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Austin has long since been perceived as a town of creative innovators. Given the City’s recent regulatory attempts with the sharing and gig economy (Uber, AirBnB, Scooters), what is your position on how the City should handle emerging technologies and emerging markets? What is your view, generally, on the conflict between consumer demands and government interests? Similarly, when non-profits secure grant funding for innovative social solutions that requires a local match, what is your view on city funding being available for the match?

Rich DePalma

City Council, District 8

Austin thrives because of our talent and creative solutions. We also have the talent that identifies problems and pragmatic solutions. We need to welcome innovation that strengthens our economy while not turning our back on ensuring the public safety of residents. Hopefully gone are the days that emerging technology companies and the city stop working together to find reasonable solutions. This week I received a report on the efforts between the city and our e-scooter companies. I am pleased on how well everyone is working together in developing a system that works for everyone. It is working well because both parties have open communication, are willing to work with each other to help develop the emerging market, and there is a mutual understanding by everyone that this an emerging market so the company, the city and the customers are all learning. In regards to non-profit securing grant funding for innovative social solutions that require a local match, I am absolutely supportive of the intent but the actual funding must demonstrate a community benefit. I have spent almost 20 years consulting with private businesses and the public sector – primarily in procurement, which is one of the biggest hurdles that our community and businesses face when they wish to present innovative solutions. As Vice-Chair of the Parks Board, I have pushed for a Request for Information for Innovative Solutions, Services or Materials. This would be modeled off the Department of Defense Blanket Purchasing Agreement or U.S. Communities’ Innovation RFP. I would like this RFI to be released by each department and be periodic so innovation does not pass Austin by. The goal is a quick two-page RFI response under one of the categories. The responses are reviewed by the executive team of the department, conversations are had and an eventual RFP is released if a concept is interesting. The RFPs should minimally include a piggy back clause/interlocal agreement clause so that other public entities could leverage the final contract.