Essential Pittsburgh
4:34 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Keeping the Business of Invention Alive in Pittsburgh

Inventors across the globe believe they’ve just created the Next Big Thing when they unveil their inventions, but few of these inventions are put into wide scale production and fewer still become the big thing their creators envisioned. The long odds do not discourage these inventors, and a sizeable amount of them will convene in Pittsburgh next week for the Invention & New Product Exposition (INPEX).

Business contributor Rebecca Harris stopped by to talk about what it takes to get an idea off the drawing board and onto the shelves. Harris explained why Pittsburgh’s culture of innovation makes it ideal for hosting INPEX.

“There is so much going on from technology to robotics to regular innovations and inventions. When you think of things like 4moms ... a lot of what they build is technology based on robotics ... and we’re also looking at also some inventions here in Pittsburgh helping to increase high-performance, high-quality 3D scanners at a fraction of the cost, and certainly so many inventions and patents are coming out of our universities every day, it’s quite remarkable.”

She also noted that Pittsburgh itself had no shortage of inventors.

“We have to talk about [Myron Cope]. He needed a way to excite fans about the 1975 [Steelers] playoffs… so he urged fans to take yellow dishtowels and wave them throughout the game, and the rest truly is history… we look at George Blaisdell, who invented the first Zippo lighter, and he was from Western Pennsylvania… Robert Fulton, who was the son of Irish immigrants, he was born in Lancaster, he later moved to Western Pennsylvania and he brought a lot of steamboats and commercial successes having to do with inland waterways.. Jonas Salk [discoverer of the polio vaccine], University of Pittsburgh and of course George Westinghouse, think of all the things Westinghouse was responsible for … and we can’t forget about Heinz ketchup.”