Raised in Pittsburgh, Bill Generett has been working to ensure that Pittsburgh’s innovation economy benefits everyone.
Generett is the former president and CEO of Urban Innovation21, one of the first US-based nonprofit organization to work under the “Inclusive Innovation model.” Urban Innovation21 is a public-private partnership that is supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh’s innovation economy and connecting that growth to underserved communities.
Today, Pittsburgh is powered by five key industry sectors: advanced manufacturing, energy, financial and business services, health care, and life sciences, and informational and communications technology. However, opportunities have not reached all Pittsburgh neighborhoods and Generett is striving to increase access to entrepreneurship funding in lower-income and underserved communities.
Generett and the team at Urban Innovation21 work to ensure that “depressed communities have the same sustainable life as rich neighborhoods.” Programs in Urban Innovation21’s portfolio include the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone Program, Urban Innovation21 “Inclusive Innovation” Internship Program (benefitting over 150 youth a year), Community-Based Grant Competition, Inclusive Innovation Equitable Development Program, Pittsburgh Wealth Building Initiative, Kiva Pittsburgh and the Citizen Science Lab.
Generett believes that for Pittsburgh to be a world class city “we’ve got to be more inclusive” of the diversity that already exists and to be open to other nations and ethnic groups. He strives to create this inclusion with Urban Innovation21—continuing to mentor and train new generations to “fight the fight.”
When Generett envisions Pittsburgh’s future he sees a community “where it doesn’t matter your socioeconomic situation, that you still have safe, clean water and a healthy environment.” He believes that much of this will be accomplished by Pittsburgh’s current residents with community-based innovation, which is why Urban Innovation21 funds local entrepreneurs. One of their goals is to provide funding for a “cluster of businesses, owned by residents of underserved communities, that are connected to and profiting from our region’s new prosperity.”
Generett is also very active in the larger community and serves on the boards of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Energy Innovation Center, the City of Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, Pittsburgh Economic Industrial Development Corporation, Innovation Works, Neighborhood Allies, The Heinz Endowments for African American Male Initiative Advisory Committee, and the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh.
On April 6th, 2017 he announced he will be leaving Urban Innovation21.
William Generett, Jr., Esq.
Vice President for Community Engagement, Duquesne University