PITTSBURGH, PA – February 14, 2018 – The community-minded partnership formed last year to drive inclusive innovation and accelerate entrepreneurship on the Northside today formally welcomed three new partners at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for CoLab18, the new programming space that provides resources and connectivity to support the Buhl Foundation’s One Northside Consensus Plan.
The Buhl Foundation last year joined Faros Properties, Comcast and Urban Innovation 21 to realize a shared vision of an inclusive, connected, collaborative place that integrates public spaces and the wider Northside community at Nova Place. That partnership today is pleased to add BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Innovation Works, and the Riverside Center for Innovation, which will manage programming efforts for CoLab18, a 4,600-square foot space named to reflect the goal of further promoting collaboration among the Northside’s 18 neighborhoods.
“We are grateful for the partnerships that have made CoLab18 possible and for the many opportunities it will provide for Northside residents,” said Diana Bucco, president of the Buhl Foundation. “Colab18 will ensure that the One Northside movement will prepare individuals for and provide equal access to the many benefits of our growing and changing Pittsburgh economy.”
Faros Properties designed Nova Place as Pittsburgh’s innovation space, with the goal of revitalizing the community and reconnecting the North Side to downtown. Today’s announcements are an important part of that vision.
“CoLab18 is an exciting collaboration that will provide valuable educational resources to the community. Adding CoLab 18 to the project at Nova Place was a natural fit, aligning with the goals of the redevelopment. Faros Properties feels privileged to be a part of such a groundbreaking partnership with Buhl, Comcast, Urban Innovation21 and now our new partners,” said Jeremy Leventhal, managing partner of Faros Properties.
One Northside staff will also work at CoLab18, which can accommodate groups of up to 150 and will serve as the Northside’s epicenter for creativity, collaboration and technology. The space is designed to be a digital classroom and laboratory open to Northside residents, businesses and organizations and features two conference rooms, a multi-purpose room and work room using state-of-the-art technology, media and connectivity resources. Interested parties will soon be able to reserve space at www.colab18.org.
In addition to funding the build-out of the space and offering advanced technology solutions, Comcast has enabled gigabit-speed broadband service and Xfinity WiFi throughout the CoLab18 innovation space. This complements the existing connectivity it provides through the gigabit-speed Comcast Business circuits in nine innovation huts in the Nova Place concourse and Xfinity WiFi provided throughout both the concourse and Nova Place’s unique outdoor plaza.
“As Pittsburgh’s leader in connectivity and technology, we’re pleased to continue making a commitment and investment in the future of the city through this partnership,” said Christine Whitaker, senior vice president of Comcast’s Keystone Region. “We welcome our new partners and believe CoLab18 will be a sustainable epicenter for digital engagement and a magnet for collaboration that will foster the success of the One Northside plan.”
“CoLab18 is an investment in the people of Pittsburgh,” said Ian Stewart, Chairman of BNY Mellon Pennsylvania. “Our foundation’s support will fuel workforce development and guide entrepreneurs on their way to success.”
Programming at CoLab18 will focus on four areas: community collaboration, education, digital engagement and workforce development. In addition to entrepreneurship training provided by Riverside Center For Innovation and networking events hosted by Innovation Works and Alloy 26, a co-working space at Nova Place, more than 40 agencies are either committed to providing programming or actively working on plans to deliver programming for the space.
Among those are Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time, who will host their quarterly meeting and hold a youth job fair in April; United Way’s “Be A Middle School Mentor” will host meet and greet events with students and families in March and April; BizFIT Construction will host an Entrepreneurial Training Program for construction businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans; and Citizens Bank will host a four-part financial literacy workshop.
“It’s exciting to see so many of the resource partners are willing to take an interest in the space. Our goal is to make CoLab18 one of the cluster regions for the city as stated in the recent Brookings Institute report for Pittsburgh as a global innovation city,” said Riverside Center for Innovation Executive Director Juan Garrett.
“As part of the great group of partners bringing programming to Colab18, Innovation Works draws on insight from years working with Pittsburgh’s startup technology companies,” said Rich Lunak, president & CEO of Innovation Works. “We’re excited to share our knowledge and networks with new entrepreneurs and those entering the technology community through Colab18’s digital literacy programs. Tapping into our experiences and connections, we aim to ensure that opportunities are inclusive, available, and accessible by everyone in our community.”
In a broader sense, the growth of this partnership is one way Pittsburgh is cultivating an inclusive, digitally-skilled economy that helps the region address workforce challenges.
“While our region continues to experience growth, we know that one of the challenges before us is to ensure that our residents have the skillsets that match the employment opportunities today,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “I’m excited to see that there continues to be investment in Nova Place, and the residents of the Northside who will have the opportunity to use this space for any number of initiatives, including workforce development.”
“One of the greatest challenges facing the Pittsburgh region is making sure opportunity is available for all, not just a few, and that is especially true in the technology space. CoLab18 should not only be a critical tool to build inclusive innovation in the Northside but be a model for all Pittsburgh neighborhoods,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.