The Startup in Residence program begins with outreach to the people that know the challenges and opportunities best, City Department and Agency staff. The two-pronged approach includes both e-mail outreach to department heads, program staff and analysts, as well as a web-based intake form.  Departments and Agencies submit their ideas over a period of 1 month and work closely with the STIR team to clearly state their challenge during a challenge scoping session hosted by the STIR team.

Once the project partnership is confirmed,  participating Departments and Startups use STIR resources such as scoping documents, templates, and in-person workshops to ensure that the project can be completed within 16 weeks.  At a foundational level, the scoping process includes the following design principles:

Get on the same page. City staff and startups tend to operate in very different ways. Acknowledging and learning from these differences is a valuable part of the STIR program. Take time to discuss your work processes and think about ways to make the collaboration easier on both sides. You will be pushed to work outside of your comfort zone and think about problem-solving in new ways.


Scope down. STIR projects are bold, but it’s important to be disciplined and map out what can be done in 16 weeks with the resources that are available. At the same time, keep brainstorming and thinking creatively within a focused and narrowed scope.


Define the challenge, not the solution. Don’t be prescriptive with your proposed solution. Part of the STIR opportunity is co-developing solutions, and being attached to ideas early on prevents creative problem solving.