Civic Tech & GovTech: An Overlooked Lucrative Opportunity for Technology Startups

Elena Mesropyan at LTP: “Civic technology, or Civic Tech, is defined as a technology that enables greater participation in government or otherwise assists government in delivering citizen services and strengthening ties with the public. In other words, Civic Tech is where the public lends its talents, usually voluntarily, to help government do a better job. Moreover, Omidyar Network(which invested over $90 million across 35 civic tech organizations over the past decade) emphasizes that like a movement, civic tech is mission-driven, focused on making a change that benefits the public, and in most cases enables better public input into decision making.

As an emerging sector, Civic Tech is defined as incorporating any technology that is used to empower citizens or help make government more accessible, efficient, and effective. Civic tech isn’t just talk, Omidyar notes, it is a community of people coming together to create tangible projects and take action. The civic tech and open data movements have grown with the ubiquity of personal technology.

Civic tech can be defined as a convergence of various fields. An example of such convergence has been given by Knight Foundation, a national foundation with a goal to foster informed and engaged communities to power a healthy democracy:

Civic Tech & GovTech: An Overlooked Lucrative Opportunity for Technology Startups

Source: The Emergence of Civic Tech: Investments in a Growing Field

In the report called Engines of Change: What Civic Tech Can Learn From Social Movements, Civic Tech is divided into three categories:

  • Citizen to Citizen (C2C): Technology that improves citizen mobilization or improves connections between citizens
  • Citizen to Government (C2G): Technology that improves the frequency or quality of interaction between citizens and government
  • Government Technology (Govtech): Innovative technology solutions that make government more efficient and effective at service delivery

In 2015, Forbes reported that Civic Tech makes up almost a quarter of local and state government spendings on technology….

Civic tech initiatives address a diverse range of industries – from energy and payments to agriculture and telecommunications. Mattermark outlines the following top ten industries associated with government and civic tech:

…There are certainly much more examples of GovTech/civic tech companies, and just tech startups offering solutions across the board that can significantly improve the way governments are run, and services are delivered to citizens and businesses. More importantly, GovTech should no longer be considered a charity and solely non-profit type of venture. Recently reviewed global P2G payments flows only, for example, are estimated to be at $7.7 trillion and represent a significant feature of the global payments landscape. For the low- and lower-middle-income countries alone, the number hits $375 billion (~50% of annual government expenditure)….(More)”