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Southern Nevada agencies added to Startup in Residence program

Updated August 24, 2018 - 9:13 am

Startups from all over the country might be able to work with government agencies in Southern Nevada on areas such as transportation and public safety.

Henderson, Las Vegas and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada were among 31 agencies chosen for a program developed by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.

The 2019 Startup in Residence program will connect the agencies with startups to solve problems such as transportation, according to Laura Fucci, the chief information officer for Henderson. She said she hopes this program will position the city as a destination for technology companies.

“If we can have more technology companies in our community, it feeds into economic development, it feeds into jobs, it makes our city more vibrant,” she said.

The RTC of Southern Nevada is looking at addressing challenges in areas such as interactions among vehicles and pedestrians, fixed routes — such as a bus system — and paratransit systems, which transport people with disabilities.

Las Vegas is looking into submitting challenges in areas such as public safety, mobility, homelessness, education and the digital divide, said Joanna Wadsworth, program manager at Las Vegas’ Information Technologies Department.

“(The startups) may have new ideas we haven’t explored yet,” Wadsworth said. “There’s always new technology being developed, there’s continuous improvements that are always being developed over time.”

The program could benefit more than just the startups, said Janet Runge, global entrepreneurship experience coordinator at UNLV. Residents could see direct benefits from such as innovations in their day-to-day lives, she said.

“I love the idea that startups can work with communities to create value for both,” she said.

The agencies will submit a list of civic challenges to the program in September. Recruitment for startups runs from Sept. 25 through Nov. 6, and the program will make its final decisions in December. A 16-week residency program starts in February, with the startups working on-site to develop solutions for the agencies.

Jay Nath, executive director for City Innovate, a nonprofit that partnered with Startup in Residence this year to expand to more cities across the United States, said he wanted to work with Nevada to increase regional collaboration.

“The challenges are often regional, whether it’s housing or transportation,” he said. “Being able to coordinate on those challenges is a huge opportunity.”

Nath said the program streamlines the “extremely difficult” experience startups face going through a government procurement process and could lead to contracts with the agencies. He estimated 40 percent of partnerships have ended in contracts.

“We’ve seen (outside) companies feel like they’ve been adopted (by the agencies) and view it as a great place to set up business and grow business,” Nath said.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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