Building on longstanding efforts to discover and drive innovation in cities, the initiative will help thousands of cities replicate solutions from other cities that meet their most pressing challenges
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building on more than 10 years of work to discover, nurture, and drive innovation in cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange to accelerate the spread of successful civic solutions between cities around the world. The first-of-its-kind initiative will turbocharge the efforts of thousands of local governments to adapt and replicate ideas from other cities that address their most acute challenges. The announcement was made at Bloomberg CityLab 2023 in Washington, D.C.
From confronting climate change to expanding access to affordable housing to addressing mental health, cities worldwide face increasingly similar issues. However, there are few user-friendly ways for over-burdened, under-resourced city halls to search for relevant ideas when they have a problem to solve, meaningfully assess an intervention’s feasibility, and have the supports necessary to implement it.
Through a $50 million investment, the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will provide a unified program for local governments to source proven ideas across a range of emerging issues, transfer implementation knowledge between cities, adapt effective solutions for their local contexts, and measure the impact of their interventions. The initiative will include:
- Grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies for more than 40 cities to implement evidence-backed ideas from other cities
- Multi-year technical assistance, led by Delivery Associates, to provide cities with direct adaptation and implementation support
- Ideas Tours with opportunities for local officials to visit other cities where promising ideas are being built and taking off
- Ongoing webinars, virtual events, and programming for city leaders to learn about evidence-based interventions that are ready to spread
- An Ideas Evaluation Fund for local governments to measure and validate their idea’s readiness for replication, strengthening its ability to spread to many more cities
- A digital web portal, launched today, where cities can register and learn about the initiative. Tools and trainings featuring replicable ideas for cities will be posted on the portal in the coming months.
- An annual recognition program at future CityLab summits for cities who lead the world in adapting ideas from other places
“Cities are a force for change on all of the big challenges we’re facing, and we’ve long worked to spread the best ideas globally,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “This new Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will intensify and expand those efforts, bringing new muscle and rigor to the replication process. Our goal is to transform what is currently an informal and ad-hoc word-of-mouth arrangement into an organized and data-driven operation that enlists the strongest networks around the world. It’s a first of its kind undertaking – a clearinghouse of ideas, research hub, implementation partner, and evaluation fund all rolled into one – and we are looking forward to seeing the results.”
The Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will bring together local governments and leading global and regional organizations already advancing idea-sharing between cities around the world. The United States Conference of Mayors, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth, Red de Innovación Local, C40 Cities, and the Partnership for Healthy Cities will serve as the Ideas Exchange’s founding partners, contributing their expertise and insight. Together, these networks represent 3,000 unique cities, all of which will have access to the Exchange’s offerings. To spur solution-spreading between cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies will convene this collaborative group of partners annually.
“The Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange builds on more than a decade of work investing and driving government innovation around the world, and is steeped in the latest research and insights on how we more effectively spread great ideas between cities,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Given the pressing challenges facing our cities, the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will offer a range to supports to help mayors find better ideas and quickly adapt them to local context – so the benefits spread far and wide.”
Since 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies has run a series of regional and global competitions to spark groundbreaking, replicable ideas that address cities’ biggest challenges. The Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will draw on ideas from these initiatives, those generated through the Exchange’s founding community, and trusted partners of Bloomberg Philanthropies as the first innovations available for sharing between cities.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge has provided 38 winning cities with funding and technical assistance to realize their ideas for addressing civic issues across five rounds of the competition. Expanding the impact of the Mayors Challenge, to date Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the replication of the most successful winning ideas to 337 other cities globally. From improving sustainability around waste management to strengthening language development for young children to digitizing paper-based licensing for increased government transparency, Mayors Challenge projects being replicated with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support now cover over 100 million residents around the world. In addition to sharing these innovations with more cities, the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will also spread the best and most transferrable projects to emerge from the Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure – launched in 2022 to help cities increase biking rates, revitalize neighborhoods, and promote the health of their communities.
“The joint work of the Government of Jalisco with Bloomberg Philanthropies has been the catalyst for greater technological development and regulatory improvement in our cities,” said Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez of Jalisco, Mexico. “The creation of Visor Urbano Guadalajara in 2016 marked a milestone in our vision of a smarter and more efficient future. Now, we are very proud to announce that this initiative is in the process of expanding, reaching more than 100 cities in Mexico, and soon, in Latin America. Together, we are building smarter cities, and incorporating innovation and technology to government practices.” Learn more about Guadalajara’s Visor Urbano here.
“The most impactful ideas will always be both evidence based and community centered,” said Ruth Ann Moss, Executive Director of Birmingham Talks for the City of Birmingham, Alabama. “The Providence Talks replication gave Birmingham the opportunity to bring a nationally recognized program to our community, learn alongside other cities, and supported us in structuring the program to meet our community’s specific needs. Since launching in 2019, the program has served over 2,500 children ages 0-3 in Birmingham, increasing exposure to interactive talk by 75 percent on average this past year alone.” Learn more about Providence Talks here and Birmingham’s replication here.
“Thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts to ensure city-led ideas spread, we were able to glean wisdom – and adapt a proven model – from the organization’s network of cities already implementing ambitious innovation across the globe,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird of Lincoln, Nebraska. “The global Mayors Challenge-winning Biochar Project was well aligned with our Resilient Lincoln goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow our city in smart, sustainable ways. Now in development in Lincoln through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts to help localities around the world work together to solve pressing problems, our local biochar project will operate on the cutting edge and deliver for our residents.” Learn more about Stockholm’s Biochar Project here and Lincoln’s replication here.
“The City of Buenos Aires has been working on healthy habits in schools for a long time, but it was with the introduction of Juntos Santiago’s experience and support from Bloomberg Philanthropies that we were able to scale up impact,” said María Calusio, Deputy Manager of Nutrition for the Ministry of Education for the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Incorporating lessons from Juntos Santiago, we launched a pilot program infused with gamification and inclusive incentives for the whole community, now in 40 schools, and actively reaching over 5,000 students. By the end of 2022, for those participating in the program, we increased students’ vegetable consumption by 45 percent, fruit consumption by 20 percent, and physical activity by 27 percent – making a meaningful difference in our young residents’ lives.” Learn more about Santiago’s Juntos Santiago here and Buenos Aires’ replication here.
“This new initiative will help mayors adopt innovative ideas as they work to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing their cities,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The United States Conference of Mayors. “We’re grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for providing mayors with this critical support, and look forward to partnering with them in building this important network for cities of all sizes.”
“Municipalities around the world are driving solutions to some of our biggest challenges – from climate action to affordable housing to mental health – and they are eager to adapt and build on what is working effectively elsewhere,” said Carole Saab, CEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “FCM is thrilled to join Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange to propel the passing of promising solutions between municipal leaders across the globe.”
“Great ideas are needed to tackle the great challenges cities around the world face,” said Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions, and Cities. “Many of those ideas are already being put into practice – and delivering results – in cities across the world. The OECD is delighted to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies in this innovative program to help ensure these ideas spread and benefit urban residents everywhere.”
“We are big believers in the value of peer-to-peer learning, which is why we are so thrilled to be a part of a larger network that helps cities in the search for solutions to the countless challenges they encounter,” said Delfina Irazustra, Founder of Red de Innovación Local. “We are more convinced than ever that we must shorten the gap between problems and solutions, and that’s for sure achieved by sharing what works. We are thrilled to join Bloomberg Philanthropies on this new initiative, which will enable more and more cities to access the knowledge and resources necessary for their transformation.”
“C40 is excited to be a named partner to the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange,” said Mark Watts, Executive Director C40 Cities. “Cities excel at collaborating with one another, and sharing ideas and solutions on climate is part of what helps to keep cities at the forefront of the global response to the crisis. These new resources from the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange are sure to accelerate the replication of the best ideas even further. C40 cities will hugely benefit from these new supports, as well as a new community of city leaders that will drive the exchange and implementation of solutions.”
“Improving public health in cities must be a universal and collective effort,” said Ariella Rojhani, Director of the Partnership for Healthy Cities. “The Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange will ensure that urban leaders have access to the resources and shared learning needed to save lives and create healthier and safer cities.”
For more information on the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange, visit bloombergcities.jhu.edu/program/idea-exchange.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 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: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Sam Fuld, Bloomberg Philanthropies