When Boulder Startup Week launched 9 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 its own Innovation and Analytics Officer, Julia Richman! 2018 will be the second year in a row that the City of Boulder has been an official sponsor for Boulder Startup Week! 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 Boulder Startup Week for the second time, as we usher in a new era of innovation and data-driven decision making in the city. 2017 was our first year in existence and we were in full startup mode, developing our strategies and identifying key city and community partners. As many of you know, this meant we were scrappy where we needed to be and strategically opportunistic when we could be. We’re really proud of our results:
- Measured results and published them for our community to see
- Published the first municipal Open Data Policy in the metro area
- Doubled the amount and diversity of data we have opened to the public, including data sets on crime, climbing formations, our tree canopy and public bathrooms
- Built an approach to engaging the public that resulted in a more than 15% y-o-y growth in visits to our Open Data Catalog site
- Worked with data scientists in our community to explore what our data is telling us and publishing those results to the public
- Partnered with local startups through our City as Incubator strategy (see below), including work with Dencty to enhance city decision making for things like trail use through geolocation data, Corus to optimize our vehicle pool fleet through sensors and analytics, and Left Hand Robotics to explore new autonomous technologies for thinks like robotic snow clearing
- Explored municipal use of and community comfort with drones, a case study that helped us improve our process around disruptive technology exploration and adoption
- Selected out of 200 cities to receive a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor’s Challenge Grant to crack the code of shared and sustainable mobility for low income residents
City as Incubator
We’re continuing our program called 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 relationships with innovation-leading partners such as CU-Boulder, MetroLab Network, Bloomberg What Works Cities, Alliance for Innovation, and the CO Smart City Alliance. The application of your tools and ideas can help you, and us, understand them better. We believe that co-creation with startups and creative individuals outside of government is essential to getting at next generation solutions for municipal and community challenges.
City as a Platform
Not only are we working with startups through their work, but you can also tap into resources already available in our community. 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?
- Do you need access to tools and guidance to act on that new, out-there idea? The City of Boulder has a makerspace called BLDG 61, a free community workshop in the Boulder Library that provides maker education and technology to the public in a creative and inclusive environment. Did you know that since its opening, our makerspace has been host to 12 patents, with entrepreneurs coming to use the equipment to prototype their products?! All you need is a library card!
- Are you an artist or digital creative? We’re hosting an open call for artwork for an exhibit at the end of the year in the Canyon Gallery of the Main Library (Dec. 14, 2018- Feb 3, 2019) showcasing art inspired by our open data. The deadline for submissions is May 31st.
We are still hard at work acting on these strategies! In March of 2018, our innovation office and technology department merged to become the Department of Innovation and Technology to better leverage staff and skills across the city. We expect other organizational changes in the coming year to improve collaboration and delivery of innovation. And we are exploring new Innovation Hub space, challenge competitions, catalyst funds, and partnerships that will help spur further innovation in our community.
Stay Tuned! We can’t wait to innovate with you!