- The nonprofit City Innovate has opened up 81 opportunities for startups to partner with government agencies through its Startup in Residence (STIR) program to solve civic problems. The opportunities list includes challenges from 28 governments and agencies.
- The program pairs companies with governments for 16 weeks to test new tech ideas, with the goal of landing the firm a contract at the end of the session. The deadline to apply is November 7.
- The challenge topics range from records administration to traffic management to a platform for low-income renters. According to City Innovate, partners are especially looking for help on technology automation, AI-enabled services and applications of augmented reality.
STIR began as a pilot in the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Innovation in 2014, but quickly spun off as a separate nonprofit and expanded to include all of North America. The nonprofit has a goal of expanding to 100 city, county and state partners, which it says it can do within five years.
The program is meant to not only offer a boost to startups looking to get into urban innovation (especially international companies looking to break into the market), but also to give cities a chance to work directly with a new tech company rather than finding a third-party solution. Each of the challenges is given a dedicated project manager in the government, department support and a budget allocation for the full 16-week period.
Given the great opportunities from emerging technology to transform everything from transportation management to public safety, cities are increasingly looking for help from the startup world. New York City, for example, has held “moonshot challenges” to attract tech firms to come up with innovative solutions to broadband connectivity and climate impacts. Other cities like Columbus, OH have held hackathons to let startups play with city-collected data and come up with platforms to solve urban problems. The STIR program offers another more structured approach that can deploy new solutions around the country.