Innovate Durham: An Innovation Partnership Program

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Innovate Durham is a 12-week partnership program that turns the City of Durham and Durham County into a lab to test new ideas, products or services. Through the program participants get access to staff, data and facilities to assist with making Durham more efficient and encourage a culture of innovation at the City and County. 



Demo Day

Come celebrate the 2018 Innovate Durham cohort. Six startups were selected to work with local government staff at the City of Durham and Durham County. For 12 weeks these startups have been testing out their ideas, doing research and working with staff in departments ranging from Public Health to Fleet Management and Solid Waste. Demo Day is a chance for them to share what they worked on and show off their company. So join us!

Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Time: 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham, NC 27701
RSVP: Event Link


2018 Innovate Durham Partners Chosen to Begin Testing Solutions

Seven Startup Companies to Bring New Ideas into City Hall & Durham County Government; Public-Private Innovation Partnership Program Expands in Second Year 

Media Coverage:


Tech on Tap Conversation: Innovate Durham

Listen to our interview with WRAL TechWire about Innovate Durham. Ben Kittelson and Caley Patten sat down with the Tech on Tap host Micheal Baylor to talk about how Innovate Durham came about, what we are hoping to achieve and how the City of Durham and Durham County are encouraging a culture of innovation.

About Innovate Durham 

We're turning local government into a laboratory for startups and entrepreneurs. Innovate Durham participants will work with a Durham City or County department to test, scale and innovate new ideas and technology. Through the program startups will get access to staff, data and facilities to assist with making Durham more efficient and encourage a culture of innovation at the City and County.

The 12-week partnership program turns the City of Durham and Durham County into a lab to test your idea, product or service.

To Apply

Applications for the 2018 Cohort closed July 23, 2018. Applicants agree to the Innovate Durham Program Criteria & Expectations by submitting an application. The 2018 Cohort features seven companies that will work with a variety of City and County departments.

Program Goals

  • Test Latest Technology: Keep Durham informed of new trends and technologies by opening the doors of government to startups and entrepreneurs.
  • Build Innovation Capacity: Build capacity for innovation work by allowing departments to partner with program participants to test new ideas and use new technology.
  • Support Local Businesses: Provide opportunities for businesses to work with the City or County, giving them a use case to attract clients or investors.

More Information

What is the Innovate Durham program?
The Innovate Durham program is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply to develop, test, and scale innovative solutions with the support of City and County staff, data and infrastructure.

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 the quality and efficiency of City or County services and operations; supporting existing local innovators; building capacity for innovation in City and County departments; and, advancing the City and County strategic plans. Selected participants will agree upon a written memorandum of understanding to outline the specific needs and expectations of the pilot period.

Who is on the review committee?
The Innovate Durham committee consists of personnel from both the City and County. In 2018 the review committee will be:

  • Wanda Page, Deputy City Manager
  • Keith Chadwell, Deputy City Manager
  • Bertha Johnson, City Budget & Management Services Director
  • Terry Bellamy, City Transportation Director
  • Tammy Baggett, County Library Director
  • Tara Blackley, Deputy County Public Health Director
  • Leslie O'Connor, County Emergency Management Division Chief
  • Kyle Manning, County Sr. Project Manager

How will Innovate Durham be structured?
Selected participants will partner with the City for a 12-week testing period, which will begin August 20, 2018 and finish by November 20, 2018. Participants will be required to attend three in person events: program kickoff in August, a mid-point status check in October and Demo Day in December. Participants will also be expected to check in with Innovate Durham staff every two weeks to discuss the progress of the project. Selected participants will agree to a memorandum of understanding before the pilot period starts: Sample Innovate Durham MOU.

Is there a financial investment as part of Innovate Durham?
No, there is no financial investment as a part of Innovate Durham. However, during the program participants will have access to City and County data, resources, personnel and infrastructure. The intention is to create a laboratory for startups and entrepreneurs to test their product or service.

What does the City or County get out of the program?
The City and County are using Innovate Durham to encourage a culture of innovation by creating partnerships with the business community to share ideas, collaboratively solve problems and improve operations. Both organizations hope to learn about new technologies and ideas. 

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.

Have more questions?
Contact: Ben Kittelson, Caley Patten, Eric Marsh or Toney Thompson.