Microsoft sponsoring new MassChallenge prize for civic technology

 As a founding sponsor of MassChallenge, known as the world’s largest startup accelerator, Microsoft has a history of commitment to the four-year-old nonprofit and the businesses it has helped launch.

This month, they’ll kick that commitment up a notch by joining forces with the City of Boston to sponsor a new Sidecar prize focused on an exciting emerging market – civic technology.

Civic technology means focusing on how tech innovation can be used to engage in various civic-focused activities. Cities across the U.S., and even around the world, are using it to solve urban problems, promote economic development, and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. Civic technology encompasses a variety of converging fields, including social networking, community organizing, public data access and transparency, peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services, and crowd funding for commercial or community projects.

The MassChallenge program is an ideal incubator for new tools and forums that will foster healthier civic discourse, stronger communities and better individual opportunities. Each year, the nonprofit elects more than 100 startup companies to participate in its four-month accelerator program, which provides entrepreneurs access to expert mentors, marketing and media resources, funding opportunities and even free office space in the Boston area. Following the accelerator period, MassChallenge awards $1 million in grants to the program’s top companies. The organization also supports startups from a wide range of industries, and allows new companies from any industry, anywhere in the world, to apply.

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