Innovate Durham 

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Contact US

Lyndsay Gavin

[email protected]

Have an idea, product, or service you'd like to pilot with your local government?

Applications for the 2023-24 cohort are now closed.

Yellow Horizontal Line Divider 1500 x18About Innovate Durham

We're turning local government into a laboratory for startups and entrepreneurs.

Innovate Durham is a 16-week partnership program that turns the City of Durham and Durham County into a lab to test new ideas, products, or services. Innovate Durham participants will work with a Durham City or County department to test, scale and innovate new ideas and technology. Participants get access to staff, data, and facilities to assist with making Durham more efficient and encourage a culture of innovation at the City and County.

Program Goals

  • Test Latest Technology: Keep Durham informed of new trends and technologies by opening the doors of government to startups and entrepreneurs.
  • Build Innovation Capacity: Build capacity for innovation work by allowing departments to partner with program participants to test new ideas and use new technology.
  • Support Local Businesses: Provide opportunities for businesses to work with the City or County, giving them a use case to attract clients or investors.
  • Direct Benefit to Organizations: This year we are very excited to have cohort members involved whose products will solve organizational challenges within the City of Durham and Durham County.

Yellow Horizontal Line Divider 1500 x18More Information

How is Innovate Durham structured? 

Selected participants will partner with the City for a 16-week testing period. Participants will be required to attend several in-person events: program kickoff, cohort check ins, and a Demo Day. Participants will also be expected to check in with Innovate Durham staff every two weeks to discuss the progress of the project. Selected participants will agree to a memorandum of understanding before the pilot period starts: Sample Innovate Durham MOU (PDF). 

Is there a financial investment as part of Innovate Durham? 

No, there is no financial investment as a part of Innovate Durham. However, during the program participants will have access to City and County data, resources, personnel and infrastructure. The intention is to create a laboratory for startups and entrepreneurs to test their product or service. 

What does the City or County get out of the program?

The City and County are using Innovate Durham to encourage a culture of innovation by creating partnerships with the business community to share ideas, collaboratively solve problems and improve operations. Both organizations hope to learn about new technologies and ideas.