When Boulder Startup Week launched 8 years ago as the ORIGINAL Startup Week, Boulder was ripe for an event to bring together the entrepreneurial ecosystem in a celebration of all things startup. As BSW has grown over the years, the City of Boulder has been recognizing the influence of the startup scene on its own brand — so much so that the City has hired a new Innovation and Analytics Officer, Julia Richman this year and has become an official sponsor of Boulder Startup Week 2017! We welcome the support from our beloved home city. Here’s a guest post by Julia to introduce some of the City’s initiatives related to innovation.
Thanks for the love, City of Boulder. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!
The City of Boulder is delighted to sponsor week for the first time, as we usher in a new era of innovation and data-driven decision making in the city. I was hired in January as Boulder’s Innovation and Analytics Officer – a new role designed to help harness the already innovative work we’re doing across the city and to drive adoption of leading edge tools and methods that better demonstrate outcomes and push us out of our comfort zone.
Since January, I have been working with other members of our innovation team to understand the interest of our community – you! – in open data and performance management. We’ve hosted user groups, met with community members, and many city staff to understand where we are, and where we can go. The result of the past few months of effort is our Innovation Architecture, a framework for addressing disruption and harnessing the creativity of our community and our staff. For a narrative description of the architecture, you can read the recent information packet provided to city council on this topic.
The architecture has many elements that are intended to build organizational capacity in this important area: opportunities to increase data and analytics skills, develop expertise in visualization and process improvement and create the discipline of continuous improvement into our culture. These are all areas that are essential to keeping our high performing community on the leading edge. The strategy is also focused on external relationship building; we want to increase the bandwidth in our civic fiber. We want to engage our community members in many areas of our strategy. Below we’ve highlighted a few we think might be of particular interest to participants in Boulder Startup Week.
City as Incubator
This year, we’re beginning to frame out a program we’re calling City as Incubator. As an entrepreneur, you may have needs for beta test sites for your products, technologies and services. What better place to test than our city infrastructure? We have tons of data, assets and daily interactions. The applications of your tools and ideas can help you, and us, understand them better. Some cities have a startup in residence, but we’re thinking bigger than that! If you’re interested in helping us frame this program, get in touch!
City as a Platform
The municipal environment is not only a great place to plug in; we can also offer different types talents and tools. The concept of city as a platform should function much like technology as a platform in that we build an easily integrated base into which many different community members and constituencies can engage and connect. So what does our city as a Platform strategy look like in real life?
- Did you know that the City of Boulder has a makerspace called BLDG 61? Did you know that since its opening, our maker space been host to 6 to 12 patents with entrepreneurs coming to use the equipment to prototype their products?! All you need is a library card.
- Have you heard of #treeopp? Members of our community and the city partnered together to turn tree debris into opportunity.
On May 2, 2017, Boulder officially signed an open data policy. While the city has been committed to open data for a few years, the formal adoption of this policy is a core element of our innovation strategy. The policy, as well as currently available data sets, can be accessed here. Boulder currently offers more than 46 data sets in six different file formats. These range in focus from planning, land use and bike paths, to trailheads and prairie dogs. We plan to post a few new data sets a month, and really want our publication to be demand driven. Interested in something that we haven’t already published data for? Let us know by submitting a request on the open data page.
We can’t wait to innovate with you!