For several years, the region has been gaining traction and recognition as a center of creative technology. One of the region's greatest champions is the Creative Technology Network, launched two years ago to raise awareness and position the region as a creative technology hub. The Network was established through the formalization of the Pittsburgh Technology Council's Art + Technology Initiative, originally started in 2008.
The Creative Technology Network consists of a dedicated program of events, educational workshops, visibility initiatives and business development/investment opportunities for companies, artists and organizations working at the intersection of creativity and technology.
In May, the Network hosted its biggest event of the year, the DATA (Design, Art + Technology) Awards, Exhibition and Summit, which showcases and honors the coolest new creative projects and technologies each year.
According to Kim Chestney Harvey, director of the Creative Technology Network, "DATA has evolved into a multi-national event drawing people from around the world."
"There is a lot of innovation in the region," she adds. "This is an opportunity to aggregate what's happening in creative technology once a year and to let people see and interact with the products and the people behind them."
The event is an opportunity to develop business by connecting international leaders and investors with regional businesses. At the interactive exhibition, 75 DATA finalists demonstrated the latest creations and innovations for investors, leaders, entrepreneurs and other participants from around the U.S. and the globe, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Lithuania.
Topics at the summit span the creative tech gamut, including design, gaming, film & television, robotics, mobile applications, education, edutainment, new media advertising, architecture, animation, social networks, music, fine art, and much more.
The winner of the Education Award drew attention to the region's burgeoning STEAM movement. The Fox Chapel Area School District was recognized for its Creativity and Literacy Program for district residents with children from three to five years of age. The Creativity and Literacy Program provides an environment and resources to develop literacy and 21st century skills.
When asked how important STEAM is to the region, Chestney Harvey is quick to say it's very important. "Getting kids to understand the whole spectrum of creativity, both the right brain and left brain is valuable."
Chestney Harvey points out that collaboration is also extremely valuable to increasing visibility of creative technology in the region. "It's important to not be competitive and to remember that all ships rise together."