City issues RFI; Calls for proposals for public and private pilots of forward-looking products and ideas 

SOMERVILLE – It can be difficult for innovators to find opportunities to test new ideas or products, and likewise, existing tools can’t always address all the challenges cities face like climate change, affordable housing, or mobility changes. So the City of Somerville is proposing to team up with innovators to their mutual benefit. This week the City’s new Somerville Urban Lab Initiative issued a call to innovators for pilot proposals. It offers up the 4.1-square-mile city as a citywide incubator—or urban lab—for testing smart products and ideas that can further the goals of the community and spur economic development.

Via a Request for Information (RFI) issued Sept. 20, the City invited a range of companies and academic projects and labs to propose projects and technologies to test on City property, in City offices, or through collaborations that the City will facilitate with local businesses, nonprofits, and academic institutions. In addition to piloting new projects and products, ultimately the City aims to work with participating entrepreneurs to create a model for municipal-innovator collaboration. No direct funding will be provided by the City, however, a range of technical and organizational support will be provided to projects selected.

The Somerville Urban Lab Initiative is the outgrowth of the 2014/15 Somerville GreenTech Initiative, which took a similar approach but limited the call for pilot projects to the area of environmental sustainability. The Urban Lab broadens the pilot areas to include housing, social equity, economic development, sustainability, arts, education, government innovation, smart city infrastructure, public health, and more. For broader community benefit, the City is also committed to facilitating pilots with Somerville businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions working in an array of fields including tech, biotech, healthcare, nonprofit services, mobility, net neutrality, and more.

“Some cities promote their innovation districts, and we like to say we are the Innovation City, but these are not just slogans. They are a commitment to progress. Collaborating with emerging technologies and innovators can help cities find paths to greater sustainability, equity, job creation, and more,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “The Somerville Urban Lab initiative is just one more way that our community can help to create an environment where the best and most-needed new ideas, tech, and products can not only be dreamed up but brought to life and put to use.”

More information, Info Session, and how to apply:

The RFI may be viewed, and submissions may be made online, at The deadline to apply is Monday, November 12 at 11:59 p.m. An information session will be held from 1 to 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 30, at City Hall, 93 Highland Ave., 2nd floor. A summary of findings and an announcement of next steps will be issued January 2019.

For questions regarding this solicitation, contact Sunayana Thomas, Senior Planner, at (617) 625-6600 x2561 or before October 15, 2018 at 11:59 PM EST.  Written responses will be posted on

For questions concerning the City of Somerville, please visit our website: The City of Somerville Data Farm contains data and information on our community that may be helpful to you in thinking about your company’s or project’s role in collaboration with the City.

Past GreenTech Initiative projects have included: Understory, a solar, micro-climate weather sensor installed on the roof of the high school, and WrightGrid, a public, solar-powered, phone charging station installed in various areas of the City.

Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or

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