A few weeks ago, we told you about the $145,000 grant that Austin City Council accepted to participate in US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities Program — a unique opportunity that can lead to Austin becoming a leader in next-generation applications that utilize the gigabit internet and benefit the community at large.

We’re now putting out a call for your help.

The City of Austin needs Challenge Sponsors to help direct entrepreneurs toward creating useful applications in the following target areas: health, clean energy, education, transportation, and public safety.

Do you, your network, or your company have expertise in one of those areas and want to give back to the benefit of Austin’s future? Here’s more information from Austin’s Assistant City Manager Ray Arellano:

Who is an ideal Challenge Sponsor?

An ideal Challenge Sponsor is an entity and/or subject matter expert(s) with experience and expertise in the field related to the challenge. For example, Austin ISD, universities, and nonprofits focused on work force development-related programs would all be ideal Challenge Sponsors for challenges related to education.

What is the role of a Challenge Sponsor?

Challenge Sponsors help provide context and insights into a challenge area. They clarify, frame, and pitch challenges prior to exploring solutions. Through their efforts, they help problem solvers better understand the challenge (perhaps by even connecting them directly to the user community), leading to better proposed solutions overall. They may also serve as a partner in prototyping solutions by offering invaluable rapid feedback to problem solvers based on real world experience and deep expertise.

What is the expected time commitment?

Since we are still early on, we can’t answer this in utmost certainty. We do foresee at least one half-day workshop to develop our strategies for achieving successful challenge frames and pitches, as well as participation in the Reverse Pitch event(s). While it isn’t fully confirmed, it is likely that we will partner with ATX Hack for Change to present our challenge pitches at that event. There will also be opportunities as mentioned above to work with the selected project teams and likely some effort needed in collaborating with colleagues in the field, end users and community members, and even the larger international US Ignite network.

What are the benefits of being a Challenge Sponsor?

Challenge Sponsors will of course be publicly recognized whenever possible, but will also have the unique benefit of working directly with entrepreneurs interested in helping solve the challenges that matter most. You will get an opportunity to help shape solutions by giving feedback to entrepreneurs early and often, focusing their solution’s iterations on your and your users’ needs.

If you are interested in being a Challenge Sponsor and/or know someone who would be superb, please send a note to Lance McNeill with the City of Austin.