Here's who won the American Experiments civic-tech showcase - Technical.ly Philly

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Jul. 27, 2016 7:33 am

Here’s who won the American Experiments civic-tech showcase

Crowdpac and Democracy Works shared the top prize. Here's what they and a slew of other civic hackers are up to.

Crowdpac and Democracy Works came out on top.

(Photo by Roberto Torres)

Well, didn’t we say the winners of the American Experiments civic tech pitch competition would get a writeup?

In honor of the first day of the Democratic National Convention taking place in Philly, the Committee of Seventy put together a display of civic tech on Monday, marking the first-ever public event held at the Microsoft Reactor at the Science Center (no, it’s not Innovation Center anymore, more on that change soon).

From 10 a.m. to noon, the Quorum space hosted a dizzying display of 18 civic tech companies, which tackled issues like voter registration, crowdfunding and civic engagement:

  • America 2026: A group of conveners for millennial candidates.
  • BallotReady: A tool to give voters simple, non-partisan info on candidates and referendum options.
  • Brigade: An online network for voters to express civic identity and link up with like-minded citizens.
  • Change Politics: A platform for getting political recommendations from people you trust.
  • CityGrows: A transparency platform for local governments.
  • Civic Eagle: A mobile platform to link social life with civic life.
  • Crowdpac: A tool to match citizens with like-minded politicians according to a conservative/liberal model.
  • Democracy Works: Two of the company’s products aim to streamline voter experience through data.
  • Electorate: A social voting platform to find and share election advice from friends.
  • e.thePeople: An interactive voter guide software provider.
  • FairVote: Researchers and proponents of democracy changes.
  • Open Primaries: Advocates of open, non-partisan primary elections.
  • Represent.us: An initiative for the development of anti-corruption laws at a local level.
  • Sketch City: A nonprofit community of technology advocates and civic hackers.
  • Voter: A matching tool between politicians and voters, a la Tinder.

And representing Philly:

  • Code for Philly: A nonprofit, non-partisan group of civic hackers using the web for the modernization of Philadelphia.
  • Cicero by Azavea: A database of elected officials and legislative districts.
  • Leverage: A data visualization platform for turning campaign finance data into digestible infographics and visuals.

And so after a quick lunch, the top six initiatives broke out their best slides for a memorable pitch competition. Crowdpac, Open Primaries, Cicero by Azavea, BallotReady, Democracy Works and Code for Philly took their turns explaining their ideas before six judges from all walks of tech, capital investment, politics and entrepreneurship.

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Following a grilling of the top two picks, the jury made their call: the award was split between Crowdpac and Democracy Works for their contributions to civic engagement through technology.

“It feels really nice to get a positive reaction from Philadelphia, where there’s a very deep history of engagement,” said Crowdpac VP Jesse Thomas. “Philly should keep that momentum up. For us, this city is a market leader.”

Steve Hilton, CEO of Crowdpac, quickly took the win as the organization’s own: “They say it’s a tie but I’m saying we won! kudos to the brilliant @Crowdpac team!!” he boasted on Twitter.

“It was a real joy to present at the American Experiments Showcase and an honor to share first prize in the Microsoft Challenge with Crowdpac,” Kathryn Peters, Democracy Works cofounder and COO, said in an emailed statement. “Democracy Works believes voting should fit the way we live and events like this one demonstrate just how much innovation is going on around us to make that a reality.”

The top prize didn’t involve actual money. This was more in the symbolic win category.

“We’d love to have a huge check or credit card for you both, but what you get here is eternal glory and praise and recognition,” said Committee of Seventy’s David Thornburgh, jokingly.

Oh, and much in the spirit of democracy, there was also a People’s Choice Award, decided via text message voting on site, which went to BallotReady.

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