United States


Jim Strickland


652,717 (2016)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Justin Entzminger

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

Spotlight on innovation in Memphis

Memphis works with the FedEx Institute of Technology to run an Innovation Bootcamp on civic challenges. Employees from the biggest private employers (FedEx, Autozone, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital) in Memphis work together on priority projects for a three-day sprint to accelerate the innovation process and give new ideas for prototyping.

Innovate Memphis developed the Memphis Property Hub with a local blight-focused non-profit to provide layers of property survey data and datasets from multiple agencies. Its data is updated continuously and gives a picture into blight and the condition of the built environment throughout 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, Memphis does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Memphis approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Memphis is focused on

Neighbourhood condition factors
Policy areas by number of cities

Innovation skills or roles

Memphis does not have a dedicated team for innovation, but the city has hired external consultants to work on the topic.

The City of Memphis funds an external organization, Innovate Memphis, with 8-10 full-time and part-time staff. Three of them are solely dedicated to City innovation projects. The team also works with other public agencies, such as the transit authority and health department.

Innovation roles by number of cities

Terms Memphis most associates with innovation

Human-centered design
Resident engagement

Memphis' most common innovation activities

Engaging residents in new ways
Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
  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 data-driven analytics; taking risks or testing new ideas; and facilitating organizational change within the municipal administration.

How is innovation funded here?

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

Top sources of funding

Municipal budget
city council approved funds/grant and professional services contract in divisions
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.

Activities being funded

Launching or sustaining a project
Idea generation & brainstorming
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

Memphis also invests in digital systems and hosts expert workshops.

How is innovation measured?

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

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with academia, think tanks, and private philanthropy to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Policing and law enforcement



Waste and sewage

Social inclusion and equity

Public works


Insufficient data

Housing and built environment

Waste and sewage

Digital governance

No Response

Economic Development

Labour market and skills

Environment and climate change