#cities

#citiesshare Session 4: Delivering innovation in cities

Cities aim to foster innovation, and yet, organising internal processes to actually deliver does not seem straightforward. During a peer learning session, James Anderson, Head of Government Innovation Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Philip Colligan, Deputy Chief Executive of Nesta, challenged global cities' representatives on what assets could be mobilised to make innovation a tangible reality. 

As an introduction to the session, Philip Colligan presented recent research that has identified four types oiTeams (innovation teams, units or funds) that make innovation happen in local and national governments around the world:

  1. Developers – creating new solutions to specific problems/policy priorities (from idea generation to delivery).
  2. Enablers – engaging citizens, NGOs and businesses to find new ideas (e.g. using challenges to make government an innovation platform to generate and run ideas, engaging SMEs, reaching to business /non-profits via challenges, etc.).
  3. Educators – looking at and changing culture of governance from a broader and deeper perspective, transforming processes, skills and culture of government  (up-skilling civil servants, training, consultancy).
  4. Architects – situated outside government but paid by government, thinking on macro-level, wider policy and system change.

City officials were asked which of those approaches resonated the most with cities, and whether there was a fifth type of team for innovators that could help them adopt or design in-house capacity.

What did city officials take away from this session?

  • Enthusiasm for innovation has moved beyond our capacity to measure it. Too many people are busy re-inventing things; yet we must get better at accounting for investment into innovation. E.g., hold competitions not based on app quality but on impact.
  •  Innovation teams that survive administrative shifts are the ones who measure and demonstrate impact data, while those that survived and didn’t measure, were good at describing their minimum value proposition. 
  • Get the Mayor or CEO of the city to champion the team. The Chief Executive’s role seems central to create an enabling environment, provide political support and foster a positive innovation climate. 
  • Leadership drives behaviour and is key in all levels to make innovation possible –it can be an enabler or a barrier.
  • Innovation teams do not need to be a permanent fixture. They can –and sometimes should– have a short-term mission.
  • The role of cities is to provide assets for innovation, and the number one asset is open data. However, data should be collected and stored in useful ways, such as for economic development.
  • Cities need to bridge the gap between public and private sector to benefit from the skills and expertise of industry. This can be accomplished by building partnerships between cities and other institutions to access knowledge. E.g. enablers are open to ideas outside government, such as teaming up with universities, like in Newcastle and Krakow.
  • City leaders are interested in better ways of connecting with peers in other cities, finding out what they are doing and how they are adapting and managing change. E.g. moving from pilot to scale.
  • Examples presented by city officials included: the Mayor of London Low Carbon prize; Dublin’s adoption of “Code for America”; the introduction of GIS in San Luis Potosi (Mexico) fighting management resistance; the design lab to educate civil servants in Sweden; Moscow’s Center for Innovation Development to close the gap between government and entrepreneurs; open innovation and engagement in York. 

What else should local governments do to deliver innovation? Share your insights below. 

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From 23-25 June 2014, Mayor of London Boris Johnson hosted Cities Summit | Solutions Worth Sharing together with Citymart and supported by Citi. The Summit brought together city governments, businesses and entrepreneurs with bright ideas to help improve citizens' quality of  life. The Summit kicked off with a Peer Learning Session for cities, creating a dynamic dialogue among city officials around four key themes on how to make innovation a tangible reality. Participating cities included London, Barcelona, Dublin, Fukuoka, Heerlen, Kristiansand, Krakow, Lobito, Louisville, Madrid, Malmö, Moscow, Newcastle, Philadelphia, San Luis Potosí, Sant Cugat, Seville, Sheffield, Tampere, Tartu, Valencia, and York. 

Check out the entire #citiesshare series in our blog for the contents of the other sessions. 

#citiesshare Session 3: Overcoming procurement barriers

How to overcome the hurdles in public procurement? Filipo Sabatini, Managing Director at Citibank, and Adrian Walker, Global Co-Head of Hogan Lovells Infrastructure, Energy, Resources and Projects, facilitated a session with city officials on how to prevent jurisdiction from becoming a barrier to innovation procurement. Representatives of global cities exchanged ideas on how to adopt the best solutions to enhance public services and citizens' quality of life, while respecting the rules.

City officials discussed the following ideas on how to make public procurement less prescriptive and more collaborative:

  • Rules and regulations can be positive. There are two options: 1) de-regulation for innovation with a supporting infrastructure, or 2) new regulation to support SMEs through innovation partnerships.
  • Overregulation cannot guarantee better procurement; hence, it is necessary to make compromises between regulation and solutions. It is hard to innovate when validation and proofs are required.
  • It is important to explore problem areas and not just solution areas, and avoid prescribing technology.
  • Rules can help or hinder. Legislation, especially at national level, can become an excuse for doing things in the same way. On the other hand, new deal structures can lead to more flexible interactions.
  • Fear is the biggest barrier of innovation, followed by conservative, defensive attitudes within leadership. It is important to find your champion and change the mindset to overcome conservatism and inertia. Show good examples from other cities when you have to deal with a conservative leader, and understand that some environments are more prescriptive than others. The best way to convince a city to do it differently is to show that another city has already done it successfully.
  • Departments and teams should work together, and there should be open conversations between the legal and procurement teams.
  • Meet and learn from other cities. Find out how other cities procure and learn from their experience, mistakes, and successes. Cities can help each other by sharing positive examples and welcoming private sector expertise. Embracing and learning from failure is essential.
  • Governments look at innovative management and finance models, such as innovative procurement and PPPs, although risks are still perceived. Part of the future procurement challenge will be to stimulate wider market appraisal. Invite another level of government (e.g. central or regional government) to make the process multilateral and encourage market development.
  • Specific examples provided by city officials included: using regulation to avoid corruption and to increase transparency (Moscow); asking the market for solutions and conducting market consultation for up-to-date technology (Eindhoven); including social considerations and value (Malmö); providing opportunities to SMEs through legacy projects (London).
  • Regarding the key issue of scaling solutions, Barcelona considers important to have a fixed budget to spend on innovative solutions. In Japan, procurement processes are deregulated which has increased flexibility and speed, thereby leading to greater competitiveness. In Philadelphia, a new approach has been introduced to invest in exploration and look into problem areas.

 In conclusion, it is important to fast-track innovation, and allow test & scale in procurement.

Join the discussion by leaving a comment below. 

_______________________________________________________________________

From 23-25 June 2014, Mayor of London Boris Johnson hosted Cities Summit | Solutions Worth Sharing together with Citymart and supported by Citi. The Summit brought together city governments, businesses and entrepreneurs with bright ideas to help improve citizens' quality of  life. The Summit kicked off with a Peer Learning Session for cities, creating a dynamic dialogue among city officials around four key themes on how to make innovation a tangible reality. Participating cities included London, Barcelona, Dublin, Fukuoka, Heerlen, Kristiansand, Krakow, Lobito, Louisville, Madrid, Malmö, Moscow, Newcastle, Philadelphia, San Luis Potosí, Sant Cugat, Seville, Sheffield, Tampere, Tartu, Valencia, and York. 

Next post will cover how to organize and deliver innovation in cities.