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The original item was published from 10/19/2023 8:50:30 AM to 11/20/2023 4:00:01 AM.

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City of Durham News

Posted on: October 19, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Innovate Durham Seeks Entrepreneurs for 2023 Program

Innovate Durham 2023 accepting applications through November 19, 2023.

Local Government to Become a Laboratory for Startups & Entrepreneurs; Applications Accepted October 18—November 19


Local startups and entrepreneurs looking for a way to develop and test their products and services may now apply for the 2023 Innovate Durham program.

Innovate Durham, a partnership between the City and County of Durham that allows entrepreneurs to use local government as a laboratory to test products and ideas, is now taking applications for its sixth cohort through midnight on Sunday, November 19, 2023. The 16-week pilot period pairs small businesses with County and City departments to share ideas, gather data, and iterate and refine products that advance local government services and priorities. At the same time, entrepreneurs can improve their business concept by working directly with Durham government departments.

For the first time since the program’s inception in 2017, Innovate Durham is soliciting specific services to further local government strategic goals. While organizations outside of these focus areas may still apply, the program is releasing a Call to Innovation in the following areas: Black Maternal Health, Employee Health and Engagement, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Technology Access and Digital Literacy, and Waste Diversion. Also, for the first time, there is a small amount of funding available for potential service contracts at the conclusion of the cohort. For additional details on these initiatives, interested entrepreneurs are invited to review the application.

“Innovate Durham offers the City and the County 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,” said Durham County Director of Strategy and Performance Josh Edwards. “At the same time, this program provides local governments with a chance to resolve issues impacting their operations through innovative business solutions. We see this as a mutually beneficial partnership that allows our local governments to work directly with small businesses in a meaningful way.”

During the 2022 program, five Durham-based organizations worked closely with the City and County to bring innovative solutions to local government. Some of these services included improved access to mental healthcare, exploring the applications of heat pump systems, using the metaverse for workforce development and resident engagement, preparing young black men for employment opportunities, and pitch training for cohort participants.  

"The City is thrilled to continue our commitment to support Innovate Durham for a sixth cohort, forging dynamic partnerships between businesses and local government,” said City of Durham Performance and Innovation Team Manager Lyndsay Gavin. “This year, we've harnessed valuable feedback from past participants to ensure that this iteration promises productive matches, fostering innovation and progress in our city."

Since the Innovate Durham program launched its first cohort, 24 companies have partnered with City and County departments to pilot their products and services through the program.

For more information or to submit an online application, visit the Innovate Durham webpage or contact Durham County Economic Development Coordinator Sabria Futrell by email.

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