The State Worker

California innovation contest offering $25,000 awards

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who authored the 2014 legislation behind the “$25K Find a New Way” innovation contest.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who authored the 2014 legislation behind the “$25K Find a New Way” innovation contest. TNS

Got an idea that would make California’s freeways better? Perhaps you’re an app developer who has thought about a tool to help government operate in a more environmentally-sustainable way. Or maybe you have an inspiration that would discourage teen drinking.

If so, the state wants to hear from you – and maybe even hand you a check.

The heads of Caltrans and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control this week announced two contests offering $25,000 each for the top innovative ideas that improve state transportation or combat underage drinking. The deadline for submissions to both departments is Oct. 13 at 5 p.m.

And the Department of General Services, which acts as the state’s business manager, will hold an open data code-a-thon on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25, hoping that apps and other computer tools will emerge that further the government’s operational efforts to combat climate change. It also will award up to✔ $25,000. (The General Services money will be split among more than one winner.)

The “$25K Find a New Way” contests, the result of 2014 legislation by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, are open to all California residents except state employees and their immediate families. Participants in the code-a-thon must be at least 18 years old.

During a Tuesday news conference at the Capitol to announce the contests, Gatto emphasized that “this is not a suggestion box.” An idea needs to be fully-formed “intellectual property” in order to qualify for the cash award and the notoriety that Gatto said will go with contributing to the public good.

For more details, visit www.findanewway.ca.gov or the departments’ homepages.

Editor’s note: This post has been changed to reflect that that the General Services prize money will be split.

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