Entrepreneurs and Businesses in Cuyahoga County Can Utilize The Lab to Test New Ideas and Products

by Devyn Giannetti , Communications Specialist, Cuyahoga County Department of Communications
blue beaker above the words The Lab in blackFor some entrepreneurs, coming up with a fresh idea or new product is pretty easy. But making that idea or product a reality is where it gets difficult. Not having the right connections, ample resources or expertise can make a product go from amazing to simply unachievable.

But now, the Office of Innovation & Performance will help local businesses and entrepreneurs validate their ideas through a new program called The Lab @ Cuyahoga County.

The Lab @ Cuyahoga County will connect these groups with public sector partners to test new ideas, products, or services in a real-world environment for 12 to 16 weeks. Transforming the County into a living lab for the latest innovations, local entrepreneurs and businesses will be provided with the subject matter expertise, data and customer feedback needed to make the jump from product ideation and validation to product launch.

“Typically, when we talk about government supporting local businesses, it is through grant dollars or contracts,” said Chief Innovation & Performance Officer, Catherine Tkachyk. “Those are great tools, but it is not all we can offer. The Lab @ Cuyahoga County takes a look at the resources, such as facilities, infrastructure, data, and expertise, the County and our public sector partners have and makes them available. It is another way we can build our local economy.”

Two different tracks allow participants to utilize the benefits of The Lab at various stages of their product development journey.

The Product Ideation Track supports those in the beginning stages who need additional information and expertise to develop a product or service. Public Sector Partners, which include Cleveland Metroparks, the Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), will provide access to subject matter experts who will help answer questions and lay the foundation for product development.

The Product Validation Track supports businesses and entrepreneurs in the validation stage who need to test their product or service before launch. The Lab partners may help connect participants with the people, technology infrastructure and facilities that will allow them to test their product in a real-world setting, providing the feedback needed to validate or pivot a product before launch.

“This is a great opportunity for Cuyahoga County Public Library to connect with local entrepreneurs and play a role in the innovation process,” said Cuyahoga County Public Library Information & Technology Literacy Manager Rebecca Ranallo. “We are excited to be a partner in The Lab and share our wide array of resources with local businesses looking to grow.”

Applications for The Lab @ Cuyahoga County open January 6, 2020 and close February 7 at 12 p.m. EST. The cohort selection and announcement will take place in March 2020, with the pilot period taking place from April to July. The Lab Application Page contains detailed information on application criteria, application assessment guidelines and information on future office hours.