InnovationLogo

The Innovation Fund

County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball has announced a $225,000 Innovation Fund! The Innovation Fund will be used to improve our county as we look forward to the future.  We will be helping to fund projects with our partners across Howard County.  Projects should foster innovation for the public good.  You are encouraged to submit your project ideas through our grant application process.

Ideas should:
  • Be Innovative and Original  - Does the idea demonstrate how it keeps Howard County ahead of the curve and promotes the creativity that is the hallmark of our County?
  • Support Greater Efficiencies - Does the idea improve a process, save time, increase collaboration among partners, provide the potential for long-term benefits, or generate revenue and/or cost savings?
  • Emphasize Priority Outcomes and Quality of Life  - Does the idea help create a prosperous community, a livable and sustainable community, a safe community, and/or a well-run government?
  • Be Feasible and Measurable - Can the idea begin within 12 months of being funded? Does the idea need funding year after year or only one time? A one-time award from the Innovation Fund should be sufficient to implement your great idea. Prior to award, each project should have clear metrics for evaluating the impact of the idea.

We will support projects designed to help in the following priority areas. For a better idea of these priority areas, visit Howard County Data Analytics and Statistics Hub (HoCo DASH): dash.howardcountymd.gov.

Note that all projects may not directly align with the specific outcomes that are measured through HoCo DASH. However, the project will be considered if there is a strong justification that the project will contribute to any of these areas.

Priority Areas

  • Ready and Successful Students
  • Safe and Engaged Communities
  • Clean and Sustainable Environment
  • Thriving and Healthy Residents
  • Reliable and Accessible Infrastructure
  • Strong and Prosperous Businesses

The deadline for submitting an application to the Innovation Fund is Friday, December 6, 2019 (11:59 p.m.). Awardees will be announced in January 2020.

Understanding the Application Process

Information Gathering and Learning More

There will be two information sessions to ask questions regarding the application process. There will be one in-person meeting and another remote conference call to enable others to listen-in or ask questions. One session will be recorded and be available for those who cannot make either date. The live sessions will be on:

Friday, October 18th

  • Government Information Session 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. (WebEx Conference Call)
  • Community Information Session 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. (WebEx Conference Call)

Thursday, October 24th

At the Howard County Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 (Room to be determined)

  • Government Information Session 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (In Person)
  • Community Information Session 11:00 a.m. to Noon (In Person)

Please visit the website for updates.

Application

This application requires a more detailed description of your innovation and plan, team composition, including supporting research/evidence with quantitative estimates. We will also ask for detailed budgetary projections and financial plans.

Funding Agreement

Should your project be funded, you will be asked to sign a funding agreement.

What Type and Amount of Funding Should I Apply For?

Though this is an exciting first step for Howard County Government to launch this funding, it is still in a pilot year. There are two types of grants that you can apply for:

Community Innovation Grant

Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000. Grants must be submitted through an established nonprofit. However, we encourage any sector to partner with a nonprofit on an idea. Greater collaboration and partnership will be scored higher.

Government Innovation Grant

Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000. These should be projects that are implemented within government and are designed to have an immediate return on investment once completed. Only Howard County government employees may apply for this grant.

What we will not Fund

The Innovation Fund is designed to be a one-time infusion to help accelerate or implement a project. We will NOT fund projects that

  • Are not new or innovative to Howard County.
  • Are designed to supplement operations only.
  • Rely on ongoing funding that has not been identified.
  • Pay for personnel costs without a plan to absorb those costs later.
  • Do not align with the County’s priorities.
  • Will not be executed in 2020.

Eligibility Criteria

To receive Innovation Funds, all applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be an employee of Howard County government or be a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) IRS tax exempt status,
  • Be seeking funding for services provided to the residents of Howard County, Maryland (if the agency serves a larger geographic area, funding may only be requested for those services that are offered within Howard County, Maryland),
  • Be in compliance with all Federal, State and local housing and human rights laws

(Application will be available on Tuesday, October 15th)

Frequently Asked Questions

How will you decide which projects get funded?

We’ll score projects based on our funding criteria. Priority will be given to ideas that can be developed with clearly defined one-time start-up costs and to projects that clearly demonstrate the potential for successful results. The following criteria will be used.

What is the deadline for submitting an application?

The deadline for submitting an application to the Innovation Fund is Friday, December 6, 2019 (11:59 p.m.). Awardees will be announced in January 2020.

How many projects will you fund?

There’s no specific number of projects that will be funded.  The number will depend on the number of applications received and the amount of money needed.  We anticipate funding approximately 10 projects, but this may increase or decrease.

When will you announce the first set of funded projects?

We hope to have projects ready to announce and begin work by early 2020.

What are the County’s priority outcomes that the Innovation Fund will support?

We will support projects designed to help in these priority areas. For a better idea of these priority areas, visit Howard County Data Analytics and Statistics Hub (HoCo DASH): https://dash.howardcountymd.gov/

Note that all projects may not directly align with the specific outcomes that are measured through HoCo DASH. However, the project will be considered if there is a strong justification that the project will contribute to any of these areas.

  • Ready and Successful Students
  • Safe and Engaged Communities
  • Clean and Sustainable Environment
  • Thriving and Healthy Residents
  • Reliable and Accessible Infrastructure
  • Strong and Prosperous Businesses

How much money does the fund have to give away?

The current size of the Innovation Fund is $225,000. However there is no requirement that we spend that entire amount during the first year of the program.  Only quality projects that score highly on our criteria will be funded.

Where did the Innovation Fund come from?

County Executive Ball has made this Fund a priority and allocated funding in the FY20 budget.

Who can I contact if I have a question that’s not answered here?

For additional questions, please contact [email protected] or by calling the office of the Chief Innovation Officer at 410-313-2020.