Carnegie Mellon University

Q&A With Toyz Electronics Co-Founders Damola Idowu and Wole Idowu

Meet the team empowering diverse and disadvantaged students to find rewarding careers.

Can you provide a short description of your product?

We are empowering disadvantaged students by gamifying STEAM learning and training using hip-hop culture and entrepreneurship. Our activities expose kids to who have achieved high levels of success in their professions so they can better envision themselves in STEAM careers. For example, we ran a hackathon at Carnegie Mellon where the General Manager of EA spent 30 minutes on Skype answering questions from students on game development.



ViralMoment Wins Total Retail Tech Startup Challenge

ViralMoment, co-founded by Carnegie Mellon alumni Chelsie Hall and Sheyda Demooei, is an AI-powered, machine learning-driven, B2B SaaS social intelligence platform specializing in demystifying social video platforms like TikTok. The 2021 VentureBridge company recently won the Startup Challenge at Total Retail TECH held earlier this month.

Read more here...

BlastPoint elevates past $5.25 million in funding, targets increasing headcount by 50% before year's end

An East Liberty startup has surpassed an investment milestone of over $5.25 million in seed funding and it's now looking to increase its workforce by about 50% of its current headcount before the end of the year.

BlastPoint Inc., a software firm that provides companies with affordable and accessible artificial intelligence-powered data tools for market analysis and other metrics, employs 21 full-time workers across 10 states, but most are based in Pittsburgh.



Resilient Lifescience Wins $500K In Richard King Mellon Foundation Pitch Competition

Resilient Lifescience, co-founded by CMU alumnus and CEO Brad Holden, won first place and $500K at the second Richard King Mellon Foundation's Social-Impact Investment Pitch Competition. The company, which aims to combat drug overdoses with wearable, intelligent drug delivery systems, was also recently named to's 2023 RealLIST Startups list for Pittsburgh.




Pittsburgh’s Resilient Lifescience wants to use tech to reduce opioid overdose deaths

In 2021, more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians died from overdoses. That same year, Resilient Lifescience CEO and cofounder Brad Holden lost a family member due to complications from opioid use.

At the time, Holden’s full-time job was working in product and operations at Infinitus Systems, a San Francisco-based AI platform for healthcare professionals. But the experience made him decide he could use his background in medical device work and degree in biomedical engineering to address the opioid epidemic. Fast forward to 2022, and Holden would pitch his idea — a wearable medical device designed to detect and reverse overdoses using naloxone to prevent deaths — to his would-be cofounder and CTO Charlie Proctor.

A company started to take form.



Shift Robotics to Unveil Moonwalkers X at CES 2024

Shift Robotics’ newest model of robotic shoes are called Moonwalkers X, and they will be unveiled next week at CES 2024, America’s largest technology-focused convention and trade show.

These newest robotic shoes from Shift Robotics are notable for several reasons (when compared to the original model of Moonwalkers). For example, Moonwalkers X

  • Are significantly lighter — one pound less for each shoe;
  • Incorporate a complete overhaul of the control system, further boosting safety and agility when maneuvering, especially in close quarters;
  • Deliver improved shock absorption to further lower the risk of repetitive injury; and
  • Showcase a fresh new design with modularity and customization in mind.



Duquesne Selects New Venture Challenge Semifinalists

Congratulations to Aquatonomy and Studie, two Project Olympus groups, on being selected as semifinalists! Studie was also awarded First Place in the Pitch Competition! 

Duquesne’s Palumbo-Donahue School of Business announces that 18 entrants have advanced to the semifinal round of the 2023-2024 Duquesne New Venture Challenge (DNVC), which offers cash and service prizes valued at more than $100,000. 

Now in its fifth year, the three-stage competition showcases start-up ideas from aspiring entrepreneurs from the Pittsburgh region and beyond. All types of business plans were eligible for entry. 



Gather AI Becomes the Largest Autonomous Inventory Management Platform in the World

Gather AI, a provider of AI-powered autonomous inventory management solutions for warehouses using commodity hardware, announces today that it is acquiring the business of Ware, another large player in the market. With this acquisition, Gather AI is now the market leader in the space with 25 customers, more than any other autonomous inventory management company, and the technical platform best able to meet accelerating customer demand.



These are the latest startups to place in AlphaLab Health's accelerator program

Two Project Olympus groups, Resilient Lifescience and Magnify Bioscience, have been accepted into the AlphaLab Health Cohort of Startups to Transform Patient Care. 

A startup accelerator program backed by a partnership between the Allegheny Health Network and seed-stage investment firm Innovation Works Inc. has picked its latest cohort of six local startups that'll receive support to further grow their businesses.

The six-month program will aid these budding companies with navigating clinical and commercial development risk points as they look to collectively tackle challenges facing patients and providers alike.




Farm to Flame Energy Inks $4.4M Purchase Agreement

Pittsburgh-based renewable energy startup and Incubator alumni company Farm to Flame Energy recently announced a $4.4 million combined heat and power purchase agreement with a Vermont furniture company.

“We’re very excited about this contract as it’s a 20-year contract, and it shows the long-term growth trajectory that Farm to Flame has,” explained Kwaku Jyamfi (KJ), the company’s CEO & co-founder.


Toyz Electronics is gamifying STEM to draw diverse students into Tech

Not everyone can walk the path of early genius and start pursuing an engineering degree at 16 the way Damola Idowu did — and like his son, Wole would similarly do at Carnegie Mellon University at 15. But almost anyone could download Dah-Varsity, Toyz Electronics’ video game app based on the father-son duo.

The goal is to expose “diverse and disadvantaged students” to STEAM.

Inspired by Booker T. Washington’s educational outreach, Toyz Electronic is on a mission to get more Black people involved in tech, Idowu told


Edulis Therapeutics and Magnify BioScience Invited to Pitch in the 2023 RICE Business Plan Competition

Congratulations to Edulis Therapeutics and Magnify BioScience, both groups that have worked with Project Olympus, on being invited to pitch at the prestigious RICE Business Plan Competition, the world's largest and richest intercollegiate student startup competition! This is a huge honor, and we are wishing them the best of luck! 

See who else is competing!


Edulis invited to 2023 MassChallenge HealthTech Sprint

Congratulations to Spencer Matonis and Edulis on being invited to the 2023 MassChallenge HealthTech Sprint. This is an 8-week program intended to work intensely with 20-25 startups to accelerate the tools and technologies that could transform healthcare.


Bloomfield Robotics looks to grow strategic partnerships following $4.4 million funding raise

A Lawrenceville-based agriculture-tech startup has landed $4.4 million in external funding that will be used to aid the company's growth of its robotics-based technology that's being used by international companies in the specialty crop industry.

Bloomfield Robotics CEO Mark DeSantis said he's looking forward to growing the startup's relationship with Osaka, Japan-based agricultural machinery company Kubota Corp. and Bordeaux, France-based wine producer Oeneo Group...


HEARTio wins first place and $75,000 at the Tulane Business Model Competition.

Heart Input Output Inc. (DBA HEARTio)—a digital diagnostic startup using artificial intelligence to help emergency providers identify heart abnormalities more quickly, more accurately, and at a fraction the cost—is pleased to announced that it has won first place, and a cash reward of $75,000, in the Tulane Business Model Competition. HEARTio was selected the top of 123 team applications, 6 semi-finalists, and 3 finalists. The competition was filled with ventures that had amazing ideas and commercialization strategies.

HEARTio wanted to take a moment to thank Tulane University, the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, and all of the administration, judges, and volunteers. All helped to make sure this competition ran smoothly, and made sure that meaningful and engaging questions were asked.


Mark DeSantis, CEO of Bloomfield: $8.5 Million Raised to Build the Future of Agriculture Robotics

Check out this podcast from Front Lines. Topics Discussed:

  • Mark DeSantis’ entrepreneurial background and what brought him to the ag-tech business
  • The wide application of AI technology and automation across critical components of the agriculture sector
  • Individual monitoring and assessment of speciality crops as a game-changer for the industry
  • The looming challenge of feeding a growing global population, and the role of automated technologies in future food security
  • The future of AI in the agriculture sector more generally, and how Bloomfields is preparing to position themselves as leaders in the space

Farm to Flame is a winner in the 2023 UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge

Pittsburgh’s UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge continued funding tech for good by awarding four more companies cash prizes to make the world better.

After months of founder preparation, pitch competitions and judge deliberations, at the Carnegie Science Center on Thursday evening, the competition finally announced its winners: Farm to Flame, Korion Health and Sustainible, plus one bonus honoree in Testa-Seat.

Read more....


Cleantech Open Northeast Announces 2023 Cohort

Congratulations to two Project Olympus groups, InceptEV and Power3D, on being accepted to the 2023 Cleantech Open Northeast cohort! 

Cleantech Open Northeast (CTONE), the northeast region of the nation’s largest cleantech startup accelerator, has welcomed 47 startups from across the northeast and around the globe into its 2023 cohort, NECEC announced today. Selected from a pool of 80 applicants, this year’s cohort is diverse, and extremely driven to commercialize high-impact solutions to improve the environment and combat climate change.


Fluid Reality Wins "Best Demo" Award at IEEE World Haptics Conference

Fluid Reality, a startup co-founded by Joe Mullenback and Craig Shultz and has participated in Project Olympus, the Innovation Commercialization Fellows program, and the NSF I-Corps program, recently won the "Best Demo" award at the IEEE World Haptics Conference in Delft, Netherlands. 

The two have been recognized by the experts in the field on the largest stage for haptics.

Read more here...


These are the first 6 startups selected for placement in the inaugural Robotics Factory cohort

Congratulations to two Project Olympus startups, Aquatonomy Inc. and Voiage, on being selected to the inagural Robotics Factory Cohort! 

The Robotics Factory, an initiative led by startup investment firm Innovation Works Inc. in partnership with the nonprofit Pittsburgh Robotics Network, announced that these six preseed firms will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 in funding. These startups will also have access to co-working space, mentorship and strategic resources to help grow company operations during the seven-month program, itself part of the "Accelerate" element of the Robotics Factory's three-pronged mandate, with the other two being "Create" and "Scale."


Ecotone Renewables wants to help Pittsburgh reach its zero waste goal

Food waste costs the US an estimated $218 billion per year. Since the Pittsburgh region counted more than 4,000 restaurants and other eating establishments in the region as of 2020, the Steel City isn’t immune from needing to be vigilant about how it handles its food waste. Through Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan, the city is working toward eliminating organic waste from its landfills by 2030.

A sustainability-minded startup is helping the city work toward this goal.



Resilient Lifescience begins in-human medical testing

A Pittsburgh-based biotech startup developing a device that aims to prevent opioid overdoses has reached a critical milestone as its first series of in-human testing begins.

Resilient Lifescience Inc., one of Pittsburgh Inno's Startups to Watch in 2023 and the winner of the 2023 Richard King Mellon Foundation Social-Impact Pitch Competition, has finalized a prototype device that can measure various health and breathing metrics in humans. This capability for the Resilient Monitor is now being tested on human volunteers at Carnegie Mellon University's Project Olympus location on Henry Street in Oakland.

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2023 Startups to Watch

Check out these 10 Pittsburgh startups to watch in 2023 including a number of them that work with us at Project Olympus (including MindTrace (pictured above), Resilient Lifescience, and Farm to Flame Energy). 

The past year has been a tumultuous time to run a tech startup.

A previous decade-long showering of venture capital dollars has turned into an apparent drought, while pandemic-induced demand that led to rapid payroll growth has since subsided, leading to widespread layoffs and even complete shutdowns of companies. And just a few weeks ago, a bank that almost exclusively courted and catered to many of the nation’s startups collapsed in a matter of 36 hours.


Alison Alvarez Selected to EY Entrepreneurs Access Network

Alison Alvarez, CEO and Co-Founder of Blastpoint, has been selected to join the 2023 cohort of the EY Entrepreneurs Access Network for Black and Hispanic/Latino leaders.

Read more on LinkedIn...