55%48 cities

01. Innovation strategy

More than half of respondent cities (55%) have formal innovation goals, while just under half (49%) have a formal innovation strategy.

A city’s innovation strategy is the course forward for how to achieve innovation goals. Cities with a formal innovation strategy reported to be more experienced with activities that foster innovation than those that do not have a formal strategy. In addition, the vast majority of cities (75%) prioritise specific policy areas in their innovation efforts, in particular social inclusion, equity and welfare; transport and mobility; and economic development.

80%70 cities

02. Leadership and staffing

Almost 80% of respondent cities reported that political and managerial leadership is an essential component for supporting innovation capacity.

Politicians and managers can send strong messages about the importance of innovation and the relevance of creating a culture that values, rewards and recognises innovation. The emergence of innovation teams in city government is a relatively new approach, as only 21% of them have existed for more than five years. Additionally, where the innovation capacity sits is strategically important and dependant on the administration’s approach, in particular, if the administration is aiming for a whole of government approach or a policy sector focus.

85%75 cities

03. Data use and capacity

For 85% of surveyed cities, data plays a significant or somewhat significant role in innovation decision- and policy-making.

Cities produce a large amount of data, and this data has the potential to improve the ways they operate. But, data availability by policy sector remains uneven and sometimes the data is inactionable. Cities collect more data on areas such as transport (64%), policing and law enforcement (57%), land use/zoning (51%), and housing (47%). Data on areas such as social welfare and inclusion (32%), blight (29%), tourism (29%), and culture (20%) is less extensive. Of the cities that claimed data plays a key role in their innovation work, 75% have established partnerships with academia and think tanks to improve data management.

80%70 cities

04. Resources and funding

Survey results showed that 80% of respondent cities have specific funding to support innovation capacity.

Adequate financing of innovation work strongly determines the implementation of new ideas. Consistent sources of funding allow cities to conduct research, prototype or test new ideas, implement ideas in larger scale, and recruit highly qualified staff. The vast majority (94%) have ring-fenced resources from the municipal budget to fund part of their innovation work. Cities also rely on external sources (non-profit foundations and philanthropies), and, to a lesser extent, on private-sector investments. Most funding (79%) goes directly toward specific projects that are considered innovative. City investment in innovation work is both relatively new and marginal in comparison to other investment areas (i.e. health, transport, urban infrastructure).

16%14 cities

05. Outcomes

Only 16% of cities with formal innovation goals conduct a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of the impacts of their innovation strategy.

Cities that evaluate their innovation work are better positioned to scale up innovative projects that improve operations. They also are less likely to engage in practices or projects that offer little return on investment. Cities that consistently evaluate the results of their innovation work have, across the board, greater familiarity with innovation than cities that lack procedural assessments. However, the large majority of cities only assess some elements of their innovation strategy and consider it too early to tell. Factors that limit the evaluation of innovation strategies in cities include: lack of financial resources, technical capacity, methodological instruments, and strategy assessment. Proper evaluation and monitoring practices can help cities achieve their innovation goals by fostering accountability to citizens and donors and by determining the effectiveness and contribution of the projects to achieve the city’s socio-economic development goals. Monitoring and evaluation of innovation work remains a key area for development across local governments.