CITIE reports: City approaches to catalysing innovation and entrepreneurship

As we wrap up the CITIE programme, we wanted to share our findings and bring together summaries of the various reports we have published since the project launched.

Our analysis of over 50 global cities has revealed a rich diversity of approaches to catalysing innovation and entrepreneurship: in other words, there is no single pathway to success.

Nevertheless, high-performing city governments recognise that new ideas and technologies create big opportunities to do things differently and generally make cities better places to live.

This tends to provoke three responses in the way that they work:

1. They make sure that very different areas of policy need to work in concert.

Good policy in one area can be undermined by bad policy in another. As a result, they tend to have teams, individuals or strategies in place who champion innovation across departmental silos.

2. They are open by default.

They recognise that the kind of knowledge and ideas needed to drive change are unlikely to reside entirely within city hall. As a result, they habitually find ways to work with outsiders in solving urban problems.

3. They employ styles of working that are more closely associated with start-ups than bureaucrats. 

They are happy to try things out and not afraid to fail. And they are increasingly delivering agile projects, prototyping, deploying user-led design and developing digital services. As a result, they are able to move quickly as the world changes around them.

To read more about the findings of the CITIE programme, read our reports published to date:

1. CITIE: A resource for city leadership

This report, pulished in June 2015, is an introduction to the CITIE framework (City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship), analysis and results for 2015. We researched how 40 leading cities from around the world are supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. We tested against a series of metrics that collectively answer three questions:

  • How open is the city to new ideas and new businesses?
  • How does the city optimise its infrastructure for high-growth businesses?
  • How does the city build innovation into its own activities?

Our analysis revolves around nine policy roles that city governments can adopt to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The roles are Regulator, Advocate, Customer, Host, Investor, Connector, Strategist, Digital Governor and Datavore.

2. CITIE: The Nordic Analysis

The CITIE Nordic Analysis, published in November 2015 adds Stockholm and Oslo to the 40 cities already assessed under the framework, and takes a detailed look at the policy environment that makes the Nordic region work so well for entrepreneurs. The report finds that Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo show “a consistently strong level of high performance” in developing and implementing the policies required to underpin a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

3. CITIE: The Northern Powerhouse Analysis

This report focuses on the performance, potential for innovation, and entrepreneurship in the context of devolution in the Northern Powerhouse region. Published in June 2016, it assesses the entrepreneurial ecosystem in six city and combined authority regions in the North of England.

4. CITIE: The Scotland Analysis

This report, written by Nesta and published in September 2016, focuses on the performance, potential for innovation, and entrepreneurship in the seven Scottish cities that form the Scottish Cities Alliance – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling.



David Altabev

David Altabev

David Altabev

Future Prizes - Senior Programme Manager

David worked in the Government Innovation team, part of Nesta's Innovation Lab leading on the development of the CITIE (City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship…

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