Pennsylvania is the New International Tech Hotspot
Did you know that Pennsylvania is home to more than 6,107 international business foreign locations that currently employ over 334,871 people? Chances are, you probably live or work near some of them.
While Pennsylvania is celebrated for its rich history, many of our state’s latest and greatest success stories are focused on the future. The tech landscape in Pennsylvania is rapidly expanding. Companies large and small from across the country and the world are finding many areas throughout the state that they can call home. One such company is Czech Republic-based IT-CNS, Inc., which has found success within the welcoming and burgeoning tech community in Pittsburgh. IT-CNS opened its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh in 2015, situated in the Beauty Shoppe in East Liberty – the same part of town that Google, Uber, and Facebook inhabit.
IT-CNS, the sister company of Czech Republic-owned CNS a.s., specializes in the development of software solutions for the life sciences, logistics, and financial industries. It offers a full-service approach to custom IT solutions for medical laboratories, in addition to developing of innovative, secure file-transfer platforms.
The company’s main product is Safety4Data, a data encryption and file-transfer application. IT-CNS Chief Operating Officer Marek Hajn considers the app a step up from Dropbox, in that it allows unique encryption on individual files – not just the folders containing them. Because the product is simple and easy-to-use, it essentially eliminates the need for a specialized IT department, thus reducing operating costs for customers. It also allows users to adapt the system to their needs and to enact real-time changes.
When IT-CNS was seeking a U.S. location to call home, it originally set its sights on Boston – but my office, the Office of International Business Development (OIBD), worked with the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance to successfully attract the company to Pittsburgh. Since then, a number of partners have helped to welcome IT-CNS to the area and foster further development and success, including the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Pittsburgh Social Exchange, the local Small Business Development Center, and Pennsylvania Bio.
Pittsburgh’s access to talent, emerging technology network, and higher education and research facilities – including Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC— were huge selling points. The entrepreneurial spirit surrounding these institutions and the unique co-working space found at the Beauty Shoppe were also big attractors. Affordability certainly didn’t hurt, either.
IT-CNS joins other remarkable, international IT companies in Pennsylvania that have found homes from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. In the Philadelphia area, Qlik, a software company that develops visual analytics platforms, was founded in Sweden and has its U.S. headquarters in Radnor, PA. SAP was launched by a group of German entrepreneurs and is now found in more than 130 countries, with its U.S. base in Newtown Square, Pa. And while Google was founded in the U.S., it’s worth mentioning that with more than 70 offices in more than 40 countries, it chose Pittsburgh as one of its few locations with primary operations, in large part thanks to its proximity to Carnegie Mellon.
If you’re wondering what brought all of these companies to Pennsylvania, take a look around. Pennsylvania offers unbeatable advantages for foreign-owned companies to set up shop, including:
- Extensive, reliable infrastructure, boasting six international airports, 64 operating railroads, three major ports, and eight foreign trade zones
- Access to six of the 10 largest markets in the U.S.
- A skilled workforce and access to training funds through DCED’s WEDnetPA program
- Renowned higher education and partnerships advancing collaboration between universities and industry
- A large network of global investment representatives
- Prominent industries like manufacturing, life sciences, food and agribusiness, medical devices, technology and energy – not to mention the downstream byproducts of natural gas, including plastics and petrochemicals. (By the way, the new Shell facility? This massive international investment will be a huge catalyst in the continued growth of Pennsylvania’s energy industry and role as an exporter.)
IT-CNS is enjoying these advantages and all that Pittsburgh has to offer as it begins to grow. The company is currently working to customize the Safety4Data platform for varied customer groups, and is seeking developers in the U.S. to join the Pittsburgh team. This year, the company’s COO hopes to gain more customers in the health care business by adding a higher level of encryption to Safety4Data.
David Briel currently serves as Executive Director, International Investment, Office of International Business Development, Department of Community and Economic Development. He oversees a team of four development specialists in Harrisburg and a network of nine overseas authorized representatives, whose mission is to attract foreign direct investment to Pennsylvania and create employment for Pennsylvania residents. Since 2007, this network has created and retained more than 3,500 jobs and attracted more than $500 million of capital investment.