Neighborhood Challenge FAQ

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Neighborhood Challenge: How It Works

The newly-launched Neighborhood Challenge open innovation platform provides an opportunity for the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and their government, nonprofit, and private sector partners to consider publicly submitted ideas, suggestions, and comments, and to create an online dialogue that will help inform the City about innovative solutions to help small businesses adapt and recover as they seek to reopen safely and responsibly.

The Neighborhood Challenge platform creates a space for neighborhood nonprofits, small businesses, and the innovation ecosystem to connect and engage, elevating the challenges that may be faced by businesses and crowdsourcing various technology solutions.

To help guide and pilot impactful ideas, a committee of small business, economic development, and technology experts will select the most promising proposed solutions to further assess and pilot, with City agencies taking a leading role in further developing the idea and supporting solution teams by helping to seek project funding, providing technology guidance, and establishing external partnerships.

For solutions that are championed and piloted by neighborhood nonprofits, technology companies, or other non-governmental stakeholders, SBS, EDC, and its partners will provide other types of support where appropriate to help shepherd projects forward, including:

  • Seeking tech industry volunteers to assign to the project team to provide initial advising and coaching,
  • Assigning a City agency representative to the project team to provide guidance and subject matter expertise,
  • Accessing EDC's network of stakeholders and partners, and
  • Sourcing Tech Talent Pipeline industry volunteers for implementation assistance.

What is Neighborhood Challenge?

In light of the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has adversely impacted New York City's small business activity, industry, and public life, the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the New York City Business Assistance Corp (NYBAC), and the Urban Tech Hub at Company, is relaunching its Neighborhood Challenge program as a virtual, open innovation platform to help identify specific challenges being experienced by neighborhood commercial districts and their small businesses, and propose innovative solutions that could help mitigate the short- and long-term economic impacts of the pandemic, support and accelerate their recovery, and amplify any new opportunities that may arise during this difficult time.

We aim to:

  • Facilitate connection and collaboration among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors
  • Spur open innovation and collaborative problem-solving, allowing for crowdsourced solutions that address immediate needs and have long-term impact
  • Enhance the near-term recovery and long-term resiliency of small businesses and industry
  • Pilot projects on the local level that can be scaled or replicated, seeding possibilities for systems change across our small business community
  • Foster the innovation ecosystem and tech talent in NYC

How does the IdeaScale platform help to accomplish this?

IdeaScale provides a platform for all community stakeholders to share challenges that NYC's small businesses are currently facing and propose any potential solutions. Once a challenge has been submitted to the community, stakeholders can comment or vote on existing submissions, suggest solutions, and engage with the knowledge-sharing surrounding each challenge. This provides the opportunity for small business owners, neighborhood nonprofit organizations, small business advocates and industry associations, the technology and innovation community, and government agencies to start and join solution teams to collaborate on pursuing and piloting viable projects.

Who is managing this platform?

NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and the New York City Business Assistance Corp (NYBAC) are sponsoring this program and platform. The Urban Tech Hub at Company, the Tech Talent Pipeline, and NYC BID Association are partnering to co-moderate and evaluate ideas.

Who can participate? How can they participate?

All New Yorkers and community stakeholders can participate!
Our targeted audience includes:

  • Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
  • Community-based Development Organizations (CBDOs)
  • Small business owners and managers
  • Small business advocacy and industry associations
  • Technology and innovation incubators and accelerators
  • Tech companies and startups
  • Technologists and industry volunteers
  • Academic institutions
  • Private/philanthropic/corporate funders
  • Government agency representatives

All community stakeholders can submit challenges and propose solutions. A challenge and its corresponding solution should address specific small business challenges being experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges may be citywide, or may only be experienced in specific neighborhoods or boroughs.

While Neighborhood Challenge is not new, this year's program is different. Where can I find information about previous Neighborhood Challenge projects?

In its previous iteration, Neighborhood Challenge focused on integrating data and technology platforms with localized commercial district expertise to help BIDs and CBDOs propose and pilot impactful projects. Due to the extraordinary circumstances driven by COVID-19, SBS is working with EDC and the innovation community to relaunch the Neighborhood Challenge program to help with the COVID-19 response and recovery. You can find information about the previous iterations at


How do I change my profile image?

Changing your avatar

You can change your name and avatar on your IdeaScale Profile.

To change your profile name, go to profile and enter the desired name next to the "Name" text box, and click "Save Changes". 

To change your profile image.

1. Click on the "Browse" button and select the image of your choice.
2. Click on the "Upload" button, the chosen image will appear beside the earlier images.
3. Click the image you want to set as your avatar. (A blue outline will be seen around the chosen image) Make sure to "Save Changes".

How can I vote on an idea?

In order to vote for an idea you need to login to the community. Once your are logged in simply click on 'I Agree' or 'I Disagree' button of the idea you would like to vote on.

Note : If the administrator of your community has disabled voting, you won't see these buttons.

How can I comment on an idea?

To comment on an idea, login to the community and click on "Add your comment" or click on the "Comments" link below the idea description.

You will be taken to the idea detail page where you'll see a comment field to enter text.

How can I see my activity within the community?

To see your community activity, select "My Community Activity" from the dropdown in the top right hand corner of your community. You will be taken to a new page where your activity details displayed.

How do I follow/unfollow another member?

Following a community member:

By accessing the activities profile of a user(X), another user(Y) can click the link [Follow] to register for the notifications by email regarding (X)'s activities in the community.

Please Note: You can find a user's activity profile from the leaderboard or by clicking on their user name displayed on their ideas and comments.

Each time the user(Y) who is being followed submits an idea the follower(X) will be notified by email.
The follower(X) can also see the activities of the members they follow from: