Startup In Residence (STIR) Teams Set to Solve Gov-Led Civic Challenges

February 01, 2019

Courtesy: City of Syracuse, NY

STIR 2019 Startup Teams announced, commence 16-week residency to address wide range of challenges

Working to ensure its government partners are committed to helping communities make progress – through cross-sector collaboration for improved technology solutions, the Startup In Residence (STIR) program participants recently began their 16-week program. In announcing its 2019 Startup Teams roster, STIR coordinators reported 28 cities, counties and regional agencies are involved. Further, nearly 80 challenges are being addressed, tackling issues ranging from mobility, civic engagement, and IoT, to resiliency and process improvement, among others. Their charter is to address resident and organizational challenges through STIR that cannot be easily solved through a traditional procurement process. Each residency will work to achieve the STIR mission: bringing together civic agencies and startups to explore how they can use technology to make government more accountable, efficient, and responsive.

A sampling of residencies which commenced the final week of January, and will last into May, include a number of programs to help the City and County of San Francisco, CA, where STIR was founded and is still based. GovIQ is helping build a 9-1-1 call center tool with voice recognition non-English language calls. Additionally, GovRock is helping to build a technology solution that provides access to real-time supply chain information and would enable emergency service leaders in San Francisco to rapidly procure supplies and distribute where they are most needed. Stardog is helping to maximize client impact through data systems integration.

Gruntify is helping the City of San Jose, CA build a disaster/incident recovery and broader communications platform for disaster response coordination. The company is also helping the City of Peoria, IL, build a digital platform for rental property inspections. Tolemi is involved in two projects: helping the City of Boulder, CO build a data integration and analytics platform for City employees to report on housing data. The company is also helping the City of Long Beach, CA to develop an online interactive mapping tool which informs stakeholders of the major development project in process throughout the City. In Norfolk, Virginia, ARDX is helping develop an economic development-focused relationship management system. Camino is helping the City of Syracuse, NY build a permit management platform that allows collaboration and visibility between permit applicants and City employees. As it is, the city of Syracuse announced that the startups Camino, Vite Labs, and Zivics were selected through a competitive process, and will address challenges related to permit transparency, security deposit loans, and trauma response. And in the City of Edmonton, the capital of Canada's Alberta province, ChatCreate is helping  build an online voice chatbot that can reduce 3-1-1 call volumes for routine, information-based calls.

STIR government partners have a dedicated, central point of contact who coordinates with the San Francisco-based STIR Central Program to manage the 16-week STIR program in their city. Government partners get the benefit of pre-work support from the STIR Central Program, throughout the 16-week residency. This includes up to 3 site visits in person or by teleconference from a member of the STIR team, as well as post-program reviews, wrap-up reviews, surveys and planning for future STIR cohorts.

STIR History and Mission

Initially begun in 2014 by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, City Innovate now runs the program, driving its expansion across North America. The STIR network currently includes 30 government partners, including cities, counties, states, metro transit authorities, and regional metropolitan planning authorities. The primary goal remains: partnering with leaders that support technology advancement, economic development, and community-driven solutions to government challenges.

The Startup in Residence program helps startups close government contracts. Additional benefits include:

  • Expedited procurement process: The program incorporates a streamlined procurement process, which means that startups can respond to an RFP in less than one hour and contracts can be executed immediately following the residency.
  • Deep Customer Insights: Throughout the residency, startups have a dedicated project manager from a government department to collaborate with on the project. The program incorporates four weeks for user research and four weeks for product testing, giving startups an in-depth understanding of the challenge the government partner faces.
  • Access to STIR’s Government Network: Participation in the program gives startups access to the 30+ members of its government network.

Ongoing goals of Startup In Residence are to: 1) build bridges between startups and government. The organization seeks to do so by bringing innovative products, services and processes into the public sector; 2) give startups access and insights. These tools, say coordinators, help to design solutions to critical needs and tap into the significant government technology market; and 3) empower government departments, notably, to rethink their approach to civic challenges and deliver services more efficiently. The program was featured in a S&RC news article during the application process last fall.

Local governments are tasked with tackling challenges from public health and safety to urban planning, but far too often, their technology and processes lag behind the private sector, according to the program’s leadership. There is a growing market for products and services designed to meet the needs of government customers, they contend.

To bridge the gap between startups and government, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation created the Startup in Residence program in 2014. Since the program’s launch, STIR participants have tackled a variety of pressing civic challenges, detailed on the STIR website.

The Technology Advisory Board provides guidance to ensure the long-term success of the STIR challenges. Comprised of a select group of engineers and R&D experts from global technology organizations, the Board reviews STIR challenges to provide technical advice and guidance. The TAB is chaired by Will Barkis, Principal at Orange Silicon Valley.  

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