FAQs

Your Questions Answered

We’ve responded to some of the most commonly asked questions below. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Send us a question using out contact page.

  • General STIR Questions
  • STIR for Governments
  • STIR for Startups
  • City Innovate Accelerator

General STIR Questions

What do governments do with STIR?
Governments use the STIR platform to find, document, and publish project opportunities, then work with startup vendors to develop, test, evaluate, and implement solutions.

The key activities include identifying projects, publishing solicitations, reviewing vendor proposals, choosing startup vendors, carrying out a 16-week collaboration period, evaluating outcomes, closing projects, and administering contracts.

What do startups do in STIR?
Work with government departments to develop, test, and sell solutions.

The key activities include applying to projects, participating in an interview process, onboarding, establishing a scope of work, participating in the 16-week collaboration period, demonstrating their solution, closing projects, and selling solutions.

What types of projects work for STIR?
Any problems that can be addressed with the help of technology solutions. See case studies here.


When can governments and startups join STIR?
Anytime! We have cohorts you can join or issue challenges on-demand.


How much does it cost to join STIR?
Governments are charged an annual membership fee to cover support, training, and education. Fees are based on the annual budget of a government organization.

It is completely free for startups to join STIR and there are no fees exchanged during the 16-week collaboration period.


What happens during the 16-week collaboration period?
Governments and startups manage projects in four, one-month sprints. Each sprint focus on a different project area: user research, design, build, and test. The projects are guided by a scope of work. All governments and startups complete regular status surveys to track progress and communicate any issues with STIR staff.


How is the scope of work determined?
Once a government has selected a startup partner, the team together develops a scope of work outlining deliverables for the partnership. The scope of work must be agreed upon by both parties prior to beginning the collaboration period.

Is a contract guaranteed?
Contracts are not guaranteed. Generally, contracts happen when a) the objectives within the scope of work are met and b) there is a positive working relationship between the project teams. In the 2018-2019 cohort, 80% of partnerships resulted in a contract.

Will we sign an NDA?
This depends on your project and is up to the discretion of you and your project partner.

Government STIR FAQ

What types of governments can apply to STIR?
All governments are welcome to apply.
Historically we have worked with these groups:

  • Government organizations: cities, counties, regional transportation authorities, state agencies.
  • Government offices and departments: 311, 911, airport, city manager, community development, digital services, housing, innovation, economic development, information technology, office of the chief information officer, open city and technology, office of accountability, performance and innovation, planning, police, public works, technology services, transportation.


Can international governments apply to STIR?
Yes. To date, one government organization from Canada has participated in STIR.


How much staff-time is required to participate in STIR?
At least two people must be committed to STIR: one mid-level employee to serve as a project manager day-to-day, and one senior-level employee to oversee the effort and manage strategic direction. Governments managing multiple projects at one time must assign a different project manager for each project.

Leading an organization’s participation in STIR typically takes approximately 20% of a project manager’s time each week during the collaboration period.


What do staff members get for participating in STIR?
Staff gain experience in agile project management and procurement administration, and get to contribute to the development of a technology solution. Prior experience in these fields is not required for participation.


What are the application requirements?
Governments must:

  • Pay a membership fee based on their annual budget
  • Have approval to administer procurement
  • Have at least two staff committed to working on STIR
  • Have potential budget to purchase solutions
  • Have motivation to solve problems!


Do governments need to have a project identified prior to applying to STIR?
No. The first month of the cohort is dedicated to identifying and choosing project ideas. But you can apply with projects already in mind. You’ll be ahead of the curve!


Are governments obligated to sign a contract if the Scope of Work is met?
If the outcomes from the scope of work are met and there is a positive working relationship between the government and startup teams, governments are expected to sign a contract with their startup partner, however they are not contractually obligated to do so.


Can governments submit multiple challenges at once?
Governments are encouraged to submit challenges for as many projects as they are able to commit to managing at one time. For each project, governments must assign one employee to manage the project for the duration of the collaboration period.


Can governments choose to work with local startups only?
If a government agency’s local procurement laws allow the organization to award preferences to local businesses, that government agency may choose to work with local startups through STIR.


Startup STIR FAQ

What types of startups can apply to STIR? How do you define “startup”?
We do not have a strict definition of a startup.  In the past, we’ve had companies from two to more than 100 people, from pre-launch to series C.


What are the application requirements.
Startups must have the resources to manage a four-month project and the potential ability to enter into a government contract by the end of your demonstration period.


Do we need to incorporate before applying?
T
his varies between different projects. Read the RFP’s before applying. You will need to have a legal business entity before entering into a contract.


Do we have to be US citizens?
No but you will need to have an EIN before you can get a contract.


Is the 16 weeks flexible?
If your startup already has a proven product, you can request a shorter demonstration period with your government partner. Conversely, if you need more than 16 weeks, you can request a longer period at any point in the demonstration period.

Do I need to have an out-of-the box solution to apply?
No. The maturity of your solution depends on the project.


Do I need to have previous government contracts to apply?
No. Some governments prefer to work with established govtech startups, and others do not.


Do startups get paid to participate in STIR?
Startups are not paid for participation in STIR. The goal of the program is for the project to result in a contract.


Does STIR cost anything for startups?
STIR is completely free for startups to participate in. The startups will dedicate staff time and possibly other resources while pursuing a project.


How much staff time is required?
This will vary depending on how developed the product was prior to beginning. On average, the project takes up approximately 10% of a startup’s time.


Do startups need to relocate to work with their government partner?
No. The program is designed to be mostly remote. Governments may ask startups to meet in person during the 16-week collaboration period. Common in-person meetings are: once in the beginning for a scoping session, and at one other point in during the 16 weeks. Startup teams will have to pay for any travel costs.


We think we can help with more than one project. How many applications can we submit?
We encourage you to apply for any and all challenges you feel you can adequately solve and as many projects as you can commit to managing at one time. For each project, startups must assign one employee to manage the project for the duration of the collaboration period.


How do startups get selected?
At minimum all government partners create a selection committee to review and select a bid to meet their challenge. All government selection processes must adhere to local procurement laws, so the selection process may vary between governments.


Why wasn’t our application selected?
Governments typically receive several strong applications and chose to partner with the company that they believe has the most potential to solve their challenges. If you do not succeed at first, we encourage you to apply for future challenges.


What obligations do startups have to fulfill?
Startups are required to abide by the terms and conditions laid out by each government partner in the RFP or other solicitation document.

Startups are expected to execute on the scope of work that they create in conjunction with the government partner. In addition, they are expected to respond to communication in a timely manner.



City Innovate Accelerator FAQ

What happens at City Innovate Accelerator?  
City Innovate runs an accelerator for a virtual cohort of startups in conjunction with government projects that they develop using the STIR platform. We deliver a curriculum focused on the business of doing business with government covering contracting, pricing, selling into a regulated environment and many other topics.  Curriculum is also developed by industry partners to provide insights on enabling platforms and technologies that drive efficient, cost effective and scalable solutions.


How is the accelerator connected to the STIR Platform?
City Innovate owns the STIR platform. The accelerator runs in conjunction with STIR, offering additional resources and support to selected startup participants. The goal is to drive investment in startups that have the potential to make an impact on government challenges at scale.

How does the accelerator provide funding?
We work with an investor network of seed, angel and early stage VCs to enable our startups to raise money. These investors are specifically looking for opportunities to invest in startups that have the ability to sell products to government, and build technology for the public good.


I’ve already participated in another accelerator. Should I still apply?
Many of the best candidates who apply for City Innovate Accelerator have already completed general tech accelerators. We’re a good fit for startups ready to cross the chasm and learn to sell to government.


What will it cost us to join?
There are no fees to join the accelerator, however like most accelerators we require modest compensation in the form of equity. We require a 2-3% equity stake in common stock from startup participants.  

There is no mandatory travel or relocation; the entire program is delivered in a webinar format.

What kind of commitment do we need to make?  
All participants sign an agreement to participate which includes a commitment to interactive discussions and presentations including a “Demo Day” product presentation. Over the course of 16 weeks, you can anticipate roughly 16 hours of education, in addition to opportunities for networking and on-demand support from the City Innovate team.

How do we get accepted into CI Accelerator?
Our startups are innovative govtech startups that have already been selected by a government partner via the STIR platform. This is an indication that there is a market need and high potential for product-market fit. Once you’ve been selected for a STIR project you can apply to the accelerator.

While all startups using STIR are invited to apply, our programming is ideal for early stage startups through Series A.

How do I get accepted into STIR so I’m eligible for the accelerator program?
Learn about STIR here.