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Press Release

Greater Portland Tech Challenge returns with a focus on equitable Smart Cities solutions

November 01,2018 | By Anna Marum
November 1, 2018

Media Contact
Anna Marum
Greater Portland Inc

Greater Portland Tech Challenge accepting applications for 2019 event
The Feb. 27 event will pair tech firms and public agencies to workshop equitable Smart Cities solutions.

PORTLAND, OR -- Greater Portland Inc is now accepting applications from tech firms for the Greater Portland Tech Challenge.
The annual program, produced in partnership with the Technology Association of Oregon, pairs agencies, organizations and government with tech firms to tackle a wide range of problems using Smart Cities solutions. The Tech Challenge culminates on Feb. 27 with a live pitch and workshop event.
“The innovative projects that come out of our Tech Challenge are prime examples of the power of public-private partnerships,” said Janet LaBar, president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc.
The first Tech Challenge addressed issues around mobility. The upcoming program focuses on a wide range of Smart Cities problem-solving through an equity lens.
“How do we build, create and sustain an economy that works for everyone?” LaBar asked. “Our success as a region depends on our ability to innovate solutions that make life better for all, not just a few.”
This is how the Tech Challenge works:
  • August-October: Public agencies submit a challenge.
  • November-January: Tech firms interested in solving those problems apply for a spot in the Tech Challenge.
  • Feb. 27, 2019: Agencies and firms attend the Tech Challenge at Daimler Trucks North America headquarters. First, each agency has 3-4 minutes to reiterate its challenge. Next, firms have 3-4 minutes to pitch specific solutions. Firms may pitch solutions to multiple agencies. Then, agencies select up to three firms with which to have a one-on-one consultation to discuss different ways of solving their problem. Finally, agencies announce which company they would like to continue working with.
  • March - September: Agencies work with firms on demonstration or pilot projects.
The inaugural Tech Challenge, held last February, brought together 18 agencies and tech firms under one roof to workshop solutions.
A few of the pilot projects that came out of 2018’s Tech Challenge:
City of Lake Oswego + 10Branch + AECOM
Explore alternative transportation solutions (including self-driving shuttles and bike lanes) for the redevelopment of the Lake Oswego-Portland trolley line.
City of Hillsboro + Mapillary
Use street-level imagery to identify fixable issues such as trees blocking stop signs or stretches of road in need of sidewalks.
Multnomah County + Hack Oregon
Use permit data to share construction-related road disruptions.
WSDOT + DKS Associates
Explore solutions like data-fed digital signage that help drivers heading south from the Vancouver area decide when to use public transit options like C-Tran.
Adrian Pearmine, Smart Cities director at transportation planning and engineering firm DKS Associates, said the Tech Challenge allowed his team to approach old clients in new ways.
“It was an opportunity for us to introduce our out-of-the-box thinking on new problems,” he said, “even to existing clients in some cases.”
Ryan Cook, director of strategic operations at Mapillary, said the Tech Challenge solved a problem with the typical RFP process: By the time agencies have vetted possible solutions, that technology is already out of date.
“I think that’s one of the unique attributes of the Tech Challenge,” he said. “We could instantly connect, and we could address specific problems.”
For Eliot Rose, Metro’s technology strategist, the Tech Challenge enabled him to focus on problem solving.
“It created a structure where you get to hear from everyone, and then dig in deeper,” he said. “That really changed the conversation for me. Because instead of gauging whether someone is trying to sell me on a problem, I got to share my problem, look at different possibilities, and then choose the best solution.”
Skip Newberry, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Oregon, said the Greater Portland Tech Challenge grew from the region’s strong tradition of creative collaboration.
“This event is a new approach to problem-solving that allows firms to be nimble and enables agencies to take full advantage of the tech talent in our region,” he said. “This public-private model works, and we’re already seeing others emulate it.”
Interested tech firms may contact Lloyd Purdy at lloyd.purdy@greaterportlandinc.com, or apply at http://greaterportland2020.com/techchallenge.

Photos from February’s Tech Challenge are available here.
About Greater Portland Inc: Greater Portland Inc provides support and services to companies seeking to relocate or expand in Greater Portland, a region that spans two states and seven counties. A true public-private partnership model, Greater Portland Inc is supported by more than 70 public-sector partners and private investors who are committed to advancing regional economic development through job growth and investment. Greater Portland Inc and partners shape the region’s economic future and market the region to the world. Learn more at greaterportlandinc.com.

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