Entrepreneurs will get the chance to perform their civic duty through PGH Lab, a pilot program designed to integrate local innovators in the government process.

Mayor Bill Peduto, along with the Department of Innovation & Performance and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), recently announced plans to launch PGH Lab. The initiative will run from June 2016 to September 2016, and will explore new approaches to making municipal government more efficient, transparent and sustainable by pairing startup companies with city leaders. It will also allow companies to test their products in an environment where they will do the most good.

In a press statement, Chief Innovation & Performance Officer Debra Lam called PGH Lab “an unprecedented opportunity uniting municipal government with the visionary innovators, engineers and technologists that are transforming the way we live, work and play in cities.”

Debra Lam
Chief Innovation & Performance Officer Debra Lam. Photo by Rob Larson.

The program marks a significant step toward realizing the goals laid out in the City of Pittsburgh’s ambitious Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation. The Roadmap also served as the catalyst for the first-ever Inclusive Innovation Week, an event hosted last April to promote diversity in Pittsburgh’s tech community.

PGH Lab will accept proposals from startups with Beta stage products and services able to address issues with Pittsburgh’s citizen engagement, city operations or green initiatives. Interested candidates may also suggest impactful projects that fall outside of the main categories. Submissions will then be reviewed and selected by a committee that includes representatives from the Department of Innovation & Performance, the Office of the Mayor, the Law Department, the Department of Public Works, the Office of Management and Budget, and the URA.

Chosen candidates will team up with City departments to test new technologies over a period of three months. During that time, candidates will also have access to designated work spaces and various other resources.

The application deadline for PGH Lab is Friday, May 27.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.