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Denver launches civic innovation accelerator

Colorado's municipal governments -- as many across the country -- remain cash-strapped, there's a need to make more out of less, harnessing the power of entrepreneurs and innovators to find low-cost solutions to civic issues and needs. That's where the Governmental Entrepreneurship Leadership Accelerator enters the picture.

The accelerator, a partnership of the City and County of Denver, Silicon Flatirons, University of Colorado Law School Dean Phil Weiser and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, gave five law students a chance to work with nine Denver employees to address civic issues over a 12-week fellowship. The fellowship will conclude July 21 with a pitch fest attended by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at Galvanize.

"To our knowledge, no other city or government has collaborated with a university for an accelerator program like this one before," says Courtney Law, communications director with the city's Department of Finance.

The pilot program will build on Blackstone's other work to support startups through its Blackstone LaunchPad and Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. Its charitable arm, through the foundation has committed more than $40 million to such efforts since 2010.

Participants will work to address homeless transportation solutions, developing a retail regulatory framework, providing Internet access for low income individuals and increasing access to composting services. They'll be joined by mentors and guest speakers locally and from across the country to learn about and test entrepreneurial solutions to civic problems.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is supporting the pilot with a $75,000 grant. Silicon Flatirons will use the grant to run the pilot program.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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