STiR Program Announces 40 Participating Startups for 2019

Using what is quite possibly the fastest RFP process in the gov tech space, a list of 700 applicant companies has been pared down in preparation for this year’s four-month program.

by / January 11, 2019
At the launch of San Francisco's regional Startup in Residence Program, Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath urges attending technologists and startups to innovate in tandem with city departments. Jason Shueh

Startup in Residence (STiR) has announced the 40 companies that will be making up its 2019 cohort.

The companies were selected by the 22 government agencies from across the country participating in STiR this year, pared down from a list of 700 total applicants, said Jay Nath, executive director for STiR’s managing organization, City Innovate. Those companies will now work with government agencies over a four-month period, volunteering their time in exchange for an opportunity to help tackle civic challenges. The idea behind the program is that the opportunity will enable the companies to potentially create products that can go to contract, not just with the agency they work with but with other governments as well. STiR’s ultimate goal since its inception in 2014 is to foster better cooperation between entrepreneurs and the public sector.

This year’s projects will focus on a range of governmental issues, including disaster response efficiency, helping low-income renters get quicker access to their security deposits and facilitating better public transportation on city streets. The governmental agencies also feature more diversity than in previous classes. Whereas STiR once focused entirely on cities in Northern California, it now includes governmental agencies all across the country. In addition to cities, the program also now includes regional authorities and other broader groups.

A full list of teams can be found on STiR’s website. Some examples of pairings include Civis Analytics, a company helping the local government in Norfolk, Va., build flood data analytics tools with decision support for residents, as well as a broader effort in which the company Palmos will help the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) create water infiltration sensors that also explore potential for long-term planning tools aimed at limiting water damage.

One thing Nath emphasized during a recent call about this year’s class was the program’s application process, which doubles as an actual RFP. Nath described them as “rapid RFPs,” noting that it generally takes a company less than an hour to complete one as well as a correspondingly short time for a public agency to respond.

Nath joked that this year’s program may have set a world record for simultaneous RFPs being issued, evaluated and scored. Nath also re-iterated that the program’s goal when it was founded back in 2014 remains the same to this day, “to be a bridge to the startup community, both locally and globally.”

Sarah Daniels, who is one of the founders of the company GovRock, is participating again in 2019 after her company worked with West Sacramento, Calif., last year. Daniels’ company worked with the Northern California city to build a volunteer matching and engagement tool that city officials could use to recruit and organize volunteers for events. Daniels described some of the reasons she and her team liked the program enough to return.

“We had access to a lot of fantastic government workers who were able to tell us what their needs were so we could build the product in record time,” she said.

This year, GovRock will be partnering with the city and county of San Francisco on a project aimed at creating easy access to real-time supply chain info, which emergency response leaders could use to quickly procure and distribute supplies.

STiR’s impact is not going unnoticed among larger government agencies. Shortly after taking office this month, new California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order aimed at modernizing tech procurement for the nation’s most populous state, doing so in a way that resembled the RFP process STiR has designed.

“We’re really thrilled to see the work we’ve done in Startup in Residence, the model, the approach we’re taking being adopted by the state of California,” Nath said.

Zack Quaintance Staff Writer

Zack Quaintance is a staff writer for Government Technology. Prior to that, he spent five years working in daily newspapers, and another five years working in the tech sector. He lives in Northern California.