Diverse Resources Available For Government Tech


Civic technology has grown exponentially since Tim O’Reilly first spoke about Government 2.0 and government as a platform in 2009. I often get inquiries about resources for entrepreneurs in this market, so I’ve compiled a few suggestions for finding supportive resources.

In addition to the growing government technology market, there has been a rapid increase in resources available to government technology companies, housed within and outside of government.

For example, within government there are accelerators such as FastFWD, a collaboration among The City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group, a social enterprise accelerator, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, or the STiR program in San Francisco. Outside of government, there are programs such as Tumml, an urban ventures accelerator based in San Francisco and Points of Light, a national civic accelerator.

YCombinator, a well-known startup accelerator, listed government as a key industry, noting “government is a very large customer with very bad software.” Social good accelerators such as Impact Engine focus on for-profit entities tackling environmental and social issues, and are open to government technology companies.

There are numerous physical spaces, opening their doors to civic hackers and entrepreneurs as well. There are numerous civic coworking and event spaces  such as 1776 in DC, 1871 in Chicago, and Civic Hall in New York. In the Bay Area, ProspectSV is a space that supports emerging technology companies.

Angel investors, foundations and VCs: numerous investors and philanthropists are engaging with the government technology space. Recently, Ron Bouganim launched the Govtech Fund, a venture capital fund specifically for government technology. From Miami, Urban.us provides funding and a community to promising urban startups. Foundations such as Google.org the Knight Foundation and Omidyar do research and funding in civic and government technology.

Even procurement, making it easier for government to choose, and companies of all sizes to provide, the best solutions and services for today's challenges,is a topic where civic startups receive support. In 2014, Boston, Nashville, Palo Alto and Raleigh worked together on a procurement solution: MCIC. Within MCIC, these four cities co-funded a single technology that emerged from a hackathon. Additionally, US Communities, a cooperative purchasing program recently posted an RFP seeking innovative solutions, applications, products and services. Citymart, a global procurement platform, has worked with over 50 cities.

There are a lot more tools and resources available for those interested in learning about civic and government technology entrepreneurship. Some of these are readily available online whereas others are courses or private networks. David Bland, a mentor at Code for America outlines useful tactics for a civic technology company. There is even a course on public entrepreneurship taught by Mitch Weiss at HBS.

This is by no means a complete list. Have a suggestion for a resources? Ping us at companies@codeforamerica.org.

 

By Dharmishta Rood

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