Tempe Innovation Fund

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The City of Tempe established a one-time, non-recurring Innovation Fund of $500,000 within the 2017-18 fiscal year budget.  The Tempe City Council conveyed its intent that the fund would encourage and promote new and creative ideas that significantly improve our community and keep Tempe as the regional leader in innovation. 


How will you decide which projects get funded?

Projects will be scored based on the city’s funding criteria. Extra weight will be given to ideas that can be clearly defined, have one-time start-up costs and that show clear metrics for evaluating success. The following criteria will be used:

  1. Direct community impact: Is your innovative idea or project an alternative approach to an existing problem that would have a direct community impact? Would funds would be used to address a real and timely issue?
  2. Unique and measurable impact on the triple bottom line (financial, social and environmental): Does your innovative idea enhance a city service or provide an efficiency for a city service or department? Are there potential long-term benefits or does your idea generate revenue and/or cost savings?
  3. Promotes partnerships with benefits: Does your innovative idea or project leverage matching funds or partnerships between city departments?Or with other businesses and/or other community partners such as ASU or another non-governmental organization?
  4. Pilot projects: Is the innovative idea you are proposing a one-time project? Is the innovation a high-risk, high reward project or idea?
  5. Aligns with council priorities: Does the innovative idea or project advance the achievement of a city council priority and a city strategic management performance measure or measures?

What kind of projects and ideas are less likely to receive funding?

  • Projects or ideas that replicate or supplement current salaries or existing staff budgets (however, innovation dollars may be used to hire additional expertise such as consultants or contract employees.)
  • Single group benefits, such as scholarships.
  • Initiatives the city has previously implemented, unless unique innovative approaches are incorporated.
  • Projects which require ongoing, post pilot costs.

Do I need to know all the details and budget information about how my innovative project or idea would be implemented before I submit it?

While you do not have to have all of the details and budget information about your innovative project or idea before it is submitted, if it is chosen to move forward, the Tempe City Council will be considering your idea against other submissions that have been received. Therefore, you will want to include as much detail as possible, although, the council will still evaluate your idea even if you don’t know exactly how much it would cost to implement or how much money it would save the city. The other criteria established above should also be explored as part of your application. Please provide as much information as you can.

Who can submit ideas?

All Tempe groups can submit proposals: employees, city council members, residents, community organizations and businesses.  Members of the public are able to submit proposals that may or may not be administered by the city.

Can I apply for this money for my nonprofit or business?

Yes, as long as the innovative idea or project that you are proposing meets the criteria detailed above, it will be considered. 

Is there a deadline for submitting an application?

No, there’s no due date. The city council wants to hear good ideas year-round. Applications will be evaluated continually and funding decisions will be made throughout the year until the fund is depleted, so get your idea in as soon as possible.

Who decides which projects get funded?

Proposals can be submitted via e-mail or in person. They are initially evaluated by the Office of Strategic Management and then by the city manager. This initial review will be to determine applicability of a council priority or strategic management performance measures and for compliance with applicable law.  The proposals will then be forwarded to the city council, which will decide on projects to fund. The decisions of the City Council are final.

How many projects will you fund?

There’s no specific number of projects that will be funded. The number depends on the volume of applications received and the amount of money allocated by the city council for each innovative idea or project that is chosen to move forward.   

When will the city announce the first set of funded projects?

We anticipate having funded projects ready to announce by spring, 2018.

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

The Tempe City Council has defined five priorities for our community. These priorities help to challenge city staff and residents to build a better Tempe for tomorrow. These priorities are:

  1. Ensuring a safe and secure community.
  2. Developing and maintaining strong community connections.
  3. Enhancing quality of life.
  4. Implementing sustainable growth and development strategies.
  5. Maintaining long-term financial stability.

Along with these city council priorities, the council has approved a number of performance measures to ensure that our city’s actions reflect these priorities. To see if your innovative idea or project aligns with a performance measure, you can see the approved measures here: http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/strategic-management-and-diversity/strategic-management.  

How will the allocated funding be monitored?

The Office of Strategic Management works with submitters whose proposals are accepted, to develop clear metrics for evaluating and monitoring success. Appropriate city staff also provide guidance to help ensure funded submittals are achieving the desired goals.

How much money is in the Innovation Fund?

The current size of the Innovation Fund is $500,000; however, there is no requirement that the council allocate the entire amount before the beginning of the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018. The council can choose to allocate the entire amount or a partial amount of the total Innovation Fund during the first year of the program. Only quality projects that score highly will be funded.

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

For additional questions, please contact Elizabeth Higgins, Chief of Staff to the Mayor and Council, at 480-350-8965.

How do I submit my application?

Via e-mail to innovation@tempe.gov (use DropBox or a similar program for large submittals) and/or in-person at Tempe City Hall, 31 E. Fifth St. Direct submittals to the attention of Rosa Inchausti, Director of the Office of Strategic Management and Diversity.


 All applications, whether submitted via e-mail or in-person, must address:

  • What current challenge does your innovative idea or project address? What is your innovative solution? 
  • How does your innovative idea or project address the City Council priorities and/or the Strategic Management performance updates? 
  • What specific steps need to be taken in order to achieve your desired outcome?  Proposals should communicate a comprehensive, well-thought-out plan for any requested Innovation dollars, and including an initial budget as to how the dollars would be spent. 
  • How the idea would affect the city department(s) tasked with implementing the idea?
  • What other partners, if applicable, are a part of the proposed idea or project? 
  • Do you have clear metrics for evaluating success?  
  • What, if applicable, is the return on investment to the City of Tempe?  Is there an estimated cost savings?