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Incubator | Unbundle Policing: Reimagine Public Safety Challenge

How can we decrease unnecessary and adverse law enforcement encounters in order to promote community health and well-being in the US?

Submissions are Closed


Table of Contents

What does Unbundle Policing mean?

What's the timeline?

What is the difference between the Challenge, the Incubator, and the Accelerator?

Why should I apply to the Incubator?

What/who are you looking for?

What are you offering?

How do I participate?

What are the Incubator/Accelerator eligibility requirements?

Can I apply for the Accelerator if I don't participate in the Incubator?

What’s expected of me?

How do I add team members to my application?

Who’s involved?


What does Unbundle Policing mean?

Police work is a bundle of services, and much of it is beyond the scope of preventing and solving violent crime. Law enforcement has often become a backstop for much of society’s ills, sometimes being stretched thin while dealing with domestic disputes or providing safety for schools. Unbundling policing means separating out the many roles the police are asked to play–patrolling for traffic violations and showing up at accidents, responding to calls for mental health interventions, addressing homelessness–and distributing these to  alternative responders, like unarmed traffic managers and social workers. The goal of this approach is to connect individuals to the best resources to address their needs at first touchpoint.

What's the timeline?

What is the difference between the Challenge, the Incubator, and the Accelerator?

Good question! The Unbundle Policing Challenge consists of two parts: the Incubator and the Accelerator. 

Incubator: A three-month program designed to support participants as they develop and refine solutions, build and solidify teams, and garner expert feedback. Ultimately, the Incubator program will prepare teams to submit their solutions to the six-month Accelerator in fall 2021. The program is no cost to you – a short application to join the Incubator is required. 

Accelerator: An invite-only, six-month wraparound program that will provide $50,000 per team to deploy or expand solutions across the US. Select teams may receive additional funding and investment post-Accelerator from the over $1 million available. Applications for the Accelerator will be open October 1 - November 19, 2021.

What/who are you looking for?

We are looking for people who are committed to using their skills and passion to solve the challenge of adverse outcomes from unnecessary police encounters, including:

  • Individuals with or without current teams
  • Anyone in an early stage of a solution - whether you have interest, an idea, or an existing product/service in the marketplace

Teams or individuals are encouraged to apply to the three-month Incubator, especially if they fill any of the following roles: 

  • Entrepreneur [risk-taker, business-owner, startup founder, inventor]
  • Designer [planner, creator]
  • Engineer [builder, problem-solver]
  • Researcher [questioner, analyzer, investigator, teacher, writer]
  • Justice Expert/Professional [lawyer, police officer, first responder, 911 operator]
  • Technologist [applicator, experimenter, implementer]
  • Data Expert [analyzer, cruncher, validator, visualizer, processor]
  • Policy Expert [analyzer, researcher, speaker, writer]
  • Activist [campaigner, organizer, reformer, supporter, speaker]

Solutions may focus narrowly on a specific problem/use case or combine various systems, data, and roles. Solutions may require buy-in from existing law enforcement agencies or be delivered entirely outside of traditional law enforcement.

Take a look at the following 'reverse pitch' videos for examples of the issues for which this Challenge is seeking solutions: 

What are you offering? 

Incubator participants will receive:

  • Mentorship and feedback from experts in criminal justice reform, innovation, investment, and data/technology;
  • Opportunities to receive feedback on your ideas from key stakeholders – law enforcement, justice-involved individuals, community-based organizations, and others;
  • Direct access to leading investors, thinkers, and partners focused on this space
  • Dedicated time and support for your team in collaborating on, prototyping, and launching/growing your solution
  • In-kind resources, including cloud services platforms (up to $100,000 in AWS Activate credits), project planning, product design (up to 5 Adobe Creative Cloud licenses), collaboration software, and impact consulting services.

Winning teams (those that submit to the Challenge Accelerator at the end of the Incubator program and are selected) will receive invitation to the follow-on six-month Accelerator with an immediate $50,000 in non-dilutive funding and hands-on coaching, partnership support, pro bono legal services, and access to additional funding and investment opportunities post-Accelerator.

How do I participate?  

  • The Unbundle Policing Incubator Application is now closed.
  • The Unbundle Policing Accelerator Application will be open October 1 - November 19, 2021.

We also welcome all types of support in order to make this Challenge successful. Please reach out to Ayla Smith at if you are interested in providing any of the following:

  • Program Support: Advise on and help design Incubator content, structure, and delivery method 
  • Customer Perspective: Provide a 'customer view' of problems that need to be solved in this space
  • Mentorship/Advising: Offer open office hours or consultations for teams who seek input; advise teams on an ad hoc basis; lead a workshop relevant to your experience 
  • Feedback/Pilot Partnership: Curate feedback sessions from stakeholders in your network, or explore a pilot at your organization or in a specific geographic region
  • Co-Funding/In-kind Resources: Provide financial or in-kind support to the program or directly to ventures demonstrating early success
  • Marketing Amplification: Help promote the Challenge to your networks

What are the Incubator/Accelerator eligibility requirements?

  • The Incubator and Accelerator are open to all, with the note that this is a US-based program focused on deployment of solutions in the US. 
  • Accelerator team leads must be at least 18 years old. 
  • At least 1 member of Incubator and Accelerator teams should be fluent in English.
  • Teams of any organization type are eligible (nonprofit, for-profit, hybrid, unregistered).

Can I apply for the Accelerator if I don't participate in the Incubator? 

Anyone can submit a Solution to the Challenge, with or without participating in the Incubator. That said, we highly encourage participation in the Incubator as it will provide a variety of support resources for all stages of teams and provide support in preparing, refining, and submitting your solution to the Challenge.

What about IP? 

All Incubator and Accelerator participants will retain their IP. 

What’s expected of me?

Incubator participants should:

  • Prioritize participation in workshops, mentor sessions, and reviewing/using resources (there is no time or attendance minimum requirement, but judges will consider active participation as part of the review process in selecting Challenge winners);
  • Attend and participate in relevant workshops;
  • Make specific and relevant asks of MIT Solve and Stand Together Ventures Lab staff so that we can best support your growth and success; 
  • Actively collaborate with your team (whether existing or newly formed) outside of workshop hours; and,
  • Follow the community expectations regarding civility, responsibility, and respect (which will be detailed during orientation in September).

Accelerator participants should: 

  • Commit to a six-month program where at least one team member is dedicated full time to solution deployment
  • Engage with product support, coaches, communities, business mentors, and other partners (through Stand Together Ventures Lab relationships) in order to launch or scale your solution

How do I add team members to my Accelerator application?

Please see "How to Add Team Members to Your Solution."  

Who’s involved?

Stand Together Ventures Lab: Stand Together Ventures Lab is the core organization putting on the Unbundle Policing Challenge and running the Incubator and Accelerator. Stand Together Ventures Lab (through STVL3, LLC and STVL6, LLC) is part of the Stand Together community, a group of foundations and organizations dedicated to empowering people in every community to improve their lives. The Lab originates, incubates, and funds ventures that leverage disruptive business models or unique applications of technology to solve core societal challenges.

MIT Solve: MIT Solve is powering the Unbundle Policing Challenge and supporting the Incubator and Accelerator. Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world.  

Customer Illuminated (CI): Customer Illuminated will be running the Thursday "Venture Series" Incubator sessions. CI is a boutique consulting firm that specializes in customer discovery and validation. We help startup founders, entrepreneurs, R&D departments, and PMs find product-market fit.

Global Access Network (GAN): Incubator and Accelerator participants will have access to GAN resources. 


Alternative Policing Services: Can include mental health services, traffic services, investigation/detective services, bylaw enforcement, parking services, etc.

Public Safety: We take an expanded view of public safety that not only prioritizes a protection definition (protecting individuals from violent harm), but the acknowledgement that being safe depends on much more: food, clean water and air, housing, a basic income and the means to obtain it--an education and a job. It might include health care, health insurance, and the freedom from discrimination.

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