11/12/2011 03:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Apps for Entrepreneurs Looks to Accelerate Startups With Open Data

If you're a developer or entrepreneur and want to help others in that space, you may find a new challenge of interest: Apps for Entrepreneurs.

If you're unfamiliar with the idea of challenges, read up on collaborative innovation in open government. The big question that such contests are helping to answer is whether the vision of participatory democracy outlined by Thomas Jefferson, where citizens collaborate with government to solve the nation's most difficult problems, can be updated to the 21st century. Over the last year, agencies have been trying to crowdsource their way out of problems. Now, the Small Business Administration is trying the mechanism.

"The goal of the Apps for Entrepreneurs is to give small businesses and entrepreneurs those better tools through this challenge format," Ahson Wardak, senior advisor within the Investment Division at the Small Business Administration, told me via email.

"For most entrepreneurs and small businesses, the federal government has useful programs and services, but it can be hard to identify, engage and navigate federal websites," he wrote. "Often, small businesses do not know that the Federal government already offers a program that they would find useful. Entrepreneurs and small businesses need better tools to navigate the federal government's vast resources -- including programs, services, and procurement opportunities."

The short video embedded below explains more.:

Here's the raw material for developers to use in the challenge:
  • Datasets at include a loan and grants search API and a city/county-level government website catalog.
  • Datasets at and include SBIR award data, SBIR solicitation data, SBA program catalogue, SBA office locations, and "green" government opportunities

The challenge opened on November 5 and closes on November 20, so you've got another week to get cracking. Full disclosure: I'm one of the judges, so I'm hoping to see some great entries.