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Innovation Updated: 18 Aug 2017

Can cities generate civic innovation?

The report Citie Framework – by Nesta, Catapult and Accenture – aims to find out how cities are working with local startups to encourage technological improvements in the urban environment.

smart cities bbva

New York, London, Helsinki, Barcelona and Amsterdam. This project has assessed the ability of 40 cities across the world to create technological communities around nine of the roles they can play with regard to entrepreneurship. This is the goal of Citie Framework, a project by Nesta, Catapult and Accenture.

This assessment was based on the following nine parameters, by answering these nine questions:

  1. Regulator: How is the city regulating the business models in order to generate disruption?
  2. Promotor: How does the city promote itself in the rest of the world as an innovative hub ? And how does the entrepreneur community promote itself?
  3. Customer:: Are award processes are accessible to SMEs and do they seek innovation actively?
  4. Host: How is the city using the space to attract and generate company growth?
  5. Investor:How is the city investing in the skills and businesses required to innovate?
  6. Connector:How is the city facilitating physical and digital connectivity?
  7. Strategist: How does the city draw clear strategic lines to build the foundation for innovation?
  8. Digital governor: How is the city fostering high quality commitment with the citizens?
  9. Datavore:  How is the city using the data at its disposal to optimize its services and provide valuable material to its entrepreneurs?

To complete the assessment tool, the report cross-checked these parameters against three basic concepts: openness, leadership and infrastructure.


New York is at the top of the list of cities investing in civic innovation, particularly in terms of strategy and long-term leadership. Barcelona (4th place) is similar to New York in that it has reinvented itself by growing on the basis on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Helsinki (3rd place) is an example of how a smaller city can develop innovation policies successfully, especially with regard to data usage.