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The Avenue

Introducing Advanced Industries in Four Minutes

Siddharth Kulkarni and Mark Muro

Hopefully you’ll soon be digging into our new paper and interactive mapping tool drilling down on “America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter.” And ideally you’re already registered to learn more at our Thursday event on the topic. (Register here).

However, life is short, so in the meantime here’s a quick explainer video we put together to convey the gist of what advanced industries are and why they matter.



To make this we traveled to Pittsburgh this summer to bring the concept of advanced industries to life by drilling down on the cool Pittsburgh company, Aquion Energy. Aquion—which now employs 130 people in the Pittsburgh area and counts Bill Gates as an investor—epitomizes the nature and importance of America’s advanced sector: the swath of 50 R&D- and STEM-worker intensive industries that inordinately drive U.S. competitiveness and enable prosperity.

 An innovative cleantech battery manufacturer, the company was founded in 2008 by Jay Whitacre, a professor of materials science at local innovation powerhouse Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and is hot now. Nestled between the Allegheny River and the espresso bars of Pittsburgh’s trendy Lawrenceville neighborhood, Aquion is all about innovation: specifically, the proprietary, environmentally- friendly mix of simple raw materials and processes that the company employs to create large-format batteries to store renewable energy.

At the same time, Aquion depends on skilled manufacturing workers with varied training levels who apply their experience to applying the firm’s technology to the production of globally in-demand products. Yet this is not your parent’s grim manufacturing site. Aquion’s R&D labs and manufacturing plant in Westmoreland County are visually stunning and suitably high-tech. Here the workers type out commands on touchscreens affixed to glowing machines that sit on a gleaming factory floor.

It’s a fascinating glimpse of America’s advanced industry present—and future.  Join us to take a look.

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