Innovate Durham: An Innovation Partnership Program

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About Innovate Durham 

The Innovate Durham program provides a platform where local startups use technology to make the City of Durham more efficient, sustainable and inclusive.The 12-week program will grant access to City data and infrastructure while providing a testbed for products or services. As a significant client and testing ground, the City gives entrepreneurs a valuable use case for their products and services. This exposure can potentially help attract new investors and clients. Participants will get access to City resources and networks as well as mentoring and guidance from a City champion. In return for providing a valuable testing ground and special access to City resources to selected entrepreneurs, the City hopes to learn about new technologies and approaches to improve the delivery of services or provide savings to Durham residents. 

Goals of the program include:

  • Improving economic vitality, social equity and environmental quality in Durham
  • Improving the quality and efficiency of City services and operations
  • Supporting existing local innovators
  • Advancing the City's Strategic Plan, Vision & Mission

More Information

What is the Innovate Durham program?
The City’s Innovate Durham program is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply to develop, test, and scale innovative solutions with the support of Durham data and infrastructure to solve community problems and improve City operations.

What criteria will be used to determine which companies will be accepted to participate in Innovate Durham?
The criteria used to choose participants for Innovate Durham may include the following criteria, but is not limited to: improving economic vitality, social equity and environmental quality in Durham; improving the quality and efficiency of City services and operations; supporting existing local innovators; and advancing the City's strategic plan, vision and mission. Selected participants and the City will agree upon a written memorandum of understanding to outline the specific needs and expectations of the testing period.

Who is on the review committee?
The Innovate Durham committee will consist of personnel from the City Manager's Office, Budget & Management Services, Information Services, Transportation, the Office of Workforce & Economic Development, and the Office of Performance & Innovation.

How will Innovate Durham be structured?
Selected participants will partner with the City for a 12-week testing period, which will begin in September and finish by December 31, 2017. Participants will be required to meet with the Office of Performance & Innovation every two weeks to discuss the progress of the partnership.

Will the City invest financially in my company during the Innovate Durham program?
Companies that are selected to participate in Innovate Durham will not receive any financial investment from the City. However, during the trial period, the City will allow these companies to have access to City data, resources, personnel and infrastructure to provide a testbed for their product or service.

What does the City of Durham get out of the program?
The City hopes to learn about new technologies and approaches from the partnership program in the hopes of improving operations or solving community problems. The City will also work with participants to obtain any necessary permissions or licenses to use and apply what was learned in the trial period for the benefit of Durham residents.

Do any other cities have a program like Innovate Durham?
Yes, several cities across the country have very similar programs to Innovate Durham. Those cities include Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

When are the applications due?
Applications for the 2018 Cohort will open later this year.

Have more questions?
Contact: Ben Kittelson, Caley Patten or Josh Edwards.