SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 16, 2020) – Registration for the Second Annual R&D League Symposium – an opportunity for residents, academics, engineers, designers, and practitioners to work together to solve San Antonio's toughest challenges is opening today.
Seven months ago, on Feb. 12, the City Council approved the launch of the City's first research and development program, the R&D League. In collaboration with SwRI, USAA, and UTSA, the City of San Antonio's R&D League creates opportunities for cross-sector, multi-disciplinary teams to solve community challenges through data, experimentation, and evidence-based policymaking. Since its February launch, the League's work has included four sectors, 21 disciplines and 162 collaborators in the launch of three experiments and nine grant submissions.
To enhance this work and ground it in equity, the R&D League invites community members to share their insights and co-create solutions with highly skilled research teams at the Second Annual Symposium. Participants will hear from visionary leaders from diverse backgrounds and be asked to bring their expertise and lived experiences to the solution design process in six key areas – mobility, digital inclusion, health, public safety, housing, and environment. The Symposium will take place over two mornings from 8:45am to noon on Monday, Oct. 20 and Tuesday, Oct. 21. The full agenda can be found here; some highlights include:
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- Visioning – leaders from CoSA, SwRI, USAA, and UTSA will paint a vision for the future of R&D and cross-sector partnerships in policy-making Inspirational talks – local experts from different sectors are teaming up to share insights on their ground-breaking work in artificial intelligence, smart transit, demography, applied science, poverty, & digital inclusion Equity & Human-Centered Design – multi-disciplinary teams will be trained on the stats, tools, and insights needed to drive more equitable, human-centered solutions Diverse Thinking – facilitated workshopping and feedback sessions will reveal lived experiences, apply an equity lens, and engage different perspectives in challenge prioritization and solution design processes
The Symposium aims to unearth innovative ideas, elevate resident voices, build diverse teams, and create synergies. Tangibly speaking, the Symposium will result in inventories of key people, technology, data sets, challenge nuances, lived experiences, strategic plans, and assets for each challenge area that allow the R&D League to establish experimental frameworks and source funding.
The pandemic and racial injustice crises have illustrated that the path to recovery and resiliency for our community requires all sectors working together to explore bold, evidence-based solutions that are driven by lived-experiences from residents. "The pandemic has shown us that not all superheroes wear capes and by bringing together highly-skilled academics, designers, and public servants, we maximize the superpowers needed to get us through the huge societal challenges our community faces," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
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When the City's new research and development program launched, the R&D League model itself was viewed as an experiment – and a lesson learned is that there is a key role for the League to play in the funding process. Due to COVID-19, many organizations are facing severe budget shortfalls that making prioritizing experimentation impossible. As a result of the complexity of societal challenges, many granting agencies now require cross-sector, multi-disciplinary collaboration. Building on current trends and momentum, the Symposium will align the resident voice, organizational assets, and team synergies to give San Antonio the competitive edge for future funding opportunities.
"As City Manager one of my top goals is to ground the City's work in data-informed decision making and community insights," said City Manager Walsh. "This is a big shift for the public sector, especially a City organization of 13,000 employees, and we do not have time to wait. I am grateful to our R&D League partners who are helping accelerate this transformation."
"SwRI is excited to be working in our hometown to help solve problems that directly impact our neighbors," said SwRI Executive Vice President and COO Walt Downing. "Many of the solutions we're working on to address problems around the nation can be developed more effectively and on a shorter timeline with access to real-world data from the city, with the city gaining early benefits from those pilot solutions."
To learn more about the R&D League and register for the Symposium, please check out the following site: https://www.sanantonio.gov/Innovation/R-D-League
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