What is the Employee Innovation Challenge?

The Innovation Challenge is a Countywide event where employees come together to develop ideas that will improve the organization.

Participants will form teams and have the chance to collaborate with their team members and consult with subject matter experts to build out a presentation for their idea.

Presentations are judged and prizes are awarded to winning teams. 

Innovation Challenge Graphic

The 2022 Innovation Challenge is over!

Thank you to all our participants for making the event a success and sharing their innovative ideas!

Please congratulate our 2022 Finalists:

Innovation Invasion 

Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Foiles, Nancy Chu, Matthew Benavides 

When it comes to innovation, we need to think outside the box! Coming up with ideas and processes that have never been implemented or seen before in order to improve the current way to carry out essential duties for the County, community and our environment.  So, for our innovative idea for the County of San Mateo, our team would like to create an Emergency Procurement app/portal.  This innovative state of the art app/portal will make purchasing easier and more efficient. It is essential in an emergency to be able to streamline the ordering of supplies and/or equipment that is needed during critical situations. 

How this idea impacts the organization: Our idea will provide the County and Public with an eco-friendly and sustainable platform for emergency procurement. It is user friendly, contains resources and information necessary for response and recovery for emergency services. 

The Neverending Story(tellers)

Kate Johnson, Karen Pugh, Wanda Showaker 

The focus of this innovation is to create a collection of qualitative data, capturing the unique experience of being a county employee through storytelling. Personal, diverse, and targeted stories of staff would be voluntarily collected at multiple points throughout the employee lifecycle and stored in a database. This database could be easily searched, and information pulled depending on the need. Storytelling therefore would become an on-demand and easily accessible tool to engage our workforce, recruit hard-to-fill positions, and welcome new staff to San Mateo County. 

How this idea impacts the organization: This idea will help County departments and divisions recruit hard to fill positions, engage staff and reduce turnover.  It will positively impact the Counties reputation by having staff stories publicized. 

The Three C's 

Chaten Berry, Christine Chong, Cindy Chen 

Creating an app that connects County employees with more accessible and affordable housing options.   

We would reach out to apartment complexes throughout San Mateo County and secure X number of spots specifically for County employees. 3-4 per complex 

Employees will be provide discounted rent rate in return for 1 year lease agreement if 2 or more County employees live together 

  • In return we provide free marketing to apartment complexes and home owners  

  • Providing well established candidates who have job security and financial backing 

  • Requiring 1 year commitment 

How this idea impacts the organization: Provides more accessible and affordable housing options to County employees which will create a more united connected workforce and also, reduces our carbon footprint by providing opportunities to live and commute closer to work. 

Airports Charging Forward 

Michael Byrne, Gretchen Kelly, Mark Witsoe, Davi Howard 

Our team will utilize emerging electric aircraft technology for flight training at the County of San Mateo’s two general aviation airports. With surprisingly low power demands, upgrading existing facilities at the airports is a realistic and straightforward endeavor. Providing aircraft charging stations is a starting point for emission-free and quiet flight training at the County of San Mateo Airports. This award will allow us to complete the necessary planning and environmental clearances to seek funding for the acquisition and installation of electric aircraft chargers through federal and state grant programs. 

How this idea impacts the organization: Community concerns about aircraft noise, leaded fuel, and global warming are rising. Utilizing innovative electric aircraft technology for local flight training is the starting point for emission-free and quiet flight training at the County of San Mateo Airports. 

Resilient Voices 

Gladys Balmas, Don Orr, Sujatha Ganesh Tadimeti, Darryl Lampkin and Priscilla Padilla-Romero 

Boards and Commissions play an important role in the creation of an equitable community as the formal and permanent infrastructure for community voice in County decision-making.  However, they struggle to get representation from the diverse communities in San Mateo County.   We propose a podcast that interviews community members to learn about who their community is and bridges the gap between the needs of their communities and the business of our commissions. 

How this idea impacts the organization: We are asking that Boards and Commissions listen to these stories of lived experiences of residents across San Mateo County and THEN include these voices in their advocacy to improve community participation. 

The People's Qmmunity Resource 

Deandra Lee, Nupoor Kulkarni, Tania Perez, Frances Lobos 

QR codes will be placed in different places around San Mateo County. 

Each QR code will be linked to a page on the SMC website within interactive map of the locations of all QR codes and it will have information about the history of the location, the connection to health, and available resources. There will also be a link to the SMC connect website to guide community to any other general resources available. There will be rewards for ”unlocking” groups of locations on the interactive map such as coupons to small businesses or free parking passes. 

How this idea impacts the organization: It will increase community knowledge of SMC history and public health. It will also connect community to available resources, foster community belonging and engagement and also bridge art and health. 

People's Choice Award: Going to the Chapel 

Amy Moon, Holly Poon, Joseph Ticzon 

Our idea is to revamp our County's Wedding Chapel by relocating it to a larger room to accommodate the wedding party in session as well as the next scheduled couple & participants who currently stand in the lobby. We'd like to have the backdrop updated and this can even be by a County-wide employee contest for those who love weddings or know interior design. The design should be cost-effective, sustainable & inclusive.  We also think a green screen addition in the room would be great to give couples nice photo backgrounds without county offices/buildings in their wedding photos. 

How this idea impacts the organization: This would be an upgrade from what we currently have for couples who choose a civil ceremony and word of mouth may even increase revenue.