Applications Accepted April 14–May 16; Informational Webinar Set for April 20
Local entrepreneurs seeking ways to develop and test their products and services with Durham’s local governments are encouraged to apply for the 2022 Innovate Durham Program.
Innovate Durham, a partnership between the City of Durham and Durham County Government that allows entrepreneurs access to both local governments as a laboratory to test products and ideas, is now accepting applications for its fifth cohort from Thursday, April 14 through Monday, May 16 at 5 p.m.
To help interested entrepreneurs learn more about this year’s program, registration is now open to attend a virtual informational webinar on Wednesday, April 20 from noon until 1 p.m., and will include an opportunity for questions from interested applicants.
According to the City of Durham Office of Performance and Innovation Director Andrew Holland, the City and County have a new equity focus to reach participants in Innovate Durham programming. “Innovate Durham has always been a vital program in advancing our vision and strategic goals of Shared Economic Prosperity and being an Innovative and High-Performing Organization,” Holland said. “New for this year, we’re excited to incorporate more deliberate efforts to encourage historically underutilized businesses to apply for this program. We want Innovate Durham to serve as a welcoming space to introduce innovation through practical experience for those who have traditionally been left out of those spaces.. This year, we hope to elevate Innovate Durham as one of the many critical tools we have in our toolbox to enable more equitable wealth building among our entrepreneurial community.”
According to Durham County Economic Development Officer Andy Miracle, participants will be able to work with City and County departments and have access to their data and staff as they refine their products and services. “Innovate Durham offers our two local governments an important opportunity to partner with small businesses as they work through critical growth phases by providing access to data and refining proof of concept,” Miracle said. “At the same time, this program provides our local governments a chance to resolve issues impacting our operations through innovative business solutions. We see this as a mutually beneficial partnership that allows us to work directly with small businesses in a meaningful way.”
This year, the program will be conducted virtually with some hybrid and in-person options. Members of this year’s cohort will be able to participate in workshops and meetings that will further explore innovation, the City and County government bid and contract processes as well as opportunities for networking.
During the 2021 program, three Durham-based companies worked closely with City and County departments to bring new, innovative solutions to both local governments. Some of these solutions included new customer service technology, co-working spaces, and backup power for buildings utilizing rooftop solar panels.
John Saussele, the founder of DayWatt and one of last year’s participants, said this program allowed his team to refine their business case and contract their product with other entities. “It was an outstanding opportunity for DayWatt to gain access to seasonal energy data for larger buildings, and the City and County benefited because they wanted to explore more cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions by using renewable energy in innovative ways,” Saussele said. “The DayWatt system supports the reduced emissions goal through the use of solar energy, while also enabling buildings to provide additional high-value emergency support to the community during power outages.”
To apply for the program, an application form must be submitted by May 16, 2022. Applicants will be evaluated on a variety of criteria and a select number will be invited to partner with the City and County during this year’s 16-week program.
For more information or to submit an online application, visit the Innovate Durham webpage or contact City of Durham ICMA Fellow Mary Grace Stoneking by email, or Durham County Library Business Analyst Hannah Hemphill by email.