Today, Innovation Works’ Alpha Lab Demo Day brings our community together to celebrate innovation and to reward the hard work of those who present their companies.
Each year, as I did this morning at 7 am, I text Rich Lunak, President of Innovation Works, “It’s my favorite day of the year.” I know he appreciates the sentiment, but I equally wonder if he privately thinks I’m exaggerating: I’m not.
I moved to Pittsburgh twelve years ago. This day consistently validates that this has been one of my most important life decisions, by concisely exemplifying what Pittsburgh has created: a community working together to achieve economic prosperity both for ourselves and for the region.
This wonderful energy has also seeped into my home. I have pulled my daughters from school to attend Alpha Lab Demo Day, because witnessing this event is monumental. It provides an opportunity to share what Pittsburgh has to offer. I wanted them to see the diversity of the talent on the stage, in both the ideas of the presenters and in their varied backgrounds. Alpha Lab Demo Day also shares its spotlight and appreciation for the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is required to get these companies funded and exited. This energy of innovation attracts the universities, the investors, and most notably this year with Philips in attendance, the acquirers.
My youngest daughter Julia, who has attended Alpha Lab Demo Day, will attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing in the fall. Julia had numerous acceptances from other prestigious schools such as Case Western and George Washington; however, she chose Pittsburgh because of the support and research opportunities we have here. This was first witnessed when she was a sophomore in high school at Alpha Lab Demo Day, and subsequently reinforced with the resources of Pitt’s Innovation Institute.
So, Mr. Lunak, it really is my favorite day. Your leadership, well-supported by the daily efforts and passion that Jim Jen and Ilana Diamond put into this program as well, has impacted my life and that of my family.