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Startups Can Brainstorm Solutions to County Challenges Through STiR Program

by Devyn Giannetti , Program Communications Specialist, Communications Department
hand holding a lightbulbHumans are creatures of habit. We tend to do the same things over and over again—go to the same restaurants, watch the same types of television shows, and take the same route to work.

At work, habits can be a good thing. They allow us to establish a rhythm that frequently results in faster completion of tasks and streamlined processes. But sometimes, when we’re so far into the weeds in a project or process, it can be difficult to take a step back and figure out what’s not working, or how to make a system better.

That’s where the Startup in Residence (STiR) Program comes in.

The Cuyahoga County Office of Innovation and Performance has partnered with City Innovate to engage startups across the country in developing solutions to local government challenges. The STiR Program will provide the opportunity to tap in to emerging technologies, enhance innovation and entrepreneurship and create change through leading by example both locally and nationally.

City Innovate is a nonprofit dedicated to helping governments address their community’s challenges through emerging technologies. Through the STiR Program’s 16-week project period, startups can work directly with County agencies to solve current challenges through a technological lens.

Six comprehensive challenges were developed and submitted to City Innovate after Innovation and Performance worked with County staff to identify current challenges. These include:
  1. An automated, easy-to-use travel reporting solution for Division of Children and Family Services staff completing required home visits, visiting children in foster homes and facilitating visitations between children and parents or other family members.
  2. An automated solution for tracking outreach and collection efforts related to delinquent real estate taxes used by the Delinquent Tax Outreach Unit.
  3. A robust, easy-to-use solution to automate key program management functions for the Office of Early Childhood’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten program.
  4. A market-facing, easy-to-use solution for the Department of Development to better inform business decision-makers of available land and buildings for business attraction, growth and expansion for the county’s 59 municipalities.
  5. A seamless solution to improve access management of the Cuyahoga County Jail for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.
  6. An easy-to-use solution for the Sheriff’s Department to improve scheduling for corrections staff and allow leadership to visualize time and attendance data.
“The Department of Development supports the work of Cuyahoga County’s 59 cities, villages, and townships, as they help private companies grow and expand to create more jobs,” said Deputy Chief Economic Development Officer for the Department of Development, Paul Herdeg. “Many of our local communities need help promoting their available land and buildings to companies that need the room to expand. We are excited by the chance to work with entrepreneurs to use the power of technology to help our local communities make this connection with businesses.”

chart on a computer screenDuring the project period, startups will immerse themselves in the work of the department to understand the problem and develop a tech solution. At the end of the project, the startup presents its prototype and its perceived benefits. The County can then choose whether or not to enter into a contract with the startup and implement the established plans. If the County chooses not to enter into a contract, then there is no cost to the County.

“The Office of Innovation & Performance works with departments to find new ways to solve County challenges, and the STiR Program is an example of that work,” said Chief Innovation & Performance Officer, Catherine Tkachyk. “The use of the project period provides the County with a low-risk avenue to try out new solutions, and if they’re successful, implement them fully.”

Those interested can submit their proposals exclusively through City Innovate’s online application portal. Proposals are due by November 20 at 5 p.m. PST. Applicant interviews will be held November 21-December 20, with selection taking place on December 20. Scoping workshops will take place January 14-25, 2020, and the residency will begin January 28, 2020.