Pittsburgh Robotics Network Names Jennifer Apicella as Executive Director

Apicella was serving as the PRN's interim director.

Robotics Factory

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network has recently moved into the Robotics Factory in Lawrenceville, Pa.
The Pittsburgh Robotics Network has made its former interim director permanent, moved into the Robotics Factory, and prepared for its next Discovery Day.

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network today announced the appointment of Jennifer Apicella as its executive director, effective immediately. Apicella has been serving as its interim executive director since May 2023 and previously held the position of vice president of partnerships and programs since February 2021.

“Her dedication and proven leadership have been instrumental in advancing the mission of the PRN, which serves as the nexus for over 140 robotics organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh region,” said the organization in a press release.


Apicella was previously interim executive director. Source: PRN

“I am excited to be able to continue this work, steering the Pittsburgh Robotics Network into a future brimming with collaborative growth and innovation,” said Apicella. “Together with our partners, we’ll continue to amplify Pittsburgh’s already well-established standing as one of the top international hubs for robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence.”

“Our region’s robotics cluster is one of the most advanced and innovative in the world,” she added. “I am delighted to be able to expand this work, fostering a community that facilitates new opportunities for commercial growth and industry partnerships to accelerate the adoption of robotic solutions across the globe.”

The PRN recently named Jenny Sharpe as senior program manager of workforce development.

Robotics Row relocation complete

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network has also officially moved its offices into the Robotics Factory, located within the Tech Forge along Pittsburgh’s “Robotics Row.” It is backed by the PRN, Innovation Works, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative.

The PRN said the Robotics Factory “serves as a catalyst for nurturing early stage robotics startups, expediting the commercialization of robotics solutions, and enhancing manufacturing capabilities. It’s through public and private partnerships like these that real impact can be achieved for the region.”

Kevin Dowling, chair of the PRN board of directors and managing director of the Robotics Factory, stated: “Jennifer’s appointment comes at a pivotal time, marking a new chapter for our region’s robotics ecosystem. Her proven ability to connect, inspire, and propel the robotics business community forward makes her the ideal leader to navigate the organization’s journey ahead.”

“The synergies between the Pittsburgh robotics business ecosystem and the broader global robotics sector is poised to reach new heights under Jennifer Apicella’s leadership,” the PRN asserted. In June, it announced a strategic partnership with Denmark’s Odense Robotics aimed at generating transatlantic business growth opportunities and solidifying ties between the two robotics clusters.

The PRN said it remains committed to helping regional robotics businesses and building its position as an “internationally recognized powerhouse in robotics and AI.”

“As our region continues to invest in providing new programs and resources to help grow our commercial robotics businesses, this will result in new companies here, who will then be able to provide more jobs in our community,” said Apicella.

Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day 2023 banner

Discovery Day is open to the public. Source: Pittsburgh Robotics Network

PRN preps for Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network has been preparing for the Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day on Nov. 16. The event is intended to showcase the region's innovative robotics community.

Free and open to all, Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day offers business professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, job seekers, students, and the general public opportunities to engage with Pittsburgh’s robotics ecosystem. The event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center will feature more than 130 exhibitors, including Aurora, Agility Robotics, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Partnerships among the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Innovation Works, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission are supporting the Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day.

The PRN said it expects this year’s event to draw thousands of attendees to experience live demonstrations of the technologies “changing the way we live, move, and work.” They can also meet the people making them possible, learn about various ways to get into the field—from traditional degrees to new training programs – and connect with community organizations “elevating the autonomy ecosystem.”

Attendees can visit four Discovery Zones—Robotics, Manufacturing, Career Pathways, and Community—for hands-on demonstrations of advanced robotics technology and next-generation manufacturing techniques. They can also explore career and business opportunities, said the PRN.

The event’s Main Stage presentations will highlight the humans behind the robots, as well as provide a chance to hear from emerging robotics and AI companies during the Robotics Factory Startup Showcase. The event will culminate in a Robotics and Tech Happy Hour held onsite from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET.

Inside the 2022 Pittsburgh Robotics Discovery Day.

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Robotics Factory

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network has recently moved into the Robotics Factory in Lawrenceville, Pa.

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