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40 Startups to Work With 22 Governments on Civic Tech Challenges

San Diego

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The Startup in Residence Program has grown and even inspired California’s governor to turn its approach to innovation into a new procurement pathway.

Software company Coord will help San Diego build an asset management platform for street curb space over 16 weeks, one of 40 companies selected to work with 22 governments as part of the 2019 Startup in Residence Program.

Begun under the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and transferred to local nonprofit City Innovate with the help of a federal grant in 2018, STIR chose teams from nearly 700 startups vying for government contracts tackling civic challenges.

This year’s startups will improve disaster response coordination and communication, connect low-income renters with microlenders for faster security deposit access, and route transit buses in real time with support software—among other solutions.

“Government agencies were able to formally evaluate those solutions to figure out which were the best to fit their needs,” Jay Nath, co-executive director of City Innovate, told Route Fifty.

The four-month collaborative process begins at the end of January through May, when the jurisdiction can opt to negotiate a contract.

STIR’s approach to innovation further inspired new California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s second executive order creating a state procurement pathway called the Request for Innovative Ideas, Nath said. RFI2, as it’s nicknamed, invites traditional and nontraditional partners to propose solutions and develop prototypes for problems that fall outside the typical government contracting schedule, such as wildfires.

With city-planning platform Coord, Nath said San Diego chose to take on a common challenge for jurisdictions across the country: street curbs with various restrictions for parking or other use that are marked with different colors.

“They don’t have a comprehensive inventory of their colored curbs,” Nath said.

By further tying that inventory to a GIS system, the city can represent it on a map to see where time restrictions vary and track changes over time—particularly important as microtransit takes off, he added.

Additionally, as part of STIR, Innovate Mobile will develop a real-time data analytics platform for traffic data from multiple sources around San Diego, and Trellyz is creating a social network for local nonprofits.

Syracuse, New York, is also working with three software startups: Camino, on a permit management platform connecting applicants with city employees; Vite Labs, to crowdsource microlending; and Zivics, on a tool to help the city’s Trauma Response Team engage residents after traumatic events.

“Not only have we identified companies to help us solve city challenges, but we have also adopted new techniques to improve our procurement, advanced innovation and technology budgeting practices, and identified new employees to drive change throughout the organization.” said Adria Finch, Syracuse’s chief innovation officer, in a statement.

Through the program, government staff also can receive training in procurement, civic tech trends and product development.

City Innovate’s Technology Advisory Board also helps startups improve their products, form partnerships and scale their operations with advice from industry leaders at companies like Google, Microsoft and Visa.

“One of the things that sets us apart from other programs for startups is the deliberate way we are focused on supporting these companies in their efforts to find customers, which is one of the most challenging tasks facing young companies,” said Scott Mauvais, director of civic innovation at Microsoft, in a statement.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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