United Kingdom


Marvin Rees


463,400 (2019)

Lead Innovation Officer

Freyja Lockwood

Innovation is helping to:
  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Bristol

Bristol’s One City Plan, launched in early 2019, sets the vision that by 2050 Bristol will be a fair, healthy, inclusive, and sustainable city that is digitally enabled with world-class infrastructure for all. The goals in Bristol’s One City Plan are decided and agreed by partners across the city and not just by the council. The goals are set out through six thematic lenses, mapped against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. A dedicated Dashboard links to data sets related to the One City Plan goals. Part of Bristol’s One City Plan involves a £10m investment fund for city initiatives, including those focused on innovation. Bristol’s City Innovation Team is supporting delivery of the One City Plan, helping to work toward achieving Bristol’s shared One City vision through the use of innovation and technology.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Bristol does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, Bristol approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that Bristol is focused on

Inclusive growth

Sustainability: As the first UK city to declare a Climate Emergency, Bristol City Council is at the forefront of innovation in creating a carbon neutral and climate resilient city, with a hugely ambitious goal of achieving this by 2030. Bristol is also making positive changes to our city's food system and working towards becoming a Gold Sustainable Food City

Inclusive growth: Bristol's shared One City vision is that: In 2050 Bristol is a fair, healthy and sustainable city. Bristol City Council's Connecting Bristol smart city strategy focuses on how technology, data and innovation can play a role in making Bristol a better place for everyone. Our priority is to ensure that our digital infrastructure is fit-for-purpose and accessible by everyone, wherever they live, learn, play or work in the city. This vital foundation will benefit both citizens and businesses, enabling our region's inclusive growth prospects, increasing digital inclusion and delivering a wide range of societal benefits. New ultrafast fiber broadband options are being made available across council owned housing stock.

Policy areas by number of cities

Bristol utilizes 7 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Community engagement staff
Communication officer
Sociologist / Political Scientist
Social innovation
Design thinking
User-centered design
Innovation roles by number of cities

As part of Bristol City Council’s Growth and Regeneration Division, the in-house City Innovation Team consists of 8 staff.

Terms Bristol most associates with innovation

Big picture re-thinking
Bold leadership

Bristol's most common innovation activities

Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Engaging residents in new ways
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

Bristol City Council's City Innovation Team undertakes horizon scanning, convening expertise to maintain foresight and an understanding of relevant technology, good practice, potential partners, and funding sources. For example, the City Innovation Team recently led a cross-sector workshop to explore the future of logistics and new distribution technologies. The session identified relevant strategic trends, the implications for transport, infrastructure and skills, and generated insights that will inform strategic planning within the council and with external partner organizations across the region.

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Bristol has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity. Funding tends to be project specific and deliver innovation outcomes rather than directly supporting innovation capacity. For example, our flagship smart city project, REPLICATE is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 program.

Top sources of funding

International/multilateral institution budget
International/multilateral institution budget
This refers to resources from international and/or multilateral institutions’ budgets (i.e. European Union)
Central/federal/national government budget
Central/federal/national government budget
This refers to funding in the form of budget support to city authorities. Example: Stockholm (Sweden) launched the Hub for Innovation, a three-year long project funded by Sweden's National Innovation Authority, Vinnova in 2017. The hub supports a more innovative working culture within the city hall.
Regional/State/Province/Territorial budget
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in digital systems
Investing in physical infrastructure
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Bristol's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Bristol has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, private philanthropy, academia and think tanks, to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities. The Know Your Place partnership saw seven local authorities join together to develop a digital heritage mapping application, hosted by Bristol.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data




Policing and law enforcement

Environment and climate change

Social inclusion and equity

Labour market and skills


Land use

Built environment

Social welfare/social services

Insufficient data

Waste and sewage

Economic Development

Government finance


Public works


Digital governance

No Response