Bloomberg Offers A Cash-Fueled Challenge For Cities To Solve Major Problems

Cities might be best positioned to lead the way to solutions to global problems: Big enough to foster innovation, but nimble enough to implement it. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg thinks so: He’s devoting more than $9 million in prizes to the cities that can come up with the best ideas to improve the lives of their citizens.

It’s something we’ve said many times before on Co.Exist: At a time when the world’s urban population is exploding and national governments can’t seem to generate even the most minor positive changes, we need to look towards cities for innovation. The problem is, cities are often short on cash. And that means even the best ideas may never get implemented. . A competition from Bloomberg Philanthropies for U.S. cities to create solutions to major issues is making cash-flow a little less of a problem.

The challenge, which is open to all cities with over 30,000 people, asks city governments to come up with ideas that improve city government and the local population by addressing social and economic problems, improving customer service for businesses and residents, enhancing accountability to and engagement with the public, or make government work better, faster, and cheaper.

"Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources," said Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, in a statement. "Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward. The Mayors Challenge creates an opportunity for mayors to champion their boldest ideas—and to have them take root locally and perhaps spread nationally."

Indeed, New York City has adopted plenty of innovations from other cities, including the 311 information service and a new bike-sharing program—something that has already been implemented in cities worldwide.

While other sectors of government remain stagnant, cities continue to move forward. "The mayor believes that local leaders have a ground-up understanding of the issues Americans face. They’re already championing and fostering innovative solutions every day," says James Anderson, the leader of government innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Entrants have until September 14th to submit their ideas. Later this year, Bloomberg will select 20 finalists to attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp—a two-day gathering to help cities refine their projects. After that comes individualized coaching, and finally, the announcement of winners in spring of 2013.

The grand prize winner will take $5 million to develop its idea, and four other cities will scoop up $1 million prizes. There’s no telling what kinds of projects cities will come up with, but we’ll be watching San Francisco and Philadelphia—the first two major cities in the U.S. to hire chief innovation officers.

Add New Comment


  • Didi

    the concept is very interesting. who developed the website for the competition? Thanks

  • ducey

    he raised the cost of living and has not implemented no programs that would benefit the economy , all he done is gentrified neighborhood. cigarettes taxes annually for what to prevent the native americans from administering cheap cigars and cigarettes whole sale, in exchange created prohibition that lead to bootleg cigarettes ? more condominiums for his rich downtown buddies that are vacant. sending vagrants to south carolina, with a one way ticket. illegally profiling arabs and muslims. created more camera's profiling that goes against the 4th amendment, allow mta to manipulate the fare , when they received a 300 million surplus annually. alan havesi ,the city controller indicted for stealing money and financial fraud ( you the guy that planted as city controller). illegally administering the nypd, to cities way beyond their jurisdiction,which is illegal! let's talk about the city time scandal, where you planted time clocks that was perpetually stealing time hours from the workers. there haven't been any city raises in over 6 years for city employees...but allowed the assembly people to give themselves raises annually. wasted billions of dollars in creating bike lanes from lower manhattan to upper....abolish rent subsidized apartments, ruined neighborhood businesses with over the top rent prices , dissemble and crush news stands and vendors. let's not talk about the snow day scandal where 3 was left dead ,due to him focusing on the festivities on times square ! 600k illegal stop and frisk , fudge the numbers on police crimes , where you made the nypd no longer public servants but bureaucratic "yes men" in manipulating the stats and penalize the whistle blowers!for a self proclaimed nanny intellectual , you ruin the city mike. the only people that you help , is your autocratic policies and nepotism of cronies.

  • ducey

     he wasted damn near 40 billion dollars of tax payers money ...while making up to 23.7 billion ,the audacity of the slimball. he sends his money overseas every weekend,hush the scandal with the hedge funds with christine quinn in stealing money,went against the 99% for the 1% that he's apart off. ruin the city schools in privatizing them with more charter schools ,so that he can pocket the federal aid money that is giving for the teachers and try to abolish their unions. reduce the cops salaries to 25k and was force to raise it back to normal cause recruiting was down. done business ventures with george suros, who's the killer of the EU economy.want to banned citizens from carrying their 2nd amendments....all he done is made nyc resemble san francisco.

  • Shane Xian

    meanwhile detroit is tossing and turning with the idea of having a emergency financial manager..