John Tory


2,800,000 (2014)

Lead Innovation Officer

Paula Kwan

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Human resource support

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Engagement with partners

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in Toronto

Toronto was the first city in Canada to have a team dedicated to innovation efforts called i-team, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies. The team is focused on tackling ambitious projects that influence the lives of residents. The team has a unique office space on the main floor of City Hall that embodies transparency, accessibility and open government.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 44% of cities surveyed, Toronto has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to over one-third of cities surveyed, Toronto approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Also see Excellence Toronto Initiative

Policy areas that Toronto is focused on

Social inclusion and equity
Policy areas by number of cities

Toronto utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Open data advisor
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the City Manager’s office, Toronto’s dedicated team for innovation – Toronto i-team – consists of 2 staff. In addition, the Transformation Office is also working on innovation and modernising government.

Terms Toronto most associates with innovation

Human-centered design

Toronto's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
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
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

How is innovation funded here?

Like 77% of cities surveyed, Toronto has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

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

Toronto does not fund any specific activities.

55 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
53 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
3 cities
Investing in digital systems
2 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
2 cities
Paying for services

Toronto’s funding for innovation capacity is generally directed to operate the innovation office.

How is innovation measured?

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

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with civic tech community and other cities collect and analyse data.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement



Social inclusion and equity

Digital governance

No Response

Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills

Environment and climate change



Public works