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CivStart Calls on Startups to Best Local Government Challenges

The 2024 Government Innovation Challenge and Pitchfest puts gov tech startups in touch with potential local government partners to address pressing public-sector issues. The event will be held in Kansas City, Mo., on April 30.

Closeup of hands raised in a crowd.
A handful of cities across the U.S. are coming together to challenge entrepreneurs and others in the municipal technology sector to explore solutions for today’s modern issues.

CivStart, a gov tech-focused startup accelerator, is leading the 2024 Government Innovation Challenge and Pitchfest, with participation from Richmond and Arlington, Va., Miami-Dade County, Fla., Houston and Los Altos Hills, Calif.

“Those local governments, along with CivStart, will be selecting 10 entrepreneurs to come to an in-person pitchfest where those same cities will be participating as the judges for the event,” explained Nick Lyell, CivStart’s chief impact officer. “A winner will be selected based on scoring the highest on the pitchfest evaluation rubric. All of this is guided by CivStart’s experience designing challenges and evaluating startups, but local governments are making the decisions.”

The areas of focus will be ecosystem-building, providing easier access to local government resources, workforce development, and data for decision-making. The gathering will be held April 30 in Kansas City, Mo.

Los Altos Hills is already participating in National League of Cities’ (NLC) City Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE) program under the leadership of CivStart, said Peter Pirnejad, city manager for Los Altos Hills, a Bay Area city between Palo Alto and Mountain View in Silicon Valley.

It’s a place where residents “want the comforts and privacy of rural living within minutes of leading tech companies, a world class hospital and renowned university,” he added. “We hope to hear from leading innovators in the gov tech space how they envision technology supporting our goal to reduce friction and promote better outcomes for our agency.”

Los Altos, like many cities, would like to explore technology to aid the internal movements of government. This work often translates to better managing staff workloads or improving the citizen experience in areas like, “streamlining the building permit process,” said Pirnejad.

“I am confident that with the support of CivStart and under the leadership of the NLC banner and with the gracious support of our hosts, the Kauffman Foundation, this pitchfest will prove to be a catalyst to that end,” he added in an email.

The focus areas for the challenge were selected by the five participating municipalities, said Lyell.

“Because those cities, counties, and towns reflect a variety of shapes and sizes and geographies, we think the results of this pitchfest will appeal to a variety of leaders — both in local governments watching for top solutions and as reflections of the needs of the market for investors and other startup entrepreneurs,” he added.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.