Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm looking for entrepreneurs in Civic Engagement

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

I was recently asked to help raise awareness of the 2014 Young Entrepreneur Award by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). While I don't typically run sponsored posts I decided to green light this one; and, in the spirit of full disclosure, I thought it would be appropriate to share why:
  • I am currently on interchange.
  • It was made by an arms length public sector organization whose mission  I generally support. 
  • BDC is venturing into new territory, levering online "influencers" (their term, not mine) to generate interest; these activities make sense and ought be supported.
  • I spoke at length with the person running the campaign and got a great vibe.
  • The requirements aren't overly prescriptive, you'll notice BDC logo at the bottom of this post and a referring URL, but all of the contents of the post are distinctively my own and not vetted by any one.
  • The compensation is a very modest honorarium and I have decided to flow it to an organization whose mission is to support entrepreneurship, which to me seems like a win-win and keeps with the spirit of campaign.
So yes, this is a sponsored post, but that doesn't make it any less relevant, or any less me. Now, on with the show ...

I'm looking for entrepreneurs, but not just any entrepreneurs
While the award money ($100k) could obviously help secure the future of another up and coming boutique design firm or online service delivery company, it could also do something a little more profound. The way I see it the prize money could just as easily be used to help civic innovators gain ground on their private sector counterparts, it could be used to scale small civic engagement firms or budding data analytics companies. Both are incredibly important to the future of public policy in Canada (See: Towards Copernicus) and ripe for investment.

That is, if those entrepreneurs exist
I've spent time speaking with young tech entrepreneurs, trying to encourage them to move into these spaces (See: Equip Leaders to Lead), but to be honest, my own personal forays to bring these worlds together haven't proven all that successful (See: This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things in Government). 

My sincere hope is that the ecosystem has evolved since then
If you or someone you know is working in this space, reach out. I'm interested in what you are doing, what you've learned and what you've got planned for the future. Furthermore, if you think you've got a shot at the grant money and can use it to help build a better civic engagement or big data analytics mousetrap, then apply. I don't have the inside track, nor can I exert influence on the process, but I'm happy to lend you my experience to help you figure out the best way to do it. 

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