Start-Up Collaborations with Cities

Start-up partnerships and collaborations provide cities the ability to trial new services/products with young companies while giving entrepreneurs their first customers in a real world setting.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Lower risk: Structured, short-term collaborations allows cities to test new technology and services with minimal investment

Tips & Techniques

Establishing an office: At a minimum, cities establish a point person who recruits and monitors the start-up's progress.  At a larger scale, a city may want to establish a budget, work space and calendar.  The sponsoring agency will also need to establish insurance requirements. Some cities host information nights to introduce the program and take questions from prospective startups.

Partners: The sponsoring agency should recruit local partners such as a University program and technology incubator or accelerator.

Solutions sought: The two main ways to launch a challenge are (1) open ended or (2) Problem statements.

Program Elements: Programs typically have the follow elements: (1) Program direction, priorities & structure, (2) Recruitment & selection, (3) Initiation and work plan development, (4) Monitoring, evaluation & iteration, (5) Advancement from demonstration to larger pilot or service.  The locality should establish a pathway to procurement in advance. . A locality should also include workshops on business requirements such as permits, business licenses, tax schedules, and the 

Selection Criteria: In choosing start-ups, a locality needs to set minimal selection criteria.  Residency and having a legal structure (e.g. LLC) are typically threshold criteria. Common criteria include: (1) Strength of team and/or partnerships, (2) Understanding of problem and tasks, (3) Defined solution with work plan and metrics, (4) Financial viability, (5) Fit with existing plans and policies,

Hot Buttons: Many start-ups have little background in business and public policy.  The public may be wary of experimental approaches and new technology. 


Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams 

Urban Innovation Kobe (Japan) 

Innovate Durham (NC) 


PGH Labs