The Start-Up

Carnegie Mellon University launched Metro21 in July 2014.  It is devoted to enriching the University’s research and development capabilities to address the challenges facing metropolitan areas. It owes its origins to CMU’s highly successful Traffic21 Initiative, now an Institute at CMU.

Traffic21 was first visualized and supported starting in 2009 by Pittsburgh businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist, Henry Hillman. Mr. Hillman believed transportation could be revolutionized by the explosion of information and communications technology.  And he believed that CMU had the knowledge base to play a big role.  His formula was straightforward.  Invest in research and development with the aim of actually deploying in the Pittsburgh region.  But in order to deploy, the ‘real world’ partners had to be engaged from the outset.  “Research, development and deployment through partnership” (RD&D) became the mantra for Traffic21

The application of the RD&D mantra produced, and continues to produce results in transportation systems (see Traffic21 Institute.)  If it’s working for transportation, why not the other systems that make up metropolitan life?  Indeed, cities are systems of systems and need to be addressed as such.  Early seed funding by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation supplemented by University internal funds and grants from the Pentair and IBM corporations made possible the launch of Metro21 in July 2014.  Generous investments by the Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Buhl Foundation have multiplied the early seed funding.

The project activity and results are growing.  Take a look at the at the projects page of our website to see some examples.  The ambitions and plans of Metro21’s leadership are growing as well. The key to the future is bringing together the multiple centers of knowledge and expertise at CMU necessary to address the complex problems facing our cities.