After an intensive application process, the 2019 cohort of the Startup in Residence (STIR) program is officially off and running. This year saw growth beyond the areas served by last year’s program, with 31 government partners — including cities, counties, states, and regional authorities — participating in the program, up from nine jurisdictions last cohort.
“This is a major expansion that validates our efforts to streamline how government and startups can work together,” Jay Nath, Executive Director of City Innovate, said.
STIR is an innovative 16-week program that connects government partners with technology startups to work together on civic challenges through a streamlined procurement process. Launched in 2014, the program has supported the creation and customization of 47 projects for government organizations and is now entering its fifth year. STIR has facilitated the creation and customization of tech solutions to a host of issues, large and small — from high-tech sensors that monitor municipal trash cans to a chatbot interface that matches volunteers to emergency response efforts.
The program tackles challenges in areas such as Mobility, Civic Engagement, Public Utilities, and Asset Management. This year, participants will range from a number of cities and counties, including Napa, Syracuse, Las Vegas, Mobile, Boulder, San Jose, Norfolk, Portland, Henderson, San Diego, Sacramento, Long Beach, Fremont, Sacramento, Peoria, and El Dorado County; to five regional transportation organizations, including the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Memphis Area Transit Authority and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada; to states like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Canadian cities including Edmonton.
“Participating in the Startup in Residence program is a logical next step for the City and builds on our efforts to transform Sacramento into an urban technology lab,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “This is an exciting time to be part of Sacramento’s innovation ecosystem.”
What’s New This Year
After speaking with government partners and startups about changes they would like to see to the program going forward, City Innovate has instituted several updates to this year’s program.
Technology Advisory Board
Participants in the 2019 program will receive technical advice and assistance from a Technology Advisory Board, chaired by Will Barkis, Principal at Orange Silicon Valley. As new technology areas such as smart cities develop, the Board will help startups scale their projects by combining best business practices with technical guidance.
Government partners who are working on transportation and mobility challenges will be able to take advantage of the STIR Mobility Track. Led by Tim Papandreou, Advisor for Mobility at City Innovate, and co-chaired by Carlos Cruz-Casas, Assistant Director at Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works and Nick Roethel, Director of Technology Services at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area, the mobility track offers additional program activities for these partners, including sharing of lessons learned and recommendations for success.
Expectations for the 2018-2019 STIR Program
The continued growth of STIR positions City Innovate to further bridge the gap between the public and private sectors, while expanding the breadth and depth of the program.
For participating city governments, like that of Fremont, California, participating in the STIR program is not just an opportunity to test out new technologies in a vacuum, but also to respond to real-time challenges. Fremont decided to participate in the STIR program after experiencing traffic gridlock in a large section of the city due to emergency roadway repair work on the freeway. The incident was exacerbated by navigation apps directing traffic onto local streets, which prevented critical police, fire and other emergency response services from reaching their destinations.
“Last year’s ‘Carmageddon’ was a catalyst for improving our communication and outreach capabilities,” Sheila Marquises, Senior Transportation Engineer, City of Fremont, said. “Our goal is to communicate critical information with the thousands of resident and nonresident drivers that travel through our city daily. We plan on tackling this challenge through STIR.”
On the startup side, the benefits are also numerous. Startups that go through the program will be opened up to new market opportunities, have unparalleled access to government departments, and can take advantage of the prestigious mentors network. Participating startups also get access to desk space at WeWork in select cities during the four month residency.
“We’re excited so many forward thinking governments have joined us in our efforts to modernize government and expand our impact in more communities,” Nath added.
2018-2019 STIR Government Participants*:
Boulder, CO; Edmonton, AB, Canada; Fremont, CA; Henderson, NV; Las Vegas, NV; Long Beach, CA; Memphis, TN; Mobile, AL; Napa, CA; Norfolk, VA; Peoria, IL; Portland, OR; San Jose, CA; Syracuse, NY; Sacramento, CA; San Diego, CA; San Jose, CA, San Leandro, Walnut Creek, CA; West Sacramento, CA.
El Dorado County, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; City and County of San Francisco, CA
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Regional Transit Authorities:
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; Memphis Area Transit Authority
Metropolitan Planning Organizations:
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area); Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
*Some partners have chosen to decline press inclusion