locating in Pittsburgh shows the powerful draw of the universities' talent and technology, as well as the region's attractiveness as an R&D location," said Don Smith, university director for economic development at Carnegie Mellon. "University-community partnerships like the CIC allow the region to maximize the economic development impact of its outstanding research universities."
Research at Carnegie Mellon alone has spawned more than 170 start-up companies since 1995, a key factor in predicting a region's economic future. In January 2007, Pittsburgh was listed as one of Wired Magazine's 10 Top Tech Towns.