Mass. bill aims to link local gov with tech startups

The legislation would establish an “innovative community” program, paving the way for small tech companies to work with municipalities.

A group of Massachusetts lawmakers wants to spur on the state’s startups.

A new bill put forth by the state Senate Committee on Ways and Means would establish a framework for local governments to purchase startup technology. The extensive process of government acquisitions can be off-putting for nascent companies, according to Cole Boskey, a founder of a health technology startup who pitched the “innovative community” program at an idea-thon in November.

“It’s time consuming, requires expertise and can be expensive to work with government,” Boskey said. “Because of that, either startups are unsuccessful working with government or don’t even try.”

The bill’s champion is Democratic state Sen. Karen Spilka, the founder and co-chair of the Legislature’s Tech Hub caucus and the chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.


“It will help spur startups and new ventures in Massachusetts,” Spilka said. “We consider ourselves an innovation economy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to show that not only are we an innovation economy, we are an innovation government?”

The bill would establish mandatory education and marketing events, where startups would be required to display and demo their technology for municipal officials, while “innovative community personnel” distributed information that would help startup owners better understand the procurement process.

“It connects and educates,” Spilka said. “We’re pulling together best practices to make the steps of the buying and selling process easier and connecting startups to municipalities and vice versa.”

Qualifying projects could include a cellphone-charging bench and new software that would help government workers communicate with each other.

The program would be optional for all Massachusetts municipalities and would cost the state $750,000 per year.


Read more at MassLive.

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