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Edmonds CC launches Idea Lab incubator, new strategic planning process


Edmonds Community College has launched the Idea Lab – a permanent innovation incubator – to respond to the rapid transformations taking place in higher education. With a focus on innovation, the college is also embarking on a new approach to its strategic planning process.

Edmonds CC has launched its Idea Lab, a permanent innovation incubator.
Edmonds CC has launched its Idea Lab, a permanent innovation incubator.

“Edmonds CC is leaning into the future,” said Danielle Carnes, vice president for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships. “Under our president’s leadership, we launched the Idea Lab as a think tank to capture ideas that will move our college from good to great.” 

The lab brings together about 20 faculty and staff from all levels of the organization to brainstorm, incubate, evaluate, and mobilize innovative solutions to create a change-ready and adaptive college. Participants meet weekly and ideas are carefully evaluated for viability, impact, and sustainability. 

“The need for innovation in higher education is critical to our future and the success of our students,” said Edmonds CC President Dr. Amit B. Singh. “Our employees have tremendous talent and expertise and by gathering together we’re able to harness and refine ideas to create a better learning experience for students and add value to our stakeholders and community.”  

Whiteboard drawing

The first year will consist of exploration, analysis, a look at return on investment, piloting, and securing funding with the goal of implementing the best and most viable idea in the following year.

Idea Lab meeting

“This means that each academic year, we’ll have one project in the idea and exploration stage and one project in the implementation stage,” Carnes said. Carnes co-facilitates the lab with Jim Mulik, Edmonds CC’s senior executive director of Institutional Effectiveness and Grants. She said the college is going to start pushing the boundaries of what’s been done and what’s possible for community colleges. 

“We’re envisioning better ways to serve our students and stakeholders by not only thinking outside of the box –– but by erasing the box altogether,” Carnes said. 

Edmonds CC would also like the broader community to be part of creating its future, so it’s starting its strategic planning with an external focus on the needs of its students and community. The public is invited to participate in the college’s brief, four-question planning survey at Public comment is welcome through Dec. 1. 

“I encourage you to weigh in on signals and future trends the college should be paying attention to, unmet community needs, emerging opportunities and innovations, and share your thoughts about how we can better serve the community,” Singh said.


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Laura Daniali