The Knight Foundation’s exhaustive and widely scoped study of nearly $700 million dollars in investments in “civic technology” presents a shocking picture of Minnesota’s engagement.
Minnesota accounts for only 0.1% of the amount invested in start-ups and grants in civic technology. Other than some $625,000 invested by the Knight Foundation itself in E-Democracy’s inclusive online community engagement in St. Paul neighborhoods (a grant), Minnesota is completely off the radar.
As a state that prides itself on civic innovation and the use of technology, this gap in activity is dramatic. Our window of opportunity to be a place where you invest in commercial and nonprofit social enterprises pursuing digital technology for good strategies is closing as other regions step up and invest in their civic technology ecosystem.
As legislative committees explore opportunities for economic development and broadband promotion with the supplemental budget this session, exploring how to foster investment in civic technology should be included. As the House targets for “government operations” and the supplemental budget are zero, funding for the “open government” half of the Open Minnesota proposal is unlikely. However, the economic development and economic efficiency aspect of civic technology and open government data as an economic resource should be pursued with vigor (#2 and #3 in our plan).
For more on the Knight report, see these resources:
- The report and interactive explorer – Data spreadsheet
- Civic tech investment analysis, expanded with your feedback – Feb. 26, 2014
- What’s next for mapping civic tech – Feb. 28, 2014
- Initial release – Pulling back the curtain on civic tech – Dec. 4, 2103
- Major discussion of the report among Code for America brigades (launched by E-Democracy/Open Twin Cities)
- Note that Knight has not released data by location, but are interested in the idea. We did our own analysis of the data and could find no other Minnesota connections. We note that the report covers start-ups and grants only. Therefore “this doesn’t include existing businesses self-funding new product lines, etc. – GovDelivery, Avenet’s GovOffice, CaringBridge (amazing
donor support for a .org).”