The PLSG grew out of an original plan known as BioVenture developed by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. The initiative received a major boost in 2001 when money from the state's settlement with the tobacco industry was pledged to create a life science greenhouse in Western Pennsylvania. Other life sciences greenhouses in Philadelphia and Harrisburg also received seed money from the settlement. In 2003, the non-profit Pittsburgh Biomedical Corporation, which was established in 1988 as the region's first biomedical economic development initiative, consolidated with the PLSG.
The PLSG stated mission is to create, nurture and help establish a globally dominant life sciences industry in western Pennsylvania. PLSG primarily focuses on guiding researchers, entrepreneurs, and emerging companies through the challenges faced in the early stages of company development by advising them on business models and capital investments in order to help speed the delivery of biomedical innovations to the marketplace. The PLSG also helps in the expansion of more mature life science companies by supporting new product and market developments and by connecting them to new investors.
The PLSG is funded based on a revolving funding model that provides returning revenue which supports the ongoing growth of regional industry. In addition, the PLSG receives funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development and Southwestern Pennsylvania's philanthropic foundation community. The PLSG has committed over $11.3 million into 50 life sciences companies and has attracted over $300 million in follow-on funding for those emerging business.