December 2, 2019

Enhancing Innovation Capacity in City Government

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Going towards a deeper comprehension of the different factors that enables innovation in city governments, as well as a better understanding of what local administrations are trying to achieve through their innovation efforts.

Enhancing Innovation Capacity in City Government seeks to bring better understanding of the different methods and forms in which local public sector innovation capacity is taking shape within city administrations. By combining data, policy expertise and dialogue with city leaders and innovation officers, this paper undertook the task to assess why, how and where cities are developing their capacity to innovate.

The report shows that establishing a culture of innovation whereby municipal staff are encouraged to experiment, take risks and learn from failure is a key enabler and driver to innovation; and so are external partnerships that can supplement or help develop internal capacity, for example, to assist in piloting and evaluating a new programme. Also, committed and supportive leadership can signal the priority level for the city’s innovation efforts throughout the administration and encourage engagement at all levels.

Across the world, cities, where most people work and live, are displaying tremendous innovation potential in local public administrations, exploring new and different solutions to achieve goals related to residents’ well-being. These efforts ultimately target poverty reduction, public health outcomes, expanded education access, tailored services for senior citizens, new revenue generation, local economic productivity and competitiveness, among others. Municipalities are taking a number of steps to reach their goals using local public sector innovation, through staffing – creating roles such as chief innovation officers and establishing innovation teams, developing innovation goals, strategies and plans to direct their new efforts. They also establish partnerships with academia, the private sector, and other institutions such as international organisations and philanthropic foundations, to improve their data analysis and evidence-based decision-making.

The key findings from this report are:

  • A dedicated strategy encourages cities to stimulate their long-term capacity to innovate by publicly stating those goals so that the city can be held accountable to achieving them.
  • Cities rank leadership commitment as the most important determinant of successful innovation work.
  • Cities that ensure the production, free flow, and utilisation of data and knowledge across the public sector are better positioned to improve their innovation capacity.
  • Cities that set up a specific financing framework for innovation have a strong foundation for the implementation of new ideas.
  • Cities that evaluate the impact of their innovation work are better positioned to scale-up innovative projects that offer a better return on investment of taxpayers’ dollars.

Finally, this document also give possible next steps to take in order to go further on the path of enhancing innovation capacity. These steps include: go deeper on data, investigate innovation capacity and well-being, develop policy recommendations and build an innovation website.

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