Long Beach Innovation Team Launches First RFIs with CityMart

Last night the Long Beach I-Team - a team funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies - launched its first round of initiatives, #BreakThruLB in a partnership with CityMart. BreakThruLB is focused on lowering the barrier to entry for procurement of creative solutions to city challenges, an incremental but important step to allow for the city to solicit innovative ideas and proposals to stated problems.

Traditional procurement in the city involves lengthy documents telling vendors exactly the solution the city wants. To borrow the mayor’s analogy, when a lightbulb goes out, city procurement typically asks existing vendors to sell them more lightbulbs. That’s an obvious and natural response, but it leaves little room for improvement until something truly breaks. This experiment is about teaching the city instead how to ask “how can we make this corner brighter?”. To be clear, this isn’t about lightbulbs - it’s about acknowledging that the city itself isn’t often the best, let alone only, source of good ideas for how to solve community problems, but it does have massive purchasing power which it ought to be encouraged to use in smarter ways.

The first two RFIs - requests for information - are live now:

Both are simple, easy to read requests, asking businesses - and individuals - with a fairly low investment in time up front. If you’re passionate about improving the environment for tech education, business, and community, or you have great ideas for how to make Long Beach a better place to start and build a business, the city wants to hear from you.

The starting point is to go to LongBeach.gov. Under the Business menu, first go to “Register as a Vendor” if you haven’t before - this is easy even for individuals (just need to fill out a handful of information). Once you’ve registered, go to “Bids/RFPs” to find the RFI’s mentioned above, and information on how to respond.

Please share - this experiment works best when as many people know about it.

– Roger Howard

** PS, city folks: I deeplinked to the RFI documents above. I believe strongly these should be easily accessible and read far and wide, even by those who won’t register as a vendor or submit a proposal.