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Play #2

Cultivate Local Innovation Ecosystems

Print a PDF of Play 2: Cultivate Local Innovation Ecosystems



To compete in the smart innovation landscape, cities must cultivate supportive environments for individuals and local companies. Unlike business models backed by venture capital funding and R&D branches of mega-corporations, local innovation ecosystems are incentivized to understand and serve their community’s needs. Public investment and procurement processes should support the development of technologies that prioritize collectively defined public value and locally sourced innovation.


It is no surprise that funder agendas steer smart city values. However, the project constraints stipulated by public sector and foundation investments tend to underestimate the lengthy engagement processes necessary for community-led innovation. Large smart technology vendors might pay lip service to community engagement, but cities typically have no processes in place to mandate such engagement prior to procurement. In framing a Local Innovation Ecosystem, we identify an alternative strategy of partnerships with universities, innovation hubs, labor, and community organizations both invested in local public value and better attuned to community needs. These relationships can help cities determine and prioritize public sector values, ethics, and knowledge when negotiating with large corporations.

Action Ideas

  • Seek partnerships with local universities to source talent and knowledge.
  • Cultivate data literate publics to empower critical input and innovation.
  • Identify local innovation capacity by creating an asset map of skills and interests.
  • Support public experimentation with new technologies and cultivate local expertise.
Play #3

Invite Public Influence