The City of Toronto has announced the creation of a Civic Innovation Office, which will work with City divisions and agencies to identify major challenges that can be solved through innovative partnerships with external teams.
External teams will work through 16-week stints to create solutions to challenges faced by Toronto residents, which can be procured by the city. The initiative is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies providing up to $500,000 in grants to Toronto as part of its Innovation Teams program. Toronto is the first Canadian city to receive money through the program.
“Toronto is home to a large population of innovators, startups, and tech companies who can help the City deliver better services to the public, while promoting a new approach to problem-solving within government,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “I look forward to working with Bloomberg Philanthropies, City divisions and our civic technology community to launch this exciting new Civic Innovation Office.”
The Office will work closely with Bloomberg Philanthropies, and actively collaborate with other Innovation Team grantee cities, including Anchorage, Alaska; Durham, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and Detroit, Michigan. Toronto’s Civic Innovation Office will be housed within the City Manager’s Office.
“Innovation Teams bring 21st-century problem-solving skills to City Hall,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The teams implement creative solutions by breaking down silos within city halls, engaging residents to jointly understand citizen needs and testing ideas before taking them to scale.”
The city is currently seeking an executive director, project manager, and design strategist to lead the Civic Innovation Office.
“Toronto is an emerging centre of innovation and technology and home to so much diverse talent,” said Councillor Michelle Holland. Holland was named advocate for the innovation economy in December 2016. “This is a city where people can have an impact and create new solutions, building their lives and their companies, while helping us build a great city.”