Innovating, capacity-building partnership earns award for Durham, NC
Innovate Durham is a partnership program between startups, entrepreneurs and the City and County of Durham, North Carolina.
Innovate Durham a partnership within the City and County of Durham, North Carolina, to learn about new technology and trends, create capacity for innovation in each organization, and support local businesses.
For 12 weeks, participants are paired with a city or county department to work on a pilot project using an innovative idea or technology.
This solution, according to the presentation, is replicable in other communities. For example, after the city first piloted the program, it expanded in year two to include Durham County, which opened a host of other types of government services that could partner with startups. For any jurisdiction with a startup or entrepreneurial community, a similar program could be set up to create structure around partnering, prototyping and experimenting.
Staff learned a lot from the first year of Innovate Durham and continue to refine and shape the program based on feedback from the participants, department staff, and other stakeholders, such as elected officials. The most significant obstacles staff have encountered are internal support and recruiting diverse participants to the program. Staff created buy-in with departments by working with city and county attorney’s offices to craft agreements with participants that provided department partners the confidence that the program had a legal blessing, which made the process more official.