I-Teams and Innovation Programs
Contemporary city governments face a bewildering array of issues, from reduced budgets to changing societal needs — taking them on requires creative and innovative thinking. Bloomberg Philanthropies funds Innovation Teams (“i-teams”) to help city mayors tackle their toughest challenges and deliver better results.
After a highly successful test of the i-teams approach in five cities, the mayors involved invested public money to sustain the program when the grants ended. Over 40 cities around the world have participated in the program, making use of the teams’ research and analyses to assess local conditions, develop original solutions, and measure progress.
City governments don’t often address issues such as sustainability and poverty reduction as well as they might because responsibility for such concerns is shared between multiple departments. Further, many mayors’ offices lack the staff, organizational capacity, or financial resources to test and adopt new ideas. The i-teams program was established to drive change more effectively. Reporting to the mayor, i-teams work closely with colleagues in city government, seeking to understand the problems at hand by building empathy for the people impacted by them, then working hard to come up with transformative solutions.
Innovation teams are uniquely positioned to make big dents in tough problems. They gather and use data and look beyond their city limits to learn from other contexts. They are human-centered, tackling challenges by enlisting residents to help define problems and test solutions. They test ideas early to improve them quickly and remain focused on results. And, they are versatile, shouldering challenges across a broad array of city issues and bringing people together across departments to take them on.
The Innovation Teams program is part of the American Cities Initiative, a suite of investments that empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy.
Top photo: The I-teams in Louisville, Kentucky host a Wi-Fi hackathon.