The Innovation Project: Rich Lunak
Rich Lunak is CEO of Innovation Works.
Rich Lunak, CEO
When Innovation Works (IW) began its seed fund in 1999, the startup landscape in Pittsburgh was a startup itself with a few bold entrepreneurs, investors and local leaders who saw the potential here for tech companies to flourish. Since then, IW has become an integral part of Pittsburgh’s economic resurgence by helping hundreds of transformational startups thrive with funding and mentoring from its investors, technology and industry experts. More than $1.7 billion of additional private investment has flowed to IW portfolio companies, helping to create jobs and diversify and strengthen the regional economy. These companies are solving some of the world’s most challenging problems such as clean water, cyber security, energy conservation and disease treatment.
The IW seed fund has helped launch successful local companies, including 4moms, ModCloth and BlueBelt Technologies. It also was a pioneer in the accelerator movement, which is recognized as a winning formula for startups that can launch in a short timeframe with a relatively small investment and extensive expert guidance. The AlphaLab accelerator is ranked among the nation’s top programs of its kind and is joined by another vanguard, AlphaLab Gear, which harnesses skills and resources in manufacturing throughout the Pittsburgh region to launch companies developing and producing physical products.
“The startups you’ll read about in this section are just a sample of the amazing companies we’re privileged to work with,” says Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works. “And though we help by providing investment and expertise, the true heroes are the entrepreneurs who pour their hearts, souls and minds into these breakthrough companies to bring their ideas to light, introduce new products to consumers and truly transform our region.”