Later this month, the Durham community is invited to a free virtual event to learn more about the work accomplished by the 2021 Innovate Durham cohort participants at the program’s fourth annual Demo Day.
Innovate Durham is a program that allows startups and entrepreneurs to use local government as a lab to test out an idea, product or service by getting access to staff, data, and facilities. Demo Day, a virtual celebration of this innovation and partnership, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and attendees can now register to attend. This year’s cohort will share their experiences and participate in interactive networking showcase where participants can chat one-on-one to get more personal insights into the projects and learn about the results of the solutions tests.
Earlier this year, City of Durham and Durham County staff chose three partners for the 2021 cohort. This year’s cohort was challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic as it sought to collaborate with staff, many of whom were working remotely. Despite the challenges, the startups and local government staff were able to successfully partner to achieve many of the desired goals and benchmarks working with multiple departments in both local governments to better test their solutions. The 2021 partners and their assigned test-case departments were as follows:
Acta Solutions: Durham County Register of Deeds
Acta Solutions is a software-as-a-service company that automates customer service communications for local governments to save time, increase revenue, and speedily provide residents, developers, and businesses with the services they need by intelligently suggesting automated responses that staff reviews before sending.
Coworks: Durham County Department of Social Services
Coworks provides a space management portal that allows users to organize billing, conference room/meeting space, desk reservations and more as well as a member portal to assist people working in a shared space.
DayWatt: City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County Department of General Services
DayWatt's technology enables rooftop solar installations on commercial buildings to supply long-term backup power to the facility during blackouts, a feature unavailable with conventional renewable energy approaches. In addition to offering cost-effective power outage resiliency, the system also provides lifetime benefits through lower energy bills, decreased maintenance, and reduced carbon emissions.
After the startup showcase, attendees may also participate in a panel focusing on the intersection of local government and private sectors and how the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated a need for innovative solutions to create more equitable and resilient communities. Brave New World: Planning for Innovation, Equity, and Resilience Post-Pandemic will feature President and CEO Kevin Dick with Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Director of Growth Tim Scales with American Underground, and Division Manager Tom Darling with the City of Albuquerque Employee Learning Center. The audience will be encouraged to ask their own questions throughout the panel discussion.
Including this year’s cohort companies, almost 20 businesses have participated in the Innovate Durham program since its inception in 2017. For more information, visit the Innovate Durham website or contact program managers Mariel Klein by email or Hannah Hemphill by email.