São Paulo



Bruno Covas


12,110,000 (2018)

Lead Innovation Officer

Daniel Annenberg

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

  • Engage residents and other stakeholders

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Human resource support

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in São Paulo

São Paulo Municipality created three public innovation labs. The MobiLab promotes the creation of innovative solutions to urban mobility issues by the city’s start-up ecosystem. The Pátio Digital is an open government initiative focused on increasing transparency and citizen engagement, and improving educational services. The (011).lab promotes new ways of designing policies with collaborative and citizen-centric approaches. Acting as platforms to increase citizen engagement and encourage collaboration between the government, the private sector and civil society, they strive to tackle the city’s recurrent complex issues through co-creation approaches and innovative problem-solving methodologies. By promoting the innovation culture within the municipality, they contribute to improve urban governance and services’ quality.

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, São Paulo does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, São Paulo approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that São Paulo is focused on

Digital governance
Policy areas by number of cities

São Paulo utilizes 8 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Public manager
International relations officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the Department of Innovation and Technology, São Paulo has two teams for innovation – Innovation Platform with 5 staff and Innovation Projects with 3 staff. In addition, there are other innovation initiatives in other departments of the municipality.

Terms São Paulo most associates with innovation

Human-centered design

São Paulo's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
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
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

How is innovation funded here?

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

Top sources of funding

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.

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

How is innovation measured?

São Paulo has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations. The city engages with different partners depending on the focus of work.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with academia and think tanks to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities. For instance, the city has established partnership with IDB and 4 other cities to develop Big Data capability.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Housing and built environment


Digital governance

Insufficient data


No Response

Economic Development

Policing and law enforcement



Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills

Environment and climate change


Social inclusion and equity

Public works