On April 15, the final of eight pitch competitions across the nation came to Pittsburgh’s Tech Shop in Bakery Square, the last step before the final face off  for a national prize of $50,000 in startup capital and other prizes.

The contest is the brainchild of AlphaLab Gear, a leading product accelerator based in Pittsburgh, and TechShop, the nation’s premier ‘maker’ facility providing tools and knowhow for do-it-yourselfers. The AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup aims to find the top ideas in hardware (that is, tangible products, as opposed to software or services) in each of the eight cities where TechShop has a location. Winners from competitions earlier this year in Detroit, Washington D.C., Austin, Phoenix, San Francisco, Redwood City and San Jose will compete Wednesday, May 6 in the grand finale at AlphaLab Gear’s offices in East Liberty.

“There are so many great ideas for products that entrepreneurs dream up from their work experience as a designer or engineer, a university project that a team of students is trying to solve, or just an imaginative leap from an individual,” said Ilana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear. “We want to tap into all these brilliant ideas and give entrepreneurs a way to fund and commercialize their vision.”

The final regional contest here in Pittsburgh kicks off with a panel of local venture capitalists, investors and entrepreneurs sharing thoughts on hardware startups. Panelists include Alex Frommeyer of Beam, Dawn Rucker of L3, Don Morrison of Blue Tree Allied Angels, Josh McElhattan of Startbot, Ryan Zafris of Adam’s Capital and Zach Malone of Draper Triangle. Then six teams will give a four-minute pitch to panel of judges. The winning team will receive $1,000 cash, a single year-long TechShop membership, Fusion 360 software and support from AutoDesk.

That team will compete against winners from the seven other cities at the grande finale on Wednesday, May 6 at AlphaLab Gear. Both competitions are open to the public, but seating is limited. Register for the April 15 event at TechShop here, and for the May 6 event at AlphaLab Gear here.

More information is available at AlphaLabGear.org/HardwareCup/