CivStart looking for tech startups to solve ‘challenges’ in 5 cities

CivStart is looking for tech startup companies to partner with five cities across the country to help solve civic "challenges."
(Getty Images)

UPDATE: The deadline for submissions to the CivStart challenges has been extended to April 28. This story has been updated.

To help local governments find tech-based solutions, the nonprofit innovation hub CivStart is looking for startup companies to partner with five cities across the country to help solve civic “challenges,” and the application window is closing soon.

Nick Lyell, co-founder and chief impact officer at CivStart, told StateScoop that city governments come to his nonprofit with challenges they’re facing that could potentially be solved by innovative technologies. The challenges, which are then launched through CivStart’s yearlong City Inclusive Ecosystem Program with support from the National League of Cities and the Kauffman Foundation, are designed to facilitate a lower barrier-to-entry for small and medium-sized government technology startups.

This year’s round of challenges include a wide range of issues. Grand Rapids, Michigan, is looking for startup companies that can streamline their minority-owned and women-owned business registration and procurement processes. Raleigh, North Carolina, is looking for solutions to increase the supply of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, with a $5,000 prize for the best solution.


After the submission window for the challenges close, Lyell said, cities will have the opportunity to test top solutions and may choose to pilot one or more of the submissions.

CivStart also provides participating local government employees with a facilitated peer learning environment and hosts quarterly meetings for feedback and coaching to help narrow down which challenges could have technical solutions.

The deadline for submissions is April 28. A full list of all the open challenges can be found on CivStart’s website.

“These challenges are really written with startups in mind,” Lyell said. “So I know that deadline is coming up pretty soon, but I hope that any startup that thinks that they might have a good solution will take the 30 minutes to an hour it might take to put together a good quality application. The cities are really excited about exploring a wide range of potential solutions to these challenges. And they don’t know what they don’t know.”

Latest Podcasts