San Antonio Green-Lights $250,000 Economic Development Grant For Geekdom | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Green-Lights $250,000 Economic Development Grant For Geekdom

Nov 7, 2019

San Antonio City Council voted to fund a $250,000 grant to the for-profit, co-working space Geekdom on Thursday to pilot a civic technology incubator.

“Collaborations like this — which give local tech projects a launching ground and public support — can help develop new technologies and new leaders to solve age-old problems,” said Manny Pelaez, councilman for District 8, in a statement.

Geekdom will pilot a two-year Civic Tech Division with that money to assist companies who want to build technology solutions for local governments. Geekdom is the largest co working space in Texas with more than 1,700 members and is owned by San Antonio-billionaire Graham Weston.

The pilot program will build on the success the city feels it achieved partnering with Geekdom on CivTechSA, a similar program, that the city puts $200,000 towards. 

CivTechSA takes startups and pairs them with city departments to find tech solutions. At the end of the 16-week residency, the city can choose to purchase the technological solution the company developed. 

The program was recently honored by ICMA, a professional group for city and county managers, with a community partnership award.

“Similar to our award-winning CivTechSA program, the civic tech incubator is building on how city government can encourage and support business development,” said Brian Dillard chief innovation officer for San Antonio.

The new funding will assist entrepreneurs to set up their businesses so they can take government-oriented products to market. It is designed to assist as many as six companies over the two-year period.

Geekdom has been working with three companies expecting the money to come through for the year. Pawtify, Solovago and Polis will continue to develop their businesses as part of the pilot program. 

Polis wants to use a bluetooth LTE beacon to connect people and businesses along the River Walk. Solovago wants to provide community safety information in an app. Pawtify works with animal shelters to build a notification system so people can find their perfect pet.

“We know how important this incubator will be for creating more companies with positive community impact and launching them into our growing tech ecosystem,” said Charles Woodin, Geekdom CEO.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive.