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Growing an Inclusive Govtech Ecosystem — A Research Project

We talk a lot about building inclusive govtech ecosystems at CivStart. When (white) 18th century philosophers thought about the state of nature, they saw (or projected) domination and all against all. But we now know that ecosystems are not just competitive, but critically dependent on diversity to function, and full of cooperation, adaptability, spontaneity, and resiliency. A healthy govtech startup ecosystem functions on similar principles.

The current startup ecosystems that exist are better at some of those principles (i.e. competition, adaptability, and spontaneity) than others. Diversity, resiliency, and cooperation are three particular areas that CivStart is investing our time and resources. We believe that those most capable of meeting under-served community challenges are entrepreneurs from those communities. Through our cohorts, our work with local government leaders and innovators, and our partnerships with industry experts, we are growing a complex, inclusive, and sustainable ecosystem that governments can continue to be proud to partner with.

To take this work to the next level, we have begun a research project by identifying some of the big outlines — a framework — of some of the major barriers facing underrepresented entrepreneurs and some hypothesized steps that a range of actors can take in making a startup ecosystem (we are particularly focused on government technology) more inclusive. The first outcome of this is presented in our Framework for Inclusive Govtech Ecosystems Report.

What’s more, we are assembling a Task Force of public, private, non-profit, and academic experts to partner with us and take this research forward: identifying additional hypotheses for intervention based on experience and research, gathering data to assess the most impactful action-steps, and working with partner govtech leaders (across public-private divides) to run pilot projects and evaluate and share the results.

Critically, these are not just words that will live on a (web)page, these are evidence-based strategies and actions that will guide our work. We are more committed than ever to our mission and vision of an honest and inclusive ecosystem of solutions that serve local governments and their communities.

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