Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Civic tech investment analysis, expanded with your feedback

Feb. 26, 2014, 12:09 p.m., Posted by Jonathan Sotsky

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Photo credit: Flickr user Pekka Nikrus

You spoke, we responded.

In December 2013, Knight Foundation released an analysis of activity and investment in civic tech which captured 209 companies and more than $430 million in investment between January 2011 and May 2013. To build on that initial analysis, we published all the data and asked people to suggest additional data they believed was missing from the report. Since then, we’ve received dozens of emails from peers in the budding civic tech community proposing additions.

Today, we’re releasing an updated version of the civic tech investment analysis, which includes an additional 32 companies and $265 million of investment. That brings the total to 241 organizations having received more than $695 million in investment from 2011 to 2013. The data crowdsourced by you and your peers in the civic tech field was crucial for incorporating organizations and investment data missing from the original report. We also updated the report to include investments made through the end of 2013, providing an additional seven months of investment data not captured in the original report.

More than anything, we’re excited about all the conversations the report triggered concerning the ongoing development of the civic tech field. Take for example this Twitter civic tech group with Twitter handles of organizations identified in the report created by Scott Phillips of Civic Ninjas. Many more have reached out, especially funders, about convening funders around co-investment opportunities in this space.

By documenting a clearer picture of activity and investment, the report begins to set the stage for a discussion about the impact of civic tech.  Several people have asked us what’s known about the effectiveness of new civic tech tools identified in the report. In the months ahead, Knight will share insights from its own experiences supporting civic tech tools along with assessment resources for practitioners in the field. But we’re also interested in fostering a broader conversation geared around more consistently documenting the impact of civic tech tools and trends on open government, civic engagement and in promoting healthy, vibrant cities.

We also continue to welcome your feedback and suggestions so we can keep updating the analysis over the course of the year. Civic tech is a dynamic sector, and we want to continue to capture what’s happening. It will help the community better understand the opportunities that exist and to develop strategies that increase the effectiveness of new investments.

Jonathan Sotsky, director of strategy and assessment at Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is sponsoring a free webinar from 2 to 3 p.m. EST today with Jonathan Sotsky; Sean Gourley, co-founder and chief technical officer for Quid; and Jeffrey Bladt, chief data officer for DoSomething.org. Titled “Data-Driven Strategy in the Social Sector,” the webinar will explore innovative approaches to research and data visualization using the civic tech report as an example. Click here to register.