Bloomberg Philanthropies Selects Twenty-One European Cities to Join New Digital Innovation Program

Cities to receive technical support, access to a network of city leaders, and training from top global innovation experts to improve critical services for residents

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today the 21 European capital cities that will participate in a new initiative aimed at accelerating digital innovation to improve critical services and deliver better results for residents. The goal of the program is to help European cities deliver high-impact digital services, and share lessons learned with cities around the rest of the world.

“European capital cities are already among the world’s leaders when it comes to digitizing government services to deliver better results for residents,” said Andrea Coleman of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Through this new offering, we hope to see these cities take their work to the next level by putting people at the heart of digital transformation, driving 21st Century ways of working across their organizations, and sharing lessons with other cities around the world.”

The participating cities announced today are:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • London, UK
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Prague, Czechia
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Warsaw, Poland

For the duration of the two-year program, participating cities will receive expert technical assistance including design support to focus intensely on and transform one resident-facing government service to deliver better outcomes. The types of issues cities are expected to address include housing, mobility, health, education and jobs. Following the two year program, city teams will have acquired the skills and peer network to tackle additional challenges and redesign even more services.

Beginning with a kick-off meeting in London in January 2020, representatives from the selected cities will participate in a series of in-person and virtual meetings that will connect them with leaders throughout Europe focused on digital transformation. City officials will have access to a specialized executive education program delivered by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School faculty to strengthen the skills necessary for leading digital innovation in their cities.

“Across Europe, cities are embracing technology to transform their public services and tackle complex challenges,” said Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Co-chair of the Harvard program. “This new program provides an opportunity for city leaders to further develop important leadership skills, from building high-performing teams and collaborating across departments to leveraging data, in order to drive digital transformation.”

“Digital transformation needs to engage staff from across the city – technologists, program managers, and executives” said David Eaves, Faculty Co-chair of the Harvard program. “City leaders able to motivate change and mobilize others, who are skilled at negotiating and experimenting will best position their cities to use technology to solve problems.”

At the start of the program, cities will participate in a diagnostic process on their organizational maturity to harness digital technology and identify opportunities to advance capabilities including: digital vision, governance, technology systems development, approaches to user centric design, and building an infrastructure for the use of data.

“The City of Bratislava understands the importance of delivering meaningful services to citizens that address their needs and make life in the city more attractive and pleasant. We are excited to work closely with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Harvard University, and our city peers over the next two years to work towards this goal,” said Petra Dzurovcinova, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Bratislava. “Through this program we hope to make progress on one of our key digital initiatives — to create a digital citizen account that would open up the access to city services and allow to connect new offerings in the future.”

“Dublin City Council is delighted to be participating on such a prestigious digital innovation program supported by Bloomberg philanthropies and Harvard. Cities around the world are facing similar challenges to adopt and scale their digital transformation and Smart City program. We look forward to working alongside Europe’s capital cities and sharing learnings and best practice across the network,” said Owen Keegan, Chief Executive, Dublin City Council. “Participation will help accelerate our internal digital capability and wider Smart City program to transform city services and address some of the big challenges facing cities delivering better outcomes for our citizens and communities”

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the new digital innovation program in June 2018 as an extension of the organization’s ongoing efforts to build innovation, data, and collaboration capacity within cities halls around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies invited all European capital cities to join the initiative.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 510 cities and 129 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.