United States


Thomas G. Ambrosino



Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Jessica Kahlenberg

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

  • Improve service delivery

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Engagement with partners

Spotlight on innovation in Chelsea

Chelsea is collaborating with the Harvard Kennedy School's Innovation Field Lab, where the university helps the city think about how to predict and prevent problem properties from arising. Through this partnership, the school develops a proposal for the municipality each year during the course of the semester, and then sends a summer fellow afterwards to implement the project in the city.

Note: The City Innovation Snapshot (PDF version) was produced in 2019 and some aggregate findings have been updated with the latest survey results below.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Chelsea does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 20% of cities surveyed, Chelsea approaches innovation capacity from a holistic/macro level.

Policy areas that Chelsea is focused on

Economic Development
Policy areas by number of cities

Chelsea utilizes 1 innovation skill or role

Project manager
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the City Manager’s office, Chelsea has a dedicated staff for innovation (Innovation and Strategy Advisor).

Terms Chelsea most associates with innovation

Big picture re-thinking
Technological innovation

Chelsea's most common innovation activities

Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  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

Its innovation activities also include taking risks and testing new ideas and facilitating organizational change within the municipal administration.

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Chelsea has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Higher levels of government
(regional and provincial budgets)
Municipal budget
(city council approved funds/operating 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.
Non-public funding
(private sector, philanthropy, think tank)

Activities being funded

Launching or sustaining a project
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

Also, the city supports other activities including investment in digital systems and physical infrastructure; and payment for services to a third party.

How is innovation measured?

Chelsea has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with public agencies, philanthropy, NGOs, think tanks, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with academia and think tanks.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data

Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement

Insufficient data


Social inclusion and equity

Digital governance

No Response




Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills

Environment and climate change


Public works