Towards a GovTech Community

Edd Elliott

16 September 2017

How can we build a community where GovTech startups can help one another? Public’s Edd Elliott explores.

Veterans of incubator programmes often call the shared learning between startups the ‘Cohort Effect’. Placed in a common space with communal activities, young companies tend to teach each other – this is how you learn the idiosyncrasies of different buyers, share advice on approaching particular investors or pick up tips about finding the best legal advice.

Our GovStart cohort is enjoying the same shared learning. Everyday I see companies of different sizes and business models sharing contacts, advising on sales pitching, and furrowing their brows at the prospect of GDPR – who isn’t?

Mutual exchange is all very well and good for GovStart, but what could the Cohort Effect do for GovTech more widely?

“The GovTech landscape remains a few bright spots on a map: it’s time to start drawing lines between them…”

The number of groups supporting GovTech startups is increasing. Bodies from both within and without the public sector are finding new ways to help startups work with the government. Communities where GovTech startups can help each another, however, are still relatively hard to find.

These communities are important. As any startup will tell you, the prospect of approaching government contracts is daunting. Knowing who to contact in a local council, let alone how to get in front of them, is a challenge.

Webinars, consultancies and accelerators are one means to spread knowledge. But why have a Small Business Crown Representative say something fifty times, when they can say it once and have that information shared? A space – real or virtual – where startups could teach one another would be a huge step forward in demystifying public services.

Why We Built Public

Why We Built Public – Public brings together experience from the public sector, technology and finance to help startups solve public problems.

Contacting SMEs both before and after the publishing of Public 100, it was often apparent to me how little the featured companies knew about one another, and how encouraged they were to be seen as part of a wider group. The GovTech landscape remains a few bright spots on a map: it’s time to start drawing lines between them.

Although SMEs are making greater strides into the public sector market, large vendors remain the norm. Imagine if startups could band together to rival these incumbent suppliers in size. Imagine if rather than a handful of companies discussing cooperation in our offices in Camden, it was a hundred or a thousand startups conversing all over the country. Its potential to improve public services is staggering, and we would all benefit.

What might these GovTech communities look like? A 300 word article couldn’t possibly say. There a few examples out there – and Public are trying to forge our own spaces. We’d love to hear your ideas about how we build this community, and make it happen in the near future.

Join us at the GovTech Summit in Paris, on 12th November 2018 to bring entrepreneurship to the European public sector & transform democratic practices!

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By | 2018-09-21T08:22:05+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Gary Todd September 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Great article, Edd. As you state, like many GovTech startups, at famiio we have had similar challenges raising profile and investment, getting in front of the right people, and finding those in central and local Government who are open-minded and future-thinking enough to explore new solutions, business models and collaboration. For this reason, and largely out of frustration and need, we have decided to start a new GovTech space, aimed at building connections, enabling GovTech collaboration across sectors, and showcasing GovTech companies to government changemakers, both in the UK and globally. Happy to talk more with you and Public about this.

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