The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has launched a new incubator program seeking innovative ideas for Downtown. And if you want to get on board, better do it soon, because the deadline to apply is less than three weeks away.

BetaBurgh will award grants of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, startups, and small businesses with ideas to “engage with and enhance” the Downtown Pittsburgh experience. That might include some piece of tech that interacts with pedestrians, or an idea for new infrastructure, or even a new business doing something cool.

“We’re thinking not just about tech companies, but about retail, mom and pop businesses, anyone with a plan for the underserved communities, or want to connect with individuals that live and work Downtown,” says PDP president and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “Whatever the idea is, come Downtown and let us help you workshop it.”

How early stage can a company or idea be in order to qualify? Waldrup says applicants aren’t required to have any formal documentation as a business, or money raised. What BetaBurgh is really seeking are concepts and ideas.

“This is a relatively strings-free grant, for a sound, strong concept. We can be as flexible as possible.”

The program has financial support from the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania with technical assistance from incubator programs Innovation Works, AlphaLab and AlphaLab GearThrill Mill and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“We’re committed to making Downtown a unique space, and we want ideas that our patrons and our visitors will think ‘look at this cool thing going on,’” Waldrup says. He adds that the URA and BNY Mellon hope to see diversity among the proposals, and are looking for projects that connect with the community.

The process will move swiftly; after an info session on Feb. 9th at the PDP’s Downtown office, the deadline to submit proposals is Feb. 18th. Waldrup says they’ll announce the winners of the BetaBurgh awards at their March 15th annual meeting.

Waldrup says BetaBurgh expects to give out eight to 10 awards this year but that’s subject to change. “We may award only two or three now and have a second round later, or we could be really blown away by a bunch of different proposals,” he says. “We know how important it is to be flexible when talking with startups.”

For more information on the request for proposals, or questions, visit BetaBurgh’s website.

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor always on the lookout for a great story. Her experience includes writing about business, politics, and local news, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh.