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GovTech to tackle sustainability in 2021 accelerator round

Peter Griffin, Contributor. 20 April 2021, 8:50 am

Local and central government agencies will focus on the four pillars of sustainability - environmental, social, cultural, and economic, in this year's 13-week NZ GovTech Accelerator programme.

GovTech Accelerator is organised each year by Wellington-based Creative HQ and pairs government agencies with technologists and other specialists to tackle complex problems facing the country.

Last year's projects included a Land Information New Zealand effort to improve access to 3D mapping data and a Kāinga Ora led social housing initiative using time banking and virtual token currency to boost community engagement with its well-known site at 139 Grey's Ave in central Auckland.

"The 13-week programme aims to solve root-cause problems, facilitate collaboration, and upskill participants - driving better outcomes for citizens," according to the GovTech pitch for 2021.

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The 2020 Kāinga Ora GovTech Accelerator team

According to a recent stocktake of the programme, the GovTech Accelerator has fostered 30 projects to date, 17 of which are still active and 13 have been funded. Ten of those 13 projects "have had their insights and learnings incorporated back into their government teams' work."

Participants are generally a mix of local and central government agencies, though 12 non-government organisations and start-ups have also been involved in the scheme. Each project comes with a $50,000 fee, usually paid by the partnering public agency.

Based at the GovTech Hub in Wellington, the programme sees selected teams undertake a series of six "sprints'' over 13 weeks, including workshops, training and speaker sessions. Each team receives input from a sprint coach to help keep them on track. 

Applications for GovTech Accelerator 2021 opened on April 1, with project scoping undertaken in May and the selected teams assembled in June-July with the programme beginning towards the end of July A popular demo day is typically held later in the year to showcase the projects and their innovations.

GovTech Accelerator mimics on a small scale overseas efforts, such as that of Singapore's Government Technology Agency to stimulate innovation in government. One NZ GovTech Accelerator project from 2019 has created an Innovation Barometer that "captures data on innovations that are already taking place in an agency as well as the factors that affect that agency's ability to innovate".

The group behind the Innovation Barometer, Activate Innovation, received $204,000 from the Digital Government Leadership Group to pilot the barometer last year.

Applications for the 2021 GovTech Accelerator round are now open.


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