Lord Mayor

Hazel Chu


554,554 (2016)

Lead Innovation Officer

Jamie Cudden

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from the Dublin City Chief Executive

Spotlight on innovation in Dublin

In partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Dublin has engaged in a number of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) challenges—a mechanism that enables the city to connect with technology businesses in search of innovative solutions to city challenges. The initiative has awarded 42 innovation contracts and over €1.5 million funding to startups and SMEs. One of the SBIR projects, See.Sense, developed a bike light using sensor technology that gathers data on road surface quality, most frequently used routes and near-miss incidents in order to improve the cycling experience in Dublin. The project is currently in its second trial, collecting more data from additional participants and helping to inform the city’s decision-making on new cycling infrastructure plans.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

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

Policy areas that Dublin is focused on

Economic Development
Environment and climate change

Dublin has established a number of Smart Districts across the region, providing businesses with testbeds to trial and test scalable solutions in a real life environment. The city launched its first 5G testbed in the docklands area, has worked with companies and citizens to collect better data on cycling in the city which can impact on decision making processes. The city works with universities to help research alternative solutions like nature based interventions to prevent flooding. Dublin also works with larger companies like MasterCard to gain better economic insights to highlight how the city is doing.

Policy areas by number of cities

Dublin utilizes 7 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Community engagement staff
Data scientist
Environmental scientist
Geographic Information System (GIS)
Information Technology (IT)
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the City Manager’s office, Dublin’s Smart City team is currently building an Innovation Network with approximately 300 members across the organization so that staff members from different departments can effectively share their experiences and knowledge.

Terms Dublin most associates with innovation

Technological innovation

Dublin's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
  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

How is innovation funded here?

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

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.
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.
External funding
External funding
This could include private, philanthropic/non-profit and/or academic/think tank resources.
Non-financial resources
Non-financial resources
This could include staff on loan and/or other in-kind contributions (e.g. materials, infrastructure…)

Activities being funded

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

Dublin’s funding for innovation capacity is generally used for organizing staff engagement workshops, supporting pilots and staff's ideas, highlighting innovative projects currently happening within the council and securing additional funding opportunities. Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Dublin'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?

Dublin has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, and not-for-profit organizations.

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.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Government finance

Environment and climate change

Insufficient data

Land use

Built environment


Waste and sewage


Economic Development

Social inclusion and equity


Public works


Digital governance

No Response


Labour market and skills


Policing and law enforcement

Social welfare/social services