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New CivStart Cohort Offers Look at Gov Tech’s Future

The nonprofit has accepted eight new companies into its gov tech accelerator program. Those startups work on AI-powered lawmaking, food waste reduction, court access, citizen engagement and other areas.

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Citizen engagement, AI-powered legislation and “green” financing — these are some of the areas highlighted by the most recent selection to the CivStart government technology accelerator program.

The nonprofit’s program, meant to support the production of tech products for public agencies, offers a glimpse of the gov tech future.

Eight startups — out of about 75 applicants — made the cut, and those companies now get two years of mentoring, education, access to public-sector leaders and other services to help them to secure partnerships and scale their businesses.

Those new companies join 42 others that CivStart has helped via its accelerator program. Executives at the eight companies for the 2023 cohort include a Marine veteran, a daughter of Vietnamese refugees and a former Twitter employee.

“We want them to leave the program with the knowledge to navigate the uniqueness and complexity of the state and local gov tech space,” Anthony Jamison, CEO of CivStart, told Government Technology.

The program includes no funding, but Jamison said CivStart will help the companies raise capital.

“We have a large network of investors who want to tap into this space,” he said.

Indeed, while gov tech transaction activity was relatively low in the second quarter of 2023, the year still stands a decent chance of eclipsing 2022 in terms of deal values, according to a recent analysis.

If so, that could lead to more capital making its way to startups such as the eight companies that are now under the tutelage of CivStart:
  • CivicBell: A social platform for online political engagement among verified residents
  • Go See the City: A platform designed to help cities reduce food waste
  • HUUB: A hub meant to bring more resources to small business
  • Legislaide: Using artificial intelligence to help officials draft and manage legislation
  • Rep'd: Video communications tool for civic engagement
  • Societal Systems: Technology to improve court access
  • Tappy Guide: Smart city tech for people with disabilities
  • Zero Circle: An early stage green finance marketplace designed to ease access to such capital
Legislaide came about via the experiences of Vivian Nguyen, a part-time city councilor in Massachusetts.

She told Government Technology she knows firsthand the struggles to get up to speed on city business and the complexities of researching, writing and passing laws.

“It started as a personal solution, and then ChatGPT came out,” she said in describing how her startup began. “It was a huge learning curve, especially for someone without a legal background.”

In related news, urban technology startup platform URBAN-X also recently announced its new cohort of 13 startups focused on climate tech. Most of them are just outside the gov tech space, targeting such areas as real estate and retail.


GovTech Biz
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.