Bloomberg Philanthropies runs a program called Innovation Teams (also called i-teams). It is one of their approaches to driving innovation within cities. What they do is provide grant funds to cities in order to help them assemble a local “i-team”, which they will fund for up to 3 years.
They, like me, believe that cities are uniquely positioned to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. So the teams essentially function as in-house (in-city?) innovation consultants, using an approach that relies heavily on research and data.
Here are some of the successes they’ve had so far (excerpt taken from here):
“In New Orleans the i-team helped the city reduce its murder rate by 20% in less than two years. In just sixteen months, Memphis’ i-team leveraged the approach to fill 53% of the empty storefronts in key commercial tracts of the city, giving hope to small business owners and reinvigorating the city’s core. Mayors in pioneer cities successfully deployed their i-teams to decrease homelessness, reduce youth violence, and stimulate economic growth, and these i-teams continue to be re-deployed to solve new and pressing problems.”
Because of these early successes, the program is expanding. Their latest round of funding will bring i-teams to Durham, Baltimore, Austin, Detroit, Anchorage, Be’er Sheva (Israel), and Toronto. This will be the first i-team in Canada. And I am excited to see what they are able to accomplish.