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It's no secret that Pittsburgh's startup scene is on the rise. 

Innovative tech startups have been popping up all over the Steel City. More company, like Argo AI, Duolingo and Petuum have established themselves as industry leaders; while Apple, Google, Uber and other major companies have also opened up offices.

This trend seems poised to continue, with InnovationWorks reporting that local universities have received nearly $10 billion in research funding and startups have attracted $3.5 billion in investments. Before startups reach funding stage, however, they need a strong ecosystem of incubators and accelerators to support them, and Pittsburgh has risen to meet that challenge.

Below, we've alphabetically listed some of the best accelerators and incubators in Pittsburgh:

1. AlphaLab

  • Description: "AlphaLab is a nationally ranked software accelerator in Pittsburgh, PA. We help early-stage tech companies quickly figure out the best way to build and grow in an immersive 4-month program with funding."
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Software.
  • AlphaLab Requirements: Entrepreneurs and early-stage startups with an innovative product/service in the software space. Also, AlphaLab encourages women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply.
  • AlphaLab Deal Terms: A $25,000 investment for an equity of 4%. Startups who complete the program and reach established milestones will receive an additional investment of $25,000 as a convertible note. The 4-month program includes educational sessions, mentorship from entrepreneurs and investors; plus, access to capital.
  • Notable AlphaLab Alumni: Accel Diagnostics, Behaivior, Budget Simple, Everhire, Honeycomb Credit, Suitable, Treatspace, Watt-Learn.

2. AlphaLab Gear

  • Description: “AlphaLab Gear is a nationally-ranked hardware accelerator in Pittsburgh, PA.”
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Hardware.
  • AlphaLab Gear Requirements: Entrepreneurs and early-stage startups with an innovative idea or prototype in the hardware space.
  • AlphaLab Gear Deal Terms: An investment of up to $50,000 with the possibility to raise up to $600,000 of additional capital. The 30-week program helps startups with their product-market fit, business model and manufacturing. Also, participants have access to mentors, 1-on-1 sessions with industry leaders, office space, investor and corporate partner networks, etc.
  • Notable AlphaLab Gear Alumni: AbiliLife, CapSen Robotics, HiberSense, Maven Machines, Rorus Inc., Wise Telemetry.

3. Ascender

  • Description: “Where Pittsburgh entrepreneurs come to learn, innovate, grow, and connect.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses. 
  • Ascender Requirements: Entrepreneurs who want to build and scale their ideas.
  • Ascender Deal Terms: Participants have access to Ascender-hosted programs and events, 1-on-1 mentoring sessions, educational resources for startup growth, intensive bootcamps, financial support, office space, etc.
  • Notable Ascender Alumni: Anthologie North, Daily Bread PA, Fitt, Forest Devices, Hability, Kopo, Module Housing, Rhabit, SCAD AI.

4. BHiveLab

  • Description: “Every business is unique, but one thing that every startup shares is the need for speed. We don't provide financing, but we will invest our best and brightest resources in your digital idea.”
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Internet, IoT, Mobile and Tech Platforms. 
  • BHiveLab Requirements: Visionary innovators who want to turn their ideas into something scalable.
  • BHiveLab Deal Terms: BHiveLab helps startups with business planning resources, proof of concept, prototyping, brand design, access to a coworking space, etc.

5. Blast Furnace

  • Description: “The Blast Furnace is the University of Pittsburgh student accelerator that provides emerging entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills they need to form a corporation and grow and develop their business.”
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses. 
  • Blast Furnace Requirements: Upcoming entrepreneurs who want to take their ideas to market. It’s important to note that it’s open to University of Pittsburgh students.
  • Blast Furnace Deal Terms: It’s an 8-week program, two sessions per week. Participants have access to work at the university’s Big Idea Center, a network of proven mentors and coaches, networking events and the opportunity to apply to the top accelerators in the city.

6. Founder Institute Pittsburgh (pre-seed accelerator)

  • Description: The Founder Institute works with entrepreneurs and teams in the pre-seed stage, typically before they are advanced enough to gain acceptance into a seed-accelerator program. The program helps you build an enduring business by providing Pittsburgh startup experts that are invested in your success, and a structured business-building process that has helped alumni raise over $1.75BN. 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus:  All tech or tech-enabled businesses
  • Founder Institute Requirements: Both solo founders and teams at the pre-seed stage are welcome, including those at the idea or very early-stages of a company (including pre-incorporation). If your company has significant funding, traction, or revenue, then you are probably too advanced for the Founder Institute and should consider applying to the seed-accelerators on this list.
  • Founder Institute Deal Terms: To create a strong support network, participants join an "Equity Collective" where they contribute 4% of their company to a shared pool. Any financial returns to this pool are then shared equally with each cohort's alumni, the program mentors, Local Leaders, and Founder Institute.   
  • Notable Founder Institute Alumni: Udemy, Acudeen, Appota, Ovamba, Realty Mogul, TravelCar, and more

7. Idea Foundry

  • Description: “Founded in 2002, Idea Foundry is a Pittsburgh-based, non-profit economic development organization dedicated to job creation.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Environmental and Social Issues. 
  • Idea Foundry Requirements: Entrepreneurs looking to turn their innovative ideas into scalable businesses and who also want to bring prosperity to the Pittsburgh region. It’s important to mention that they assist foreign startups who want to move to Pittsburgh. 
  • Idea Foundry Deal Terms: They offer different programs with access to funding, business resources to build a company, mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and leaders, etc.
  • Notable Idea Foundry Alumni: Aruga Technologies, CitizenCity, Clinical Platform, Expii, Ikos, Kopo, Module, MyHouseCall, Solinius.

8. IncubateHER

  • Description: “The Center’s IncubateHER program offers opportunities for experienced business owners and professionals to engage with and enhance the work of women entrepreneurs in our community.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses. 
  • IncubateHER Requirements: Women entrepreneurs who lead high potential, early-stage startups.
  • IncubateHER Deal Terms: Participants receive a membership, business education and training from the Chatham's Women's Business Center. They get to work with industry-specific mentors, receive peer-to-peer mentoring sessions and access to networking opportunities. Plus, participants receive a $1,500 award upon completion of the program. 
  • Notable IncubateHER Alumni: Americat Company, INNERgy, KI11ERPANCAKE, Knotzland Bowtie Co., PetalVision Glass, PIT Shop, Procopia Nonprofit Consulting.

9. Innovation Works

  • Description: “We empower entrepreneurs to succeed, scale and create impact.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses. 
  • Innovation Works Requirements: Entrepreneurs who want to take their startups to the next level. Also, Innovation Works values diversity and encourages women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply.
  • Innovation Works Deal Terms: They offer several programs to help founders scale their startups. These programs include access to early-stage investments, educational sessions, mentorship from entrepreneurs and investors; plus, networking and future funding opportunities.
  • Notable Innovation Works Alumni: AbiliLife, BlastPoint, Carnegie Speech, Diamond Kinetics, HEBI Robotics, KAARTA, NuRelm.

10. LifeX Labs

  • Description: “LifeX Labs is a purpose-built space for collaboration, creating a culture of excellence and resilience, mentoring, expanding networks and company building.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Biopharma, Consumer and Population Health, Diagnostics, Medical Devices. 
  • LifeX Labs Requirements: Entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas to solve global health needs.
  • LifeX Labs Deal Terms: Participants receive a tailored program to building strong and scalable startups. Plus, help with financing, finding the right partners and gaining expertise from industry leaders.

11. New Sun Rising

  • Description: “We build vibrant communities through culture, sustainability, and opportunity.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Civic and Social Innovation. 
  • New Sun Rising Requirements: Entrepreneurs in underserved communities who want to create growth and development with their innovative ideas.
  • New Sun Rising Deal Terms: They offer several programs to help entrepreneurs launch their projects. Participants have access to workshops, 1-on-1 mentoring sessions, networking and showcasing events, Vibrancy Funds and other funding opportunities. 
  • Notable New Sun Rising Alumni: Epicast Network, First Course, Meta Mesh, PGH Map Lab, Project Pipeline, Storyburgh, Three Rivers Grown.

12. numo

  • Description: “Part startup, part corporate innovation lab, part tech incubator. numo combines parts of these three worlds into a unique model for building new products.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Fintech. 
  • numo Requirements: Creative innovators who want to build disruptive products to solve issues in the financial services industry. 
  • numo Deal Terms: Access to academic leaders and opportunities to collaborate with other fintech labs and startups.

13. PGH Lab

  • Description: “PGH Lab connects local startup companies with the City of Pittsburgh and local authorities to test new products and services in a real world environment for three to four months.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Civic and Social Innovation. 
  • PGH Lab Requirements: Startups who want to develop innovative solutions to the civic challenges in Pittsburgh.
  • PGH Lab Deal Terms: Participants will have access to a coworking space and a range of city resources; plus, startups are given the opportunity to test their products to gain valuable feedback for growth. 
  • Notable PGH Lab Alumni: CleanRobotics, Cropolis, LifeWhere, Meta Mesh, Qlicket, Techstra Solutions, Zensors.

14. Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse

  • Description: “Helping entrepreneurs grow their companies and returning results to our region and investor community, that’s our mission. At the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, our domain experienced staff provide the knowledge, connection, and capital needed to navigate a complex healthcare system – ensuring commercial success.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: Healthcare and Life Sciences. 
  • Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Requirements: Startups and entrepreneurs who want to scale their companies and disrupt the healthcare industry.
  • Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Deal Terms: Participants will receive educational resources to help their startups grow, access to networking events, useful connections and capital.  
  • Notable Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Alumni: Celsense, Cernostics, InteloMed, MedRespond, nanoLambda, Peptilogics, Treatspace.

15. Project Olympus Incubator Program

  • Description: “Bridging the gap between cutting-edge university research and economy-promoting commercialization for the benefit of our communities.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses. 
  • Project Olympus Incubator Program Requirements: Open to all current CMU students who want to turn their innovative ideas into startups.
  • Project Olympus Incubator Program Deal Terms: Students receive business and startup advice, micro-grants of up to $5,000, an incubator space and access to a network of academic, industry and business leaders. 
  • Notable Project Olympus Incubator Program Alumni: AbiliLife, AE Dreams, Carbon Freight, ComYoot, Expii, humotech, RistCall, RoBotany.

16. Riverside Center for Innovation

  • Description: “RCI creates entrepreneurial change in Pittsburgh.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses.
  • Riverside Center for Innovation Requirements: Innovators with an entrepreneurial spirit looking to start and scale their business.
  • Riverside Center for Innovation Deal Terms: They offer several programs with access to an office space, mentorships, business education, industry connections, networking opportunities and access to capital. Also, they have programs that support minorities, women and veterans in the Pittsburgh area.

17. Startup Boost Pittsburgh

  • Description: “Welcome to Startup Boost Pittsburgh. Our ethos is to lead pre-seed stage startups towards Accelerators, Investment, and/or Revenue (AIR).” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses.
  • Startup Boost Pittsburgh Requirements: They are looking for early stage entrepreneurs.
  • Startup Boost Pittsburgh Deal Terms: It’s a 6 week program that involves mentorship and coaching on different topics (pitching, customer development, market size, etc.) to help startups grow. 

18. SteelBridge Labs

  • Description: “SteelBridge Labs provides selected FinTech startup companies with deep industry experience that arms entrepreneurs with the appropriate tools for success.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: FinTech.
  • SteelBridge Labs Requirements: Entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas who want to make a significant impact in the financial services industry.
  • SteelBridge Labs Deal Terms: The lab provides a seed investment between $25,000-$250,000 with the potential of a co-investment from their investment network. Startups have access to an office space, a business curriculum to turn ideas into startups, guidance and mentorship from leaders; plus, access to investor networking opportunities. 
  • Notable SteelBridge Labs Alumni: Connex, EquityNet, Exchangelodge, Honeycomb Credit, Humanified, iraLogix, Numoola.

19. University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute

  • Description: “Established in 2013, The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute is the University’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses.
  • University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute Requirements: Open to Pitt faculty members and students who want to take their high impact, innovative ideas to the marketplace.
  • University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute Deal Terms: There are various programs which include access to business education, Entrepreneurs in Residence, mentoring, networking and funding. 
  • Notable University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute Alumni: Atlas 3D, CEAgent, Ebb Therapeutics, Globin Solutions, Inc., Interphase Materials, Koutif Therapeutics, NAVITY, pathVu, Trellis Legal.

20. Work Hard Pittsburgh

  • Description: “Work Hard Pittsburgh is a cooperatively owned and operated business incubator that combines media and technology services with training, sales support, and access to capital. We provide entrepreneurs with a path to start, scale, and sustain their business ventures.” 
  • Sectors / Markets of Focus: All tech or tech-enabled businesses.
  • Work Hard Pittsburgh Requirements: Entrepreneurs who want to start and scale their business.
  • Work Hard Pittsburgh Deal Terms: It offers access to an office space, media resources, sales training, talent and member networks. 
  • Notable Work Hard Pittsburgh Alumni: DECO Resources, Epicast Network, Haggerty Media, Meta Mesh, OrgSpring.

If you are looking to build a startup in Pittsburgh, the Founder Institute is looking for you. Apply today!

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