Organizations support the growth of tech in cities

Code for America, a US-based non-profit organization that pairs technologists with city governments to improve service delivery has announced that over 230 startups have applied to be part of its newly launched Civic Accelerator – a record number for civic-minded efforts. The Civic Accelerator program provides early stage civic startups with seed capital and mentoring to help get them off the ground.

CivSource was the first organization to report on Code for America when it launched in 2009, since then the organization has grown dramatically, helping cities throughout the US. The organization’s latest project – Civic Accelerator – provides a complement to the municipal work being done by its yearly class of fellows. The project launched last month and offered civic startups one month to apply.

The program is the first such program to be launched and will offer participants a springboard to amplify market awareness of their product, additional funding, business mentoring specific to the “government 2.0” space, and introductions to a broad network of civic leaders and potential investors. Funding awards of $25,000 along with office space in San Francisco are among the program’s benefits.

According to the organization, applications run the spectrum from citizen engagement to crime enforcement. Participants for the first round will be finalized next month.

In New York this week, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is also honoring tech-savvy communities through its yearly awards program. Each year, the organization identifies its top seven intelligent communities from a pool of applicants. Intelligent communities recognized by the organization are typically defined by broad based technology initiatives including local high-speed networks, job training and programs to close the digital divide.

ICF communities are chosen from throughout the world and meet in a yearly summit to discuss how they were able to upgrade their cities through technology and share thought leadership about the way forward for municipal economies in the 21st century. Top Seven cities use the designation as a economic development tool and a means of engaging local residents in civic development efforts. The top seven cities this year are: Oulu, Finland; Quebec City, Quebec; Riverside, California; Stratford, Ontario; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Austin, Texas.

Initiatives in these communities include development of ultra-fast citywide networks, technology skills training, smartphone applications and economic development. One notable project is happening in Riverside, California: individuals can take technology skills classes and at the course receive a free computer from the city as a means of closing the digital divide for people who would otherwise be unable to afford access.

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