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Global Innovation Collaborative

Berlin, London, New York and Paris have come together to share emerging innovation and test new approaches to support economic recovery. Through a digital collaboration platform, the initiative is supporting the launch of an open innovation competition to invite passionate people with great ideas to deploy solutions in local test-beds in each city. Innovators will co-develop pioneering solutions to shared COVID-19 challenges, alongside datasets and innovation assets from industry.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

In a time of global economic depression, cities didn't have a way to showcase their own local test-beds to innovators nor to trial new solutions: this initiative looks to bring the two together. Cities also wanted to understand what their shared challenges were and to have access to better data sets analyses. The innovation itself was co-created, leveraging an open framework by Nitrous (an urban impact business and one of the project leads), including design thinking and UX sessions with potential users. The innovation was therefore developed to cater specifically for citycity collaboration and open innovation user journeys.

The Global Cities Innovation Collaborative is built on a digital innovation platform, co-created by multiple cities to collaboratively design and host their shared challenges for recovery. The platform leverages open data sets from multiple cities to inform challenge analysis and create automated benchmarking to see where shared challenges exist. The platform then allows these challenges to be hosted and for innovators to apply. Once innovators have applied, the platform helps with detailed, unbiased application review and jury, as well as innovator matchmaking. Its overall mission is to leverage collective innovation to speed economic recovery from COVID-19.

For the co-creation phase, the platform allows:
• The secure upload of datasets and other software assets for cross-partner sharing.
• Dynamic collaboration rooms allow innovators to brainstorm, host events and work on their co-creation projects from international locations.
• Tracking and insights so citizens and stakeholders can follow the progress of projects, as well as ask questions to project teams

The team will look to grow the initiative over the coming years by on-boarding new cities and increasing the data analysis of shared challenges and collaborative functionalities. It will also make the software available for other cities and public sector bodies to use in their own open innovation approaches.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Challenge-based co-creation has often been done in silos between cities, following mostly an unstructured approach. Leveraging a shared platform will help to scale real impact collaboration between cities across their shared challenges and test-beds.

What is the current status of your innovation?

As of this date of publication in 2021, the project is in the final selection stage of its first challenge focusing on supporting the recovery of the creative sectors in Berlin, London, New York, and Paris. Winners will be announced and showcased in December 2021 and projects will be scaled throughout 2022.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

- 2 user focus groups with citizens, innovators and industry partnerships across UX and design thinking sessions
- Support at director and mayoral level from participating cities (London, New York, Berlin and Paris)
- Nitrous, Microsoft, Bloomberg - lead partners and project facilitator

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Key stakeholders and beneficiaries include: City economic development and innovation officers, local innovators and end user citizens.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Key expected results:
- 5 new co-creation solutions developed by innovators from each city on shared challenges
- Seed stage fundraising secured from local investors into at least 3 of the 5 co-created propositions

Challenges and Failures

The biggest challenge is balancing the political factors of working with several cities on a shared initiative.

Conditions for Success

Leadership and guidance will be paramount to the success of scaling the initiative, as well as the right test-beds provided by the partners to ensure high quality innovators are sufficiently attracted to engaging.


The project is expanding the solution already to 6 African cities, 3 further cities on east coast of the United States and a roll-out across 50 cities in a developed country. Particular opportunities are being observed in the MENA and SEA regions.

Lessons Learned

Inter-city innovation collaboration
Open innovation
Finding mutually beneficial outcomes through data
Citizen centric design thinking
Co-creation for public sector impact
Innovative procurement

Year: 2021
Level of Government: Local government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

2 September 2021

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