Innovation Works has added these 7 startups to its investment portfolio, from adtech to hardware


A new generation of Pittsburgh startups just received new funding.

Today, entrepreneurship hub and start-up investor innovation works presented the latest additions to its accelerator investment portfolio AlphaLab and AlphaLab Equipment and the organization’s seed fund. In total, Innovation Works announced seven new companies developing products or services in robotics hardware, surgical devices, manufacturing materials and more. Apart from Innovation Works, many companies have also received support from other local organizations like the City of Pittsburghthe Institute of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, Carnegie Mellon University and more.

One of the new portfolio companies, AdSkate, previously participated in the AlphaLab accelerator. Executives at the ad tech company, which specializes in developing cookieless contextual advertising solutions, had high hopes for the storefront.

“What we basically want to get out of this is to potentially try to connect with like-minded people in terms of investors or businesses that are in the same field as us,” co-founder Akash Ramakrishnan Recount Technically. “And also, we wanted to use this event to say who we are and to be known in the Pittsburgh environment.”

Ramakrishnan and his team had a successful 2021, starting the year by participating in the city-run PGH Laboratory accelerator and increasing its customer base from zero to six. The co-founder said AdSkate plans to nearly quadruple that number in 2022 as it prepares to launch its first product at the end of this month. This product aims to improve the contextual relevance of advertising while maintaining user privacy.

“Understanding what people are watching, [reading or listening to] then placing ads relevant to them – that’s where we come in,” Ramakrishnan said. Since AdSkate doesn’t rely on cookies to obtain data, the startup’s product also complies with a growing number of privacy and data regulations in place across the country right now. Looking ahead, the co-founder added, the startup will seek a fundraising of a few million dollars later this year to support the growth of this platform for ads in playable content, as well as video and audio media. .

Akaash Ramakrishnan. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Beyond AdSkate, the portfolio showcase featured short pitches from six other companies, nearly all of which expressed plans to grow their teams, marketing and product development with new funding from Innovation Works.

While the Seed Fund Program through the organization typically offers larger sums or pathways to funding and resources, AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear invest up to $50,000 in startups that ‘they support. A representative from Innovation Works pointed out that any variance in the amounts of funding given to each startup does not represent a difference in potential for success, but rather reflects the different capital efficiencies and stage of development of each of their unique business models. .

Apart from AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear, Innovation Works recently launched a third accelerator, AlphaLab Health, which focuses on life science startups. This program operates on a cohort basis while the other two have rolling applications, and because of this, separate showcase events for companies that complete the program. The showcase for the second AlphaLab Health cohort will take place in April.

Here are the seven new startups in the portfolio, their business descriptions, and the amount of investment they each received from Innovation Works:

AdSkate focuses on developing solutions and services on a business-to-business model for the advertising world that favors contextual tools while preserving user privacy. To do this, the startup uses its cookieless process to identify the content of given written, audio, visual or video materials and ensure that advertisers do not publish ads in that content that do not correspond to it. Rather than focusing on the best branding for businesses, AdSkate provides businesses with tools to deliver the best end-user experience.

  • Investment cost: $50,000 (AlphaLab)

A CMU spin-out, Equa Health specializes in developing personalized and interactive digital mindfulness training with the end goal of improving workplace resilience, team dynamics, cooperation, and peak performance. By making digital mindfulness training more personal, Equa Health is improving user retention and the take-home value of its platform, which it says is needed to make mental health resources more accessible as that the need for advice and other services increases.

  • Investment cost: $50,000 (AlphaLab)

Make It Home Safe uses live motorist identification to improve the safety and security of traffic stops by enabling insight into driver and vehicle registration information to improve transparency for civilians and traffic officials. public safety. Through the startup’s system, drivers who are stopped will receive a notification for the reason, and the system will also send a notification to a loved one to let them know where the driver was stopped and why.

  • Investment cost: $50,000 (AlphaLab)

Core Power Magnetics aims to solve the problem of large, heavy, and inefficient magnets through the creation of smaller, lighter power electronic components manufactured through a combination of patented advanced manufacturing processes and newly developed materials. The startup hopes to bridge the technology gap as power grids everywhere evolve toward more advanced, complex, and smaller components.

  • Investment cost: $50,000 (AlphaLab equipment)

By developing a breastfeeding-friendly nightgown, Mamalux hopes to address the unmet need in the postpartum maternity space for comfort for new mothers while they sleep. Its leak-proof postpartum sleepwear is one of the first of its kind according to the founders, and will seek to enter the $25 billion breastfeeding, maternity care and apparel markets.

  • Investment cost: $50,000 (AlphaLab equipment)

A life science company, Endolumik specializes in the development of a fluorescence-guided esogastric calibration system that allows surgeons to better view the gastric calibration tube during minimally invasive bariatric surgeries such as laparoscopic and robotics.

  • Investment cost: $100,000 (IW Seed Fund)

Estat Actuation offers robotics engineers new actuator hardware that is lighter, more efficient and more economical than current ones. The startup’s flagship product is a rotating electro-adhesive clutch, three times lighter and 600 times more energy efficient than traditional electromagnetic clutches.

  • Investment cost: $206,000 (IW Seed Fund)

Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz endowments. -30-
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