Innovation in Cities: A prosperous route to a new model of urban living

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Innovation in Cities A prosperous route to a new model of urban living


THE STORYLINE PREAMBLE…………………………………………………………….………. 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY……………………………………………................ 4 INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………............ 6 1. WHY INNOVATION M ATTERS.…………………………………………... 7 Innovation matters more now than it ever has in the history of mankind • As we face unprecedented societal challenges • As we urbanise at alarming rates, cities offer a potentially vital ‘unit of change’

2. INNOVATION IN AN URBAN CONTEXT.............................................. 11 Innovation holds (too) many meanings, however it needs to be understood and acted upon in a consistent manner

3. A BLUEPRINT FOR ‘DRIVEN SYSTEMIC URBAN INNOVATION’………. 17 The four pillars that support an integrated approach to innovation for a city

4. CITIES INNOVATING…………………………………………………….. 22 5. THE VITAL ROLE THE PRIVATE SECTOR PLAYS………………………… 30 6. MOVING TO ACTION…………………………………………………... 31 7. CONCLUSIONS………………………………………………………….. 38

ANNEX……………………………………………………………………….. 39

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PREAMBLE Great ideas and the ability to resource and implement them are critical for us to resolve the multiple challenges the world increasingly throws at us. In a world that is increasingly urbanised, cities offer an ideal locus for change. Few would argue that innovation is not a vital ingredient for a city’s success. However how many can describe how it is managed for success; or hold their hand to their heart and say their city is excellent at it? How best then to stimulate the thinking and help cities take that journey? Let us explore that opportunity.

This white paper on “Driven Systemic Urban Innovation” takes a new view on a topic too often taken for granted. It is written primarily for cities to strengthen their understanding and resolve to take positive action on innovation as part of a purposeful structured roadmap. Key Audience: city politicians and professional leaders; cross-sector city leadership teams; policy officers; chief innovation officers; (inter)national city networks; government officials; senior staff in national and international ‘multiplier’ institutions … Purpose: The paper seeks to: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Increase understanding of the innovation agenda Inspire people to think differently Support dialogue amongst key city stakeholders Provide a practical framework to guide and operationalise actions

We offer a unique model that considers urban innovation in a holistic and a systemic manner. It recognises innovation as a multi-dimensional, multi-sector, and thematically focused topic that must be addressed at pan-city, regional and national levels. We bring the model to life through examples, and to action through its application.

Knowledge locked is knowledge lost. Innovation requires collaboration. It is about pulling ideas from the future. Knowledge should be shared, used, and improved. Its use is a complement to the originators. Feel free to use this and forward the conversation. Our request is that you recognise its source. Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Innovation is not just about ideas; it’s about making ideas come to life. That we face the stark reality of a mass of unprecedented global grand challenges is unarguable. How we will go about tackling them is the principal question. And the result will define life for ourselves, and our children. It is that profound a choice that we make, now. We must recognise that doing what we have done in the past will not deliver the necessary transformation in outcomes. We need innovation, across the board. What better place to do that than in cities. With population growth and demographic shifts, with continued urbanisation particularly in emerging economies, cities hold in their hands the opportunity to cause innovation to happen. Far faster, far better, and with far greater impact. Cities are close to society – a vital ingredient for successful innovation and adoption of innovative solutions. And of course, we are also blessed by what seems an endless stream of new technologies that offer us huge potential. It will involve both progressive change, and brand-new disruptive solutions. It will involve innovation in product, service, process, and mindset. Our target should be to deliver a prosperous route to a new model of urban living. Why cities? Because “City Hall” has the power to convene. To bring together the right actors and foster collaboration; to focus innovation on the city’s vision and needs; to modernise how things are done; to ensure fairness and inclusion in all that is delivered; to balance the need for public value with the desire for financial growth, and to network with fellow cities and rural counterparts to build capacity and scale impact. Cities have been hubs of innovation for eons. From Bristol’s ‘playable city’, Curitiba’s transport innovation, Chicago’s IoT Array, Cape Town’s administrative transformation, Copenhagen’s bicycles, Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting, Wuhan’s cleaner transport; to London, New York, Berlin, Barcelona or Tel Aviv’s approach to stimulating entrepreneurs, there are multiple examples to learn from. Although many cities are well practiced; too many are less so; and all can benefit from structured and networked learning. What will this take? The paper presents a framework that can help cities and their various stakeholders approach the task of wide-scale innovation in a managed way. It addresses four pillars that collectively can deliver driven system urban innovation. It prompts the important discussion on how you measure and evidence innovation. The work is informed with leading practice city examples to stimulate. It highlights the vital role that investors and businesses play to support innovation. And the framework itself is brought to life through recent case studies of its application. The opportunity is ours. The choice to embrace innovation and act is yours.

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“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation� Dean Kamen

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INTRODUCTION Innovation is a widely used term, so much so that it has rather lost its true meaning. It is however the vital lifeblood by which society manages to sustain itself in a productive and prosperous manner. •

As we face a burgeoning worldwide population and a growing cacophony of economic, societal, and environmental challenges ever-more present in our lives, it becomes increasingly important that we get good at innovation

Getting good at innovation happens first and foremost through people; a new mindset, perspective, habits, and behaviours

Given urbanisation trends, cities will play a more prominent role as a place where innovation happens – badly, well, or exceptionally; hopefully more the latter

All cities want to be seen to be innovative, and indeed many argue they already are. They may point to innovation hubs as evidence. Some step back and rely on the private sector, or ‘bottom-up’ impetus to cause innovation to happen. However, is that good enough? Others have clearly-formed plans.

Our research highlights the important role that ‘City Hall’ can play to ensure that innovation steps up a gear in terms of pace and impact. It highlights the need to address the topic with more of a systemic approach, and seek to drive the agenda forward with purpose, persistence and determination. There is limited guidance available to inform how to do this. What does exist is a patchwork of (albeit perhaps good) material, however with a limited overall coherent story. This is not good enough to take us forward with confidence into what is clearly a fast-changing and very uncertain future. Thus, the birth of this “Driven Systemic Urban Innovation” blueprint that frames the topic and aims to understand how cities can better stimulate and encourage innovation, systemically, to deliver better outcomes for their economy and their communities. This paper seeks to inspire and offer a new view into urban innovation too often taken for granted. It is written primarily for cities; those that wish to explore opportunities to shape a prosperous route towards … … a new and better model for urban living.

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1. W


Innovation matters more now than it ever has in the history of mankind… As we face unprecedented societal challenges… Population growth is putting intense strain on all global systems. In essence, we live well beyond our means; or at least half do – the other half suffer the consequences of less. And that gap can no longer be neglected, as it affects us all. As human numbers increase1, notably in fast-developing regions, the expectations of those people to emulate the ways of living of the developed world become more and more implausible. The expectations of developed countries are not likely to diminish. This questions the very core of what it means to be human; what responsibilities that brings for self and for society.

Figure 1 Population Growth Forecast (source: United Nations 20141)

Figure 1 provokes profound thoughts. A population that is anticipated to triple in one lifetime, concentrated in developing countries, and in urban areas. It is the first time in history that we face such profound societal dynamics. What are the implications? Is it not for us right now to act wisely and with determination to secure a brighter future for our offspring?


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“An innovation will get traction only if it helps people get something that they're already doing in their lives done better.” Clayton M. Christensen

Overcrowded Beaches

Packed Public Transport

Informal Settlements

Overcrowded Public Space

The implications of our current lifestyle become more evident daily. Limited space, noise, toxic soils, urban heat, resource depletion, price rises, public transit saturation, affordability issues, societal unrest, housing shortages, political and climate migration, flora and fauna reduction, soil denudation, abundant pollution, isolation of a burgeoning aging population and growing unhappiness, all paint a picture of a reality that suggests a failure of our global system. And these world ills will increase at an alarming rate if no serious actions are taken – now. A gloomy outlook perhaps, and our human reactions are often to close off and enjoy our present lot; yet these realities only mount up. Governments’ cannot solve this on their own; industries’ primary motive is not ‘for public good’, so are unlikely to be a first-mover. However, cities, where people live, could lead the way and embrace a lifetime opportunity to build a sustainable living for all.

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We are entering into a cities landscape that is fast changing – worldwide. Contrast the two views presented in figure 2.

Dramatic growth and redistribution of urban populations are already occurring

Figure 2: Top 20 Cities in 2010 and 21003


Cities in the 21st Century. Environment and Urbanization, 2016.

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As we urbanise at alarming rates, cities offer a potentially vital ‘unit of change’ Cities can be nimble and agile; they are where people are, and people are the cause of the challenges we face and also the vital source of the transformation that is much needed. Cities can play an increasingly important role compared with nation states, given their closeness to people, their more manageable scale, their ‘convening’ role, and their (theoretical) agility to act. "Cities are open, plural and cosmopolitan while nation states are closed, nativist and parochial" claim the World Economic Forum.4 However, cities can only have a marked impact if they connect and collaborate in a way that they have never done before, as they cannot transform effectively and fast enough if they operate as isolated islands. This means cities must build capacity for transformative change – and quickly! If the challenges are so profound, and cities offer a venue for resolution, how can we accelerate this process? How can we define and fully understand what it is?

“Taking bold action on climate change simply makes good business sense. It's also the right thing to do for people and the planet. Setting a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity, and secure a better world for what will soon be 95 billion people.” Richard Branson



A forecast that is now more than 10 billion

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2. I


“Innovation as a discipline needs to go back and get rethought and revived. There are so many models to talk about innovation, there are so many typologies of innovation” Indra Nooyi Our understanding of the term ‘innovation’ Innovation is a means to invent new paradigms; to create disruptive transformation and also to deliver rapid evolutionary change. The term is too loosely used, yet our understanding of it is now so vital. When the term is used, the intention may be sound, however the outcomes are rarely true innovation. Statistically, innovation should deliver a fair proportion of failures. However, failures are rarely applauded, and so are frequently hidden. We must get good at innovation; awfully good. It offers us a way to deliver a better future and to overcome challenges that could arrive somewhat faster than we might expect or would desire. We have adapted the useful definition for innovation offered in the business dictionary6 to an urban context: “The process of translating an idea or invention into physical infrastructure, service or outcome that creates value for city stakeholders and society at large. Innovation involves a deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful outcomes. It includes… Evolutionary innovations (continuous or dynamic evolutionary innovation) that are brought about by many incremental advances in technology or processes, and… Revolutionary innovations (also called discontinuous innovations) which are often disruptive, new, and transformative. Innovation is synonymous with risk-taking and cities that create revolutionary outcomes take on the greatest risk because they create new markets” This definition, though somewhat lengthy, draws out some important features: that innovation is a process; that at its heart is value for different stakeholders; that it includes both evolution and revolution; and that it involves risk. In a city context, innovation is much more nuanced than in the commercial sector.


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The crucial role cities play to stimulate innovation Six characteristics are discussed that make innovation in an urban context distinct: 1. The core purpose of a city sets a different and particular focus for innovation Businesses exist to service shareholder needs, and these operate with shorter time horizons and are predominantly financially motivated. There is a growing trend towards ‘profit with purpose’ which provides a useful counterbalance to pure financial motives, however innovation in the business world is still coloured by money. Cities exist for a more complex purpose. And here, we consider a broad and inclusive understanding of what we mean by ‘city’, and do not seek to make distinctions between city types, nor overly focus on the border between urban and rural – innovations are needed across this perceived ’divide’. We posit three reasons why cities exist7: • • •

to develop a city-wide ‘brand’ to support a competitive and attractive place, to deliver a high quality of life for all its communities to sustain economic prosperity

Innovation in cities therefore can be motivated by any mixture of these, and they extend far wider than just financial motives. 2. The ‘convening’ role of cities to stimulate multi-sector innovation is key Given its broader purpose, a city must naturally consider the ecosystem of actors that need to be brought together to address innovation. What becomes evident very quickly is the challenge of stimulating effective collaboration amongst all actors, to ensure the ‘quadruple helix’ (figure 3) functions most effectively. This offers a vitally important ‘convening’ role for city hall to play to ensure the dialogue on innovation is informed by the best minds and moderated to deliver appropriate outcomes. It is this ability of a city to play a range of roles – facilitator, regulator, funder, service provider, partner, advocate – that is instrumental in a city’s success on innovation. The role of convener can stimulate new methods of collaboration, alliance creation, and joint venturing that can increase a city’s purchasing power – i.e. create a potentially attractive market. A market that local entrepreneurs can benefit from, and trusted local academics can support. As cities tackle complex opportunities like circular economy this convening role can be defining.

Figure 3: A “quadruple helix” opportunity

7 These three reasons are broadly in line with the six purposes captured in ISO 37101 ‘Sustainable Communities’

(Attractiveness; Preservation and improvement of the environment; Responsible resource use; Resilience; Social cohesion; Well-being), which are also informed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Social innovation is taking on a far more prominent role as we increasingly recognise that the challenges we face cannot be addressed without the active participation of society. A hallmark of innovation excellence is the ability of a city to deeply understand, actively listen to, and effectively involve society. Successful transformative innovations will always require step-change in people’s habits and behaviours. And that requires trust between city and society. This poses the question of whether cities have all the tools in place to listen to and engage with their communities at a scale and in a sufficiently structured manner to come up with innovative new ways for tackling challenges. For some, the mindset is still more that of stemming the flow of grumbles from the crowd. And of course, not unimportantly from a societal standpoint, mother nature plays its role in making places attractive to clever people, that may be perceived to be more predisposed to stimulate innovation. There is of course a counter argument to that, which is that stressed or inadequate conditions drive need, and as we know ‘need is the mother of invention’. Curitiba’s transformation to their public transport system; or how some cities in the developing world manage shanti towns / favela, provide welldocumented examples. However, with a growing number of concerning challenges ahead of us8 should we really leave it to downside pressures to drive innovation? 3. Process Innovation holds higher potential in an urban context The conditions within which an innovation is successful are significantly influenced by public policy and regulation. Cities use policy as a key instrument for progress. However public policy is traditionally a slow moving and top-down process. Societal awareness and expectations, and the need for societal involvement in the success of a policy, puts a great deal more pressure on traditional policy processes. Combine that with the power of digitisation, which enables society to engage in so many new and different ways, and importantly also exhibits technology development cycles that are often faster than the cycles of policy itself. Without agile policy a city can inhibit the success of innovation. Grand scale national level policy change can result in unnecessary risk taking. Cities on the other hand are increasingly seen to be stimulating local and manageable risk-taking by setting up PolicyLabs or creating ‘regulation free zones’ (at least in spirit) that provide sandboxes for experimentation. This may be to support innovation in for instance the adoption of connected and automated driving, or new energy management practices. Process innovation within public administration also holds enormous potential, and in many geographies this has become too cumbersome. It can result in cheaper, better, and faster city services – all good things for brand, quality of life and economy. Taking circular economy opportunities as an example, much of the new forms of value occur through connecting different players in different ways – i.e. process change. Clearly digitisation offers transformative potential in this regard.

“Regulation needs to catch up with innovation” Henry Paulson 8

A harvest of some recent concerning articles is included in References

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4. Public Value must be fully understood to steer innovation appropriately The concept of public value is considerably more complex than that of financial. Cities must wrestle with balance, compromise, and uncertainty in assessing and delivering public value from their actions. This is necessarily hard, and not helped when amplified by disgruntled voters and the press. Cities must balance on one hand their obligations to provide or duties to instruct and ensure compliance, with on the other hand their desires to coach and cajole behaviour change. Not all sectors, communities, or individuals will be aligned in terms of how they see a proposed change, and it is often for city leaders to help find a common path that most will follow. This requires determining the social acceptance, or not, of what can be seen as either the ‘heavy hand of government’ or genuine leadership towards better longer-term outcomes. And in making choices, in seeking compromise, value in all its forms (economic, social, and environmental) rarely all works in harmony. So often one counters the other; and if not then the relative benefits are delivered over different time horizons. Think about innovations that improve air quality which improve long-term health (itself influenced by so many other choices and factors). This complexity of public value is very real. And it is that much more important that we learn how to address it appropriately within public institutions, and within public itself, as we tackle the vast array of innovation opportunities we are presented with. 5. Replicability and collective scale matter To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and satisfy a specific need. Replicability in a city context is highly relevant, and too often forgotten. Cities are unique, and as such they often behave individualistically. However, systemically they share a common DNA and embrace many similar goals. There is thus clear potential to maximise public value through collaborating. Where industry competes, cities should be competitive, however should more actively seek opportunities to collaborate. Replicability (sequenced activities) is helpful; scale (demand aggregation) can be that much more impactful. Through collaboration, particularly between cities, they can create attractive markets, they can learn faster, and they can serve a common greater good, at greater scale. As cities grow, their economy disproportionately grows – scale is good; it brings added advantages, as is argued by Geoffrey West9. People, ideas, assets, money are all intermixed, and benefits emerge. And as a result, innovations increase. Big cities are typically flush with universities, and a host of academics that can stimulate new thinking, and also support collaboration with businesses10. Larger cities have reaped the rewards from scale. Businesses are typically attracted to larger cities with their often-appealing brands, as nice places to go and live, with vibrant economies.

G. West: “Scale: the universal laws of growth, innovation, sustainability, and the pace of life in organisms, cities, economies, and companies”. (2017); & (2007) Luis Bettencourt, G. West et al (data: 20-30% increase of inventors, patents, R&D jobs) 10 The professor and the manager: two unique worlds collaborating to accelerate innovation: 9

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Although there are some staggering projections for growth of larger cities to scales presently rather unimaginable, most people do not live in the big cities; they live in the smaller ones. We neglect the smaller cities at our peril! How can they best attract and retain the entrepreneurs and businesses that will help fund and stimulate innovations? They may not have the institutional or academic capacity. They may not have the social willpower. Some do of course, and we consider these “Small Giants” – small in size, giant in ambitions. Many smaller cities outperform their bigger counterparts because a small city is generally easier to manage and can be more agile and flexible in terms of decision-making. Peterborough, a modest-sized UK city of 195,000 population, leads the European Small Giants initiative11 that seeks to stimulate collaboration amongst these agile active cities that are predisposed to collaborate – and keen to innovate across a portfolio of themes (including circular city 12). Smaller cities have a growing and poignant need to build innovation capacity, lest they fall behind, and unintendedly we create a two-speed city landscape. Steps are necessary to ensure that all cities benefit from innovations collectively. There is much vital learning on innovation of process, service and outcomes that can be structured, captured and disseminated swiftly to build broader innovation capacity amongst cities of all sizes. 6. Cross-tier alignment provides the foundations for success The jurisdiction within which a city sits brings with it major, and typically longer term, determinants to the success or not of the city’s innovation performance: the political, regulatory, and policy landscape; fiscal measures that influence the (new) economy; the education system; RD&I/STI13 programmes, collaborative mindset, and the like. National and regional governments can thus play a major role in supporting the success, or not, of innovation within their markets. One good way is through money. Public expenditure represents a very substantial and influential lever in the market. Innovation is generally best targeted at areas that will deliver the best value from investment, particularly in a world with increasing pressure on public sector budgets. For example, in the European context, overall public expenditure represents 46% of GDP; larger though not dissimilar to most regions worldwide. Governments, and cities, can surely apply focus in such areas and this would have a significant impact if innovations resulted. Regional and national industrial strategies can help steer the focus and deployment of Research and Development (R&D) funds in a more productive manner to ensure that innovation is stimulated in the areas intended. The overall R&D expenditure in Europe is just shy of 2.5% of GDP, varying significantly across the Member States; as it will in most countries worldwide. However, this expenditure can play an important role in stimulating innovation. Cities can align their business and academic ecosystem to the appropriate priorities, stimulate with competitions, grant funds, and other forms of support. The trick at reginal and national levels is in aligning support in a manner that EIP-SCC ‘Small Giants’ initiative Opportunity Peterborough, Circular City Programme, website 13 RD&I/STI = research development and innovation / science technology and innovation 11 12

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is considered fair and inclusive amongst a wide portfolio of urban-rural actors – a delicate balancing act. The setting of regional or national priorities, and alignment of strategies, can help give certainty to cities as to where to focus attention for the plethora of new technologies and techniques that appear on the horizon; be they artificial intelligence, robotics, bioscience, renewables, or a range of other emerging technologies. We are presented with many examples of innovative cities that exist in regions and nations that are benchmarked to be innovative. Although such examples may be appealing, the important question is whether the ingredients that underpin their success are captured in a structured way that can help others learn and benefit from their success? Regional and national administrations can play an instrumental role in supporting overall innovation capacity development.

“Government should create the environment and incentives to stimulate investment in sustainable innovation, take away barriers, and accelerate adoption, even in turbulent economic times.” Frans van Houten

Transitioning to a new future for urban innovation It is clear that innovation in an urban context is complex, yet harnessed right it holds considerable potential. Table 1 summarises and contrasts the current picture of urban innovation, and a brighter future. Our choice is to make this brighter future so. Table 1: Thoughts on a brighter future for urban innovation

The current state of Urban Innovation…

A better way…

Framework Conditions • No common understanding of innovation • Misalignment across administrative tiers • Cumbersome regulatory processes • Reaction to emerging technologies

• • • •

Clear strategy, focus, & priorities Agile regulation & policy making Established ‘horizon scanning’ function Networked with international experts

Enabling the Innovation ecosystem locally • Lack of understanding of demand & the potential of society • Misalignment in focus and priorities leading to inefficiencies • Fragmentation of services and providers

• • • • •

Knowing market needs and servicing them ‘City Hall’ convening the ‘quadruple helix’ Agility (sense, test, & respond) Coherent mixed-delivery digital offer Identify synergies & aggregate demand

Innovation in Action • Lacklustre poorly resourced innovation labs • Under-investment in innovation assets • Limited collaboration amongst and across actors and lost opportunity as a result Sustaining Value • Inconsistent investment for ‘pet ideas’ • No clear goals; fragmented governance • Individualistic city / sector behaviours

• Networked innovation centres • Connecting place, process, and people effectively to inspire • Knowing when ‘City-Hall’ should intervene • Re-use of captured tools and knowledge • • • •

Demonstrable impact from investments Driven sustained leadership commitment Effective business models Support and funding from investors

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3. A B




Our research posed the questions of: “what are the ingredients for excellent urban innovation?” “where are the examples to learn from?” and “how can one go about making improvements?” Our assumption is that, to date, insufficient cities have been present to the need to manage innovation in a deterministic and holistic manner; or have not had the tools to do so. Also, that several big cities have ridden the waves of circumstance and benefited from generally good actions and a good environment. And, that many smaller or underperforming cities have found reason to point to (national) constraints or not-so-distant competitor cities that have curtailed their performance. In addition, some cities have viewed innovation as a bottom-up organic process that must be set free and not controlled, and that will naturally lead to success. Though not untrue, it does not mean that some things cannot be managed. Too often such views are an excuse for abdication of the responsibility to do something purposeful (recognising that justifying budget to so will often be a hurdle). Our view is that no city should take such a position; that all should address the topic with some clear purpose and fresh mindedness. And that those that are genuinely doing excellently capture why and how, record the resulting benefits, and share the learning with others. There is not that much written on urban innovation, certainly not in a form that guides strategy, or becomes easily actionable. We seek to bridge that gap, through developing a blueprint that has a specific title: ‘Driver Systemic Urban Innovation’ •

Why “Driven” – because of the need to move from a general political and managerial intent to something that is more deterministic and hard-wired into how the city tackles the topic – i.e. based on a clear and fully supported purpose, towards set and agreed goals

Why “Systemic” – to seek to build an approach to innovation that is resilient and will sustain; that will naturally grow as people engage in it; requiring that it is easily understood by people and can be influenced, and managed to deliver success. Also recognising the interconnected nature of cities

Why “Urban” – given burgeoning urbanisation, it makes a great deal of sense to focus attention on the city as a unit of transformation

Why “Innovation” – to put a genuine and bold understanding of the term in place, to replace what is loosely used in multiple settings with many different interpretations and ensure it falls under a common and owned meaning

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The resulting blueprint comprises four inter-dependent pillars, and 19 components in total as shown in figure 4:

Figure 4: A Blueprint for ‘Driven Systemic Urban Innovation’ (DSUI)

1. Framework Conditions involves working across administrative tiers to ensure the cities market is best supported by suitable policy, legislation, fiscal, research, brand conditions. Cities look to Government in most parts for overall accountability in this area. 2. Network Enablement benefits from a ‘City Hall’-convened set of operational tasks and services typically provisioned in a mixed-economy model, and importantly revolves around enrolling multiple stakeholders. 3. Innovation in Action is where innovation happens in practice; the vital choreography of place, process and people. This is a core set of very practical activities involving public, private, investor, academic and community. 4. Sustaining Value ensures targets are set and monitored; and the city responds with agility to market changes and opportunities. It is about attracting resource and finance to stimulate, from inception to scale-up. It is vital. Success involves the interlacing of these as one coherent picture, across a wide variety of actors with a wide variety of motives and competencies. Just the sheer scale of number of actors tends to make the management of this something that presently resembles the Curate’s Egg15 in most cities. That is however what will help drive improvements across the cities landscape. The Blueprint helps a city assess, align, connect, plan, manage, and monitor the performance of its innovation ‘DNA’ 15

Curate’s Egg: meaning “good in parts”

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How we define, measure, and improve urban innovation Our research explored more than 40 international indexes that address innovation. The pattern of the indexes alone clearly shows that there are very few that focus on urban innovation. There is also a very wide variance in terms of what is considered to constitute ‘innovation’. This is powerfully shown in figure 5 which visualises the categorisation of key terms from the dozen or so indexes that were considered most relevant.

Figure 5: Visualisation of the terms that various Indexes consider comprise Urban Innovation

What is evident is that without clarity of definition of urban innovation cities are not supported by guidance that can lead to quality comparison and learning. Furthermore, the measurement of performance of urban innovation is riddled with inconsistency of indicators. Of the subset of indexes we analysed more than 500 indicators, and particularly looking to what point in the spectrum they sought to measure: was the measure looking at ‘inputs’ (e.g. R&D funds, availability of specific infrastructures), ‘process’ measures, ‘output’ (e.g. number of start-ups), ‘outcome’ (knowledge creation), or ‘impact’ (e.g. life satisfaction) measurement. The vast majority (65%) focused on inputs, and only 2% addressed outcomes or impact. Yet cities need to be able to evidence public value outcomes. We are, arguably, measuring the wrong things. The opportunity now is to develop a better set of indicators that span input to impact, and map them to a more consistent and recognised urban innovation framework. This would provide a basis to inform cities’ innovation plans, and support comparison over time and with other cities.

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Which cities do well, and what can we learn from their actions? Two large and leading cities emerge atop most urban innovation indexes: London and New York City. These are recognised worldwide to be homes of innovation, and also are blessed by national framework conditions that are considered to be highly conducive to innovation. Both countries and both cities are seen to be best-in-class in the various benchmark indices16 (a selection of which are shown in figure 6). Both cities offer a number of good practice examples, not just because of their size, though enabled by it; more because of their actions.

Figure 6: Indices that point to leading innovative cities

London and New York show clear leadership on the innovation agenda. Yet, still, with opportunities to improve in the face of mounting needs, and mounting competition. These two innovation behemoths have the scale that results in multiple parties getting involved throughout the innovation process from idea to adoption. Not all roles for innovation may be fully ascribed, however because of the sheer scale of activities there is little obvious loss; any efficiencies are far from apparent. Their smaller counterparts on the other hand may not have that luxury (or complexity). Of the dozen cities selected and studied many hold nuggets of excellence or intriguing approaches across some elements of the blueprint. Other cities are shown in figure 7.


A fuller list of relevant indices is included in the References/Bibliography.

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Figure 7: A selection of city-specific innovation nuggets of excellence

Our research highlights that cities large and small have a lot to offer in terms of learning on urban innovation. The blueprint enables these city stories to be captured in a structure way, to ensure that other cities can benefit. This will help cities assess, learn, plan, progress and advance their urban innovation programme and prepare the ground to face their challenges, and embrace new opportunities. Some of these cities seek to sustain their position at the forefront of innovation, be proactive, push for breakthrough and disruptive ideas, and put the wherewithal in place to translate innovative ideas to solutions on the ground. Others take a more modest approach. That positioning is an important choice that a city makes.

Examples of best practice the subsequent section offers a brief excerpt from our research for these cities to stimulate thinking and bring to life some of the interventions that these cities have implemented across the various different components of the blueprint. These have been assessed using ‘traffic light’ indicators (green/amber/red) to highlight best practices and areas for improvement (although the latter are not included herein).

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4. C


We offer a brief excerpt for the cities researched to stimulate thinking and bring to life some of the interventions that these cities have implemented across the various different components of the blueprint. These have been assessed using the ‘traffic lights’ (green/amber/red) indicators to highlight best practices and areas for improvement (the latter not included herein).

LONDON’S INNOVATION PORTRAIT Brand story: an international and multicultural city attracting worldwide talent; 200 different countries are represented and more 60% of Londoners are not native English. London is considered by many institutions as the inspirational leader in many agendas and one of them is Innovation. Several worldwide indices17 (figure 8) and other national and European indices, such as the UK Smart CIites Index18 and the European Digital Cities index19 view London as a catalyst for the innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem. According to the Start-Up Britain Foundation, London was home of more than 200,000 start ups in 201620 and this figure keeps growing. This is one frequently used indicator of a vibrant innovation ecosystem.

Figure 8 London tops the Indices What is it that London does in relation to the blueprint? JLL. (2015). Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities. Link Huawei & Navigant, UK Smart Cities Index 2017, Assessment of Strategy & Execution for UK’s Leading Smart Cities link 19 European Commission. (2016). European Digital City Index. Link 20 Start-up Britain, UK start-up Tracker Website 17 18

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Regarding framework conditions, London is well established. Despite Brexit uncertainties which disrupt the national framework conditions, London remains a solid innovation ‘muscle’ for the country. It is the home to multiple leading academic institutions like the London School of Economics, Imperial College, and other world-renowned universities which continue to attract the best talents. London also has an active engagement internationally within various city networks.

In terms of city-wide enablement, London is probably the most active city in this area, with several organisations in place to enable and engage citizens, businesses, academics and local authorities in a collective manner. A good example of that is the Open Workspaces Platform21 that the Greater London Authority developed, providing city-wide information on workspace, lab and incubator locations to support startups, providing a summary of available facilities, services, and pricing. A clear commitment to support business growth. The breadth and depth of services available in London to support start-ups enables entrepreneurs to focus on innovation rather than do battle finding support services.

Figure 9: London’s Open Workspaces Platform


Greater London Authority, “London Workspaces” Interactive database Website

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On Innovation In Actions, London has a large number of innovation hubs where Start-ups come together to collectively nurture innovations. A good example is Second Home, a place where nature acts as a catalyst for creative sanctuary and innovation. This coworking space is festooned with trees and plants which inspire entreprenerus with new ideas. The idea of Second Home is also based on a redevelopment area with cheap furniture and clearance materials which makes the place very affordable for young entrepreneurs.

Second Home Lab in London

In sustaining value, London, given its global financial muscle, has many funding channels to support innovative ideas and businesses. Funding London for example provides funding to early stage businesses, to support opportunities for sustainable growth. This is co-funded by the Mayor’s Office, which enables priority to be put to ideas that may bring longer-term strategic or public good outcomes. Despite its governance complexities, London continues to be a city that captures value from innovation.

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NEW YORK’S INNOVATION PORTRAIT Brand story: Digital City with a strong focus in tech and digital sectors attracting worldwide talent New York and London vie for top spot on the world cities indices. The city holds true to the adage ‘the American Dream’ where everything is considered possible for anyone with a strong self-starter mindset and a risk-taking attitude. This makes New York a compelling place for Innovation. Today, The New York’s entrepreneur ecosystem is worth $71 billion 22 and this market is heavily biased towards the tech industry sectors.

Regarding framework conditions, the overall result for New York is strong. The city has retained its brand and world leading status for decades. It benefits from a liberal and business-minded regulatory system, heterogeneous culture, and considerable big business and financial muscle. Irrespective of national context, New York keeps delivering on innovation, notably in the tech sectors that always keep an eye on the next disruptions. The city was awarded the best Smart City in 2016 by the World Smart City Congress. New York is deeply engaged internationally. The ex-Mayor chairs the committee of the C40 Cities.

In terms of city wide enablement, New York is very successful more specifically in digital enablement. There is a strong supportive focus on open data. CheckBookNYC23 is a good example of how New York delivers transparency to its communities. Its online tool enables anyone to track day-today spending in the public domain. The city has developed strong and effective connections with the business community. It continues to exploit its digital leadership to engage society, providing the likes of ideation approaches and participative budgeting. Comparatively, community and academic engagement offers scope for betterment.

22 23

NYECD, (2018), Global Start-up Ecosystem Report: NYC Home to Over 7,000 Startups, $71B Ecosystem link New York City Comptroller, CheckBook NYC, (financial transparency) interactive website

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On Innovation in Actions, New York has an extensive portfolio of facilities, labs, and incubators that help start-ups to design the new ideas of tomorrow. A good example is NEWLAB, a place focusing on advanced technology such as AI, Robotics, Urban Tech, Nanotech, Connected D, Energy, Additive Tech, Life Science, BIM. The lab also offers various services from financial solutions to partnership support. Others include UrbanTechNYC, Urban Future Lab, B., and UrbanX.

As regards sustaining value, along the same lines as London, New York’s strength in business models and financing results in a wealth of progressive investors and investment channels to support the city. This includes a number of public- led funds focused on public good outcomes, including a Mayor’s fund. NYCSEED is one of them, providing funding and grants to small businesses. New York has an advantage with a long-established Mayoral system and significant city-wide power and budget. Plus a very strong and imaginative financial community.

“Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity” Michael Porter Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


OTHER CITY-SPECIFIC CASES MILAN EXPO 2015: INNOVATION STIMULUS Decades ago there were bumper stickers that said “NY-London-Paris-Milan”. Then things changed, and Milan’s fortunes waned. The world’s fashion and design capital is now very clearly on the rebound! Milan is also know of the economic hub of the country and the international cluster of the region has recently undertaken profound changes that put Milan on an international stage. The EXPO 2015 hosted by Milan stimulated the city to undertake massive infrastructure changes to prepare the ground for this world fair. The city launched several infrastructure projects: Vertical Forest, a sustainable residential building with more than 13,000 trees and plants. CityLife, a sustainable residential and commercial district with a car free area and a community vegetable garden. The reopening of the Navigli the canal system of Milan has stimulated a similar intention in several other districts. Armani/silos, a living, open-to-the-public space illustrating Giorgio Armani’s professional experience: a space in which to design the future, a showcase of new attitudes and lifestyles that capture changing times and cultures. This space was created when the EXPO was launched. Fondazione Prada, a coexistence of new and regenerated buildings of futurist design. The EXPO Site as an official testbed for new technologies such as Siemens Smart Grid and IoT. The EXPO coerced the municipality into strengthening its mobility system by expanding biking and car club schemes for tourists. All supported a step-change in action in the city. A great story, from which Milan continues to advance in progressive areas like circular economy, as one of the core cities of innovation in Europe. EXPO is a universal exhibition designed to showcase achievements of nations. In 2015, it was hosted by Milan and the theme was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", encompassing technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity; and how they relate to food and diet. The ‘Bosco verticale’ is a green skyscraper with more than 13 000 plants and 700 trees of 90 different species, designed by Stefano Boeri agency for a cost of 2 billion euros. The vegetation habitat provides incredible benefits in terms of dust absorption, air quality, temperature mitigation, humidity mitigation and evapotranspiration. The vertical forest is an exemplar of urban innovations integrating genius irrigation and structure systems to enable the life of natural environment on a vertical infrastructure. One project stimulated by the EXPO (Giacomello, 2015). Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |



Detroit 10 years ago

The city of Detroit is another great story that used innovation to transform its urban environment. The industrial city went bankrupt in 2013 with an estimated debt of $18-20 billion. Due to a lack of liquidity, the city tried a more radical method to revitalize its neglected areas where normal development rules don’t apply. The city embraced an affordable and fast timeconsuming re-zoning process where a handful of zones were freed from ‘red tape’ to allow small developers and entrepreneurs to open new businesses and revive aging strips. The aim was to ease some project constraints like minimum parking requirement. Young entrepreneurs started coming to the city by using cheap housing and space to launch new ventures and revitalise the city. Without bankruptcy, this redtape-busting pilot would not have been possible. This idea can serve as a model for any city with a similar context to spur their redevelopment.

TEL AVIV: THE “NON-STOP CITY” Tel Aviv-Yafo is known as Israel's "Nonstop City". The vibrant atmosphere never stops; the nightlife and culinary scene never stop; culture never stops; 24 hours a day. Tel Aviv is an active metropolis, bursting with energy, creativity and innovation. Tel Aviv is hosting a growing entrepreneurial community. Israel’s start-ups raised more than 5 billion in 2017, more than 70% of them were located in the capital.24 Tel Aviv was awarded the best Smart City at the 2014 Smart City Expo Congress25 with a variety of tools to improve engagement and enhance interactions within the city. The city stands today as an example for start-up ecosystem innovation with nonstop support and community engagement to improve the city. There has been considerable public investment in start- up incubators and (on-line) services, as a complement to the lifestyle actions. Tel Aviv is now an impressive performer on innovation and start-up metrics, and feedback from the start-up community indicates a clear appreciation of the city’s actions.

24 25

Israeli start-ups raised more than $5 billion in 2017 Link Tel Aviv Smart City – Non-Stop City Link

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PETERBOROUGH: A ‘SMALL GIANT’ Peterborough, a small city in the east of England, is a good example where small is beautiful. The city leads the European Small Giants initiative, small in size but giant in ambitions. The city has taken several initiatives to support innovation: • Opportunity Peterborough26: a public-owned urban regeneration company attracting inward investment, engaging with local players to support growth and development, delivering a range of projects to boost the local economy • Circular City27: The Circular Peterborough programme aims to apply circular economy principles at the city level. The programme seeks to make the most of the resources locally, supporting economic resilience, developing strong communities and increasing environmental sustainability. • Digital Innovation28: A city-wide ambition to improve public data transparency. DataShare is a platform offering public information making access and analysis of data easier for everyone, developed collaboratively with a London Borough. Urban Observatory is an interactive platform allowing users to compare city-oriented maps both within and with other cities on various topics; with a goal to make city data understandable and useful.

FRANCE: “RULES, WHAT RULES!?” The 6-Nations Smart Cities Forum29 was established as a pragmatic initiative within the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities to bring together those largest and/or leading European Member States on smart cities to capture experience and build a blueprint30 on how to set up their markets for success. A wide variety of ideas and best practices emerged, however one notion popped up which was that of creating ‘regulation free zones’ in cities – perhaps meant more in spirit than in fact. The response to the idea highlighted the delightful breadth of EU cultural stereotypes: the Germanic response was to refute such a thing could happen; the British to consider the process to come up with a design, the Spaniards to listen learn and pick the best bits (subsequently to flex their own framework conditions to maximise market impact); the French went quiet – only to re-emerge some while later with a pragmatic model to help liberate their core network of cities from bureaucratic burden – a nominated ‘phone a friend in central government’ to help inform the best interpretation of the rules. Zut alors! The 6-Nations Blueprint offers potential to establish suitable framework conditions to enable a fluid cities market in these countries; with a specific objective to capture learning, build tools, and disseminate these across Europe, and beyond.

Opportunity Peterborough, City Economic Development Agency, website Opportunity Peterborough, Circular City Programme, website 28 Opportunity Peterborough, Digital Innovation, website 29 EIP-SCC, 6-Nations Smart Cities Forum Initiative website 30 6-Nations Smart City Forum Blueprint, 2015, link 26 27

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5. T


Although our focus is primarily on what ‘City Hall’ can do to convene its market on innovation, it would be remiss to neglect some of the game-changing initiatives that the private sector – both big and small – have underway on urban innovation. A city that can demonstrate a structured, joined up, driven, holistic approach to innovation will present itself in its best light to private sector suitors; be that as a target for testing and proving innovative ideas, an ideal location for entrepreneurs, or an ideal location to attract ‘corporate HQs’ – all of which can bring ideas, jobs and growth. And retain them. The start-up and scale-up communities are vital ingredients to the innovation success of a city. And all cities are acutely aware of their importance. They represent by far the largest number of companies; and a significant proportion of the jobs. Collectively important. Individually, at times underserved and at risk. Statistics show the numbers of start-ups and closures in many cities is both significant and similar in number. So, reducing the churn, helping start-ups ‘fail fast’ and those that are genuinely deserving to blossom and scale-up is a never-ending goal. A city should determine if and what it can do to provide 'back office’ and support services so that SMEs can focus on their core business; to help SMEs navigate through an often-complex administrative landscape. And to assess where the city can bring together these actors and manage their ‘flow’ within and across the city geographically and within their value chain or network so that innovation performance is maximised. These are all important matters for city innovation boards to address. Relationships with big businesses and investors also form an important part of a city’s innovation landscape – as potential sources of innovation, and sources of funds. There is too often finger-pointing or frostiness in relationships between these parties. It is vital is to ensure that these relationships are effective and founded on shared and communicated principles to ensure that no poor compromises emerge. These leadership principles should translate into action plans at operational level. Mixing big business and SMEs proves challenging the world over, however, to stimulate and support innovation that mix is vital. The building of value networks, and the formation of a genuinely effective ecosystem with fair incentives is an important goal. With the considerable scale of public sector investment, and with the motive from within the public sector to deliver public good outcomes, ‘city hall’ can play an important influential role through their procurements and market shaping activities to ensure both large (international) businesses and local SMEs are conditioned to fairly collaborate for greater good. There are multiple well-publicised examples of investment by big industry in cities. With the growing recognition that cities can provide a good ‘unit of change’ to test and prove innovations across the multiplicity of city infrastructures and services, fashioning the right environment and managing the right conversations is fundamental. There are many opinions on this topic. What is vital is that they are listened to, and that balance is achieved in the resulting model. Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


6. M


“Success doesn't necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution” Naveen Jain Innovation requires positive managed action. Three key steps are outlined below to support cities in developing their plans. These can in be understaken by a city’s innovation ecosystem in a self-supporting manner.

Step 1: Assess the city’s current state of urban innovation A city needs to know where it is starting from. To support that base-lining process the blueprint has been developed into an easy-to-complete assessment (provided in Annex). An example is shown in figure 10. This shows, for each of the 4 pillars, where the city feels the situation is between world-class (blue) to an issue area (red). This provides a valuable tool to Figure 10 Urban Innovation Assessment support a pan-city dialogue with the appropriate stakeholders. Such an assessment can be done individually; done independently and shared as an aggregate; or performed in a workshop setting to stimulate action. It is possible that the city appears within some of the innovation rankings, or there are some local indicators that are in place to reflect on. In such circumstances it is worth reviewing these and considering if they are, in sum, measuring the right things – both in scope, and addressing inputs through to impacts. A complementary approach can be undertaken in a workshop setting by discussing and capturing views on the various components of the DSUI framework. These views can be used to develop an action plan.

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Step 2: Perform a ‘Horizon Scan’ to inform the thinking Cities understandably struggle to keep up with what is a very dynamic landscape as regards change across a wide variety of agendas – most all of which in some manner affect the ability of a city to address innovation. These straddle societal, economic, technological, physical and environmental matters. Looking to the new opportunities that are emerging over the horizon offers a city the wherewithal to determine which is more or less likely to affect the city; positively or negatively. A city may have a ‘horizon scanning’ role or mechanism in place, together with a complementary governance structure to monitor and respond with agility to changes observed over different time horizons, in order to determine where and how best to maximise its innovation efforts. Innovation is often viewed as something that is about economic growth and thus tends to sit with a city’s economic development department or agency. This is good, though not entirely sufficient. A broader perspective and wider involvement of stakeholders is required. A city must determine how best to bridge and connect innovation horizon-scanning to existing (e.g. economic development) strategies. Figure 11 links the foundations of economic growth (bottom, current ‘push’ factors) to the areas of observed disruption (top, future ‘pull’ factors).

Figure 11 Mapping of Innovation Pull factors to Cities Push factors

There are some very solid guides in place that support cities in addressing economic development. Although helpful, this is not however genuine innovation. More specific Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


to innovation, Clark and Moonen identified six fundamental drivers of innovation in their work on innovation corridors31. These can be considered as ‘push’ factors that (in combination with economic development) form a solid foundation for what a city might do to support innovation. The ‘pull’ factors are the observed market disruptors that emerge on the horizon. These might include drone technologies, genomics, Machine Learning/AI32, through to advanced materials (like graphene) or concepts like ‘circular cities’. No city can tackle everything on the horizon without causing chronic indigestion. However this is where a city’s innovation ecosystem, working collaboratively, can be distinctive. Innovation requires informed choices that a city makes about what areas to focus on; and there are clearly multiple options in that regard. The trick is to pick a few, agree them amongst the principal actors in the city, then stimulate ‘spikes of innovation’ that connect what is emerging on the horizon to the core foundations. Modern ‘exponential technologies’33 are what is behind much of the current ‘smart city’ movement; one that has been around for a while and has migrated in meaning yet has not diminished in intensity. On the contrary, it continues to be buoyant and better understood. We can all cite multiple examples of where technologies have affected our lives: many positive; some negative. Managing the good and mitigating the bad is all part of making innovation activities come to life. The Tech Foresight team at Imperial College London created a rather far-reaching and thought-provoking ‘periodic table’34 that maps the mind-blowing technologies that will disrupt the world. This resulted in 100 innovations mapped against two axes: time – when these disruptions might be expected; and potential for socio-economic disruption. A less far reaching and more pragmatic stimulus can be found in Sean Moffatt’s “The 30 Technologies of the Next Decade” (see figure 12). Mappings like these can help stimulate city stakeholders prepare the ground to face disruptive change. Each city or city grouping should develop a stretching set of topics to consider that do represent ‘step-out’ thinking, as odd ideas at the boundaries often stimulate fresh and valuable thoughts.

“We will explore the mysteries of science and harness the power of technology and innovation. We will realise the opportunities of the digital world” Narendra Modi

Clark and Moonen (2017). The Logic of Innovation Locations ML/AI, Machine Learning; Assisted, Augmented or Artificial Intelligence 33 Exponential technologies taken ‘in spirit’ as very fast evolving at diminishing prices, and beyond IT. Ref Hays, 2011, 34 'Tech Foresight, Imperial College London, 2018, Richard Watson and Dr Anna Cupani; 31 32

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Figure 12: The 30 Technologies of the Next Decade

Step 3: Determine the focus and priorities for an Innovation Action Plan Identifying individual disruptive forces is informative, however understanding where and how they fit within the city system is vitally important in order to deliver better public good outcomes. In any horizon scanning exercise, one needs to have some form of model to help manage the inter-dependencies that exist between city infrastructures and services. In other words, overtly address the systemic nature of a city. It is by doing so that one uncovers the new opportunities that often come from addressing overlaps and gaps in that model. The ‘Horizon Scanning’ exercise stimulates dialogue and informs direction however, to engage operational staff within a city this must be made very practical. Figure 13 offers a pragmatic city model35 which can be used to engage infrastructure and service owners to enable the conversation to be grounded. The city model identifies three major areas of interdependent activities: (i) city responsibilities; (ii) general enablers, and (iii) digital transformation.


Source: author; and augmented in collaboration with Smart Cities Council

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Figure 13: Three-Layer City Model

The core (blue) City Responsibilities area addresses the infrastructures and services that is central to a city’s existence. These will likely have different ownership structures, and also likely different public, private or third sector organisations involved in delivery. These are the traditional and very necessary ‘service silos’ within a city with their ascribed obligations, and preferences.

The orange General Enablers address the somewhat more traditional crosscutting competencies that ensure a city fulfils its three core purposes. These are typically less defined and involve greater degrees of interpretation and leadership choice. They have a typically longer term and perhaps more strategic mix to them.

The last (green) grouping involves Digital Transformation, which is significantly associated with disruption – thus innovation.

Typically, these three layers do not integrate that well in a city. And that is often through human attitude, behavioural, and communication failings – the ‘silos’ of government. Addressing these can provide a good bedrock for innovation. Linking the Horizon Scan to the City Model results in a conversation starter for engaging people in a real and practical discussion about urban innovation. Although the result of this is likely to be city specific, Figure 14 offers a view of what the going-in asset might look like for that debate. The figure identifies a variety of disruptive technologies and maps them logically to the element within the model where it is likely to have most effect. It also considers three time horizons in which these technologies are likely to reach scale impact in the market. A city that wishes to lead on a particular topic may then elect to pick a few areas and make early moves.

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Figure 14: Identifying Innovation Disruptions mapped to the City Model

This can then lead directly to a conversation between the owner of that asset, service, or process in the city, and the appropriate expert(s) for that particular disruption. A good result from such discussions is likely to include the development of ‘use cases’ that make the implications of disruption very real in terms of public sector, business, visitor or business user. The debate on innovation must explore interdependencies – the implications of actions in one area to another. This could be between city responsibilities, as much as it could be between the three major groups in the model. There may be policy actions in one that lead to impact outcomes in another. It could mean investment in one area that leads to return in another. All with different time horizons that add to this complexity. These are the realities of cities; there must be no apology for that complexity; only appropriate openness, exploratory thinking, and willingness to find new and innovative ways to fix big challenges. The resulting opportunities may involve a whole suite of actions from policy modelling, societal engagement, analysis, further research, solution testing, or just straight through to actions in the field. For example, urban mobility is a contemporary theme that is well-recognised in terms of the need for innovation, yet less-well-understood in terms of the options and actions that cities can take. Mobility offers vast scope for innovation. Addressing how one moves from reliance on hydrocarbon fuels, to (local) renewables that integrate with the grid and local storage systems. How to shift people from their fondness of private to public transport systems through community engagement, and new incentive models. How one stimulates peer-to-peer car sharing by exploiting digital enablers. How to improve the air quality that results from certain mixes of transport modes to reduce ill-health and death tolls. How to shift people to healthy modes like walking and (electric) bicycling through infrastructure upgrades, social engagement, and district social bonds. All this with the likes of blockchain, 5G, and other factors that cut across the agenda. And these points are merely the start. Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


A city can map these interdependent items where they seek to drive innovation (figure 15) to help ensure a more common agreed focus, better plans and resource deployment. Cities offer an enormously exciting landscape for innovation, across a wide range of topics that relate to most all aspects of our lives, and Figure 15: Connecting the dots of thematic innovation address topics that influence well beyond the physical boundaries of the city. Urban innovations, delivered through effective actions within cities, particularly when they are shared and scaled in the cities market, presents mankind with an avenue to be more confident in achieving our presently languishing performance towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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7. C


Three principal conclusions can be drawn: 1. Unless we put a lot more focus on urban innovation there is a strong risk that the result will feel like a relative backwards move in terms of quality of life, to a position that will just be ever-harder to get out of. Like the veritable ‘frog in the pot of water on the stove’ we risk walking into an ugly future. Perhaps not realised in the short term, however more than likely in that of our offspring. We have no excuse not to act now to avert that. There are an enormous number of opportunities out there to be grasped. 2. Innovation can and should be steered, shaped and led. It should not be left to happenstance. The ‘Driven Systemic Urban Innovation’ blueprint offers an organising framework to support collaboration within and between cities to develop a roadmap for innovation. This is awfully important and can also be enjoyable to address. 3. Innovation is about capturing the future. It requires a new mindset and behaviours. It requires passion, obsession, and persistence to support the necessary drive for action. It requires collaboration and a holistic approach to support collaboration across all the various actors – particularly that of involving society. How much do you want your city to be innovative? The choice to act is yours.

“Innovation is the calling card of the future.” Anna Eshoo Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


ANNEX ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, REFERENCES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, ASSESSMENT, CASES Acknowledgements We would like to thank several organisations and individuals who have provided invaluable input and support to this publication: •

The British High Commission, who have sponsored the work in India and without which this unique blueprint would not as yet exist; more importantly without which much of the benefits of it would not have reached recipients. And this is just the beginning.

Colleagues from the studied Cities (notably Milan, London, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Vienna, Dubai, Peterborough, and Chicago) and their Innovation facilities partners that supported the research; providing essential background, facts, and examples; supported site visits and interviews; and validated the research findings.

The Commissioners and staff in the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA), who worked highly collaboratively with us, and most notably in being the first city (Amaravati) to demonstrate the value of the Innovation approach and blueprint.

Joint Secretary Kunal Kumar, Indian Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Director of the 100 Smart Cities Mission, and Jagan Shah the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) Director

Colleagues at British Standards Institution (BSI) and Opportunity Peterborough who played important roles as part of the overall delivery team.

Associate Professor Dan Hoornweg, who provided invaluable input to the white paper, building on many years of worldwide experience as the World Bank’s senior urban advisor; Hardik Bhatt Secretary-designate for innovation for Illinois State; Professor Arjan van Timmeren; Andrew Collinge, advisor to Smart Dubai, and prior Chief Intelligence Officer for London; Professor Miguel Bucalem University of São Paolo; and Klaus Kubeczko, senior advisor, Center for Innovation, Austrian Institute of Technology.

Kate Gasparro, Researcher at Stanford University, who undertook research on innovation indicators

List of References 1. 3.

4. 6. 8.


(footnotes excluded)

UN, World Urbanisation Prospects (2014) link Hoornweg, D. and K. Pope. Population Predictions of world’s Largest Cities in the 21st Century. Environment and Urbanization, (2016) Article: link Figures as shown: EIP-SCC Towards a Joint Investment Plan for EU Smart Cities (2018) link World Economic Forum, Cities, not nation states, will determine our future survival. Here's why. Link Business Dictionary, Innovation definition, link Examples of concerning articles that affect cities directly or indirectly • Growth: The Guardian: (Mar 2018) “The 100 million city: is 21st century urbanisation out of control?” link • Soil Degradation: Business Insider, “Soil health essential to beating climate change and meeting SDGs” Link • Climate: BBC, “Hothouse Earth” link Geoffrey West: “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies”. London, (May 2017); and “Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities”, (2007), Luis Bettencourt, G. West et al (data 20-30% increase of inventors, patents, R&D jobs) link

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10. Urban Hub, (July 2018) “The professor and the manager: two unique worlds collaborating to accelerate innovation” link 11. EIP-SCC ‘Small Giants’ initiative, 2018 link 12. Opportunity Peterborough, Circular City Programme, website 13. Exponential technologies taken ‘in spirit’ as very fast evolving at diminishing prices, and beyond IT. Ref also Hays, 2011, Link 14. 'Tech Foresight, Imperial College London, (2018), Richard Watson and Dr Anna Cupani; “A periodic table of mind-blowing tech, and it's a handy guide to how the world will change forever”, Link 16. Footnote: List of indexes. See ‘list of relevant Indexes’ (below) 17. JLL. (2015). Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities. Link 18. Huawei & Navigant, UK Smart Cities Index 2017, Assessment of Strategy and Execution for the UK’s Leading Smart Cities link 19. European Commission. (2016). European Digital City Index. Link 20. Start-up Britain, UK start-up Tracker Website 21. Greater London Authority, “London Workspaces” Interactive database Website 22. New York Economic Development Corporation, (April 2018), Global Start-up Ecosystem Report: NYC Home to Over 7,000 Startups, $71B Ecosystem link 23. New York City Comptroller, CheckBook NYC, (financial transparency) interactive website 24. Israeli start-ups raised more than $5 billion in 2017 Link 25. Tel Aviv Smart City – Non-Stop City Link 26. Opportunity Peterborough, City Economic Development Agency, website 27. Opportunity Peterborough, Circular City Programme, website 28. Opportunity Peterborough, Digital Innovation, website 29. EIP-SCC, 6-Nations Smart Cities Forum Initiative website 30. 6-Nations Smart City Forum Blueprint, 2015, link 31. Clark and Moonen (2017). The Logic of Innovation Locations: Link 33. Exponential technologies taken ‘in spirit’ as very fast evolving at diminishing prices, and beyond IT. A definition from Hays, 2011 Link 34. 'Tech Foresight, Imperial College London, 2018, Richard Watson and Dr Anna Cupani Link 36. Map of 100 Smart Cities Mission, Source: Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), India

Indexes: a selection from the 40+ reviewed global innovation benchmarks • • • •

• • • • •

Global Innovation Index. (2017). Link European Commission. (2016). European Digital City Index. Link JLL. (2015). Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities. Link Clark, G. and Moonen, T. (2013). What do 150 city indexes and benchmarking studies tell us about the urban world in 2013? [online] JLL. Link Huawei. (2017). UK Smart Cities Index 2017. Link JLL. (2017). Decoding City Performance. Link The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). (2016). Social Innovation Index 2016 Infographic. Link JLL. (2018). World Cities: Mapping the Pathways to Success Link ATKearney. (2017). Global Cities 2017: Leaders in a World of Disruptive Innovation. Link JLL. (2015). The Business of Cities. [ebook] JLL. Link

Bibliography: Reports, Papers & Articles • • • • • •

• •

Clark and Moonen (2017). The Logic of Innovation Locations: Link World Economic Forum. (2017). Cities, not nation states, will determine our future survival. Here's why. Link Giacomello, E. (2015). Case Study: Bosco Verticale, Milan. Link European Commission. (2018). Comparative Overview of Public Expenditure in EU Member States. Link European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. (2014). Six-Nations Smart Cities Forum. Link European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. (2018). Towards a Joint Investment Programme for European Smart Cities. Link Centre for an Urban Future. (2013). Innovation and the City NYC. Link The 100 million city: is 21st century urbanisation out of control? The Guardian, (March 2018): Link Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


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The Future Of Cities: Tapping The Transformative Power Of Exponential Technologies, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis Link US Innovation Zones – tech-centric district infrastructure & service experimentation Link The 4 Types of Innovation and the Problems They Solve, Greg Satell, (June 2017) Link Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities, (2007), Luis Bettencourt, G. West et al Sustainability through the World’s Cities, (April 2018), D. Hoornweg, Why startups are leaving Silicon Valley, (Aug 2018), The Economist Link OECD, 2016, “Lower public R&D spending and protectionist risks may pose a threat to innovation” Link World Bank, “Boosting tech innovation ecosystems in cities: a framework for growth and sustainability of urban tech innovation ecosystems”, (2015), Mulas, Victor; Minges, Michael; Applebaum, Hallie Rocklin Link Centre for Public Impact; various (city innovation) case studies. Link World Bank Group Trade & Competitiveness, Paulo Correa, Guidance Note, Public Expenditure Reviews in Science, Technology, and Innovation. Link UNESCO Institute for Statistics, interactive website, “How much does your country spend on R&D?” (Israel and Korean Republic top the % GDP chart; 80% of overall R&D spend of $1.7trl from 10 countries) OECD Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) – Public Consultation on a Draft Declaration on Public Sector Innovation (2019) Link

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Innovation Assessment – cities are invited to assess their current state to support dialogue/plans Framework Conditions Typical challenges to overcome 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Alignment: there is sufficient alignment within the city amongst key actors, and between tiers of administration; if not operationalising innovation is hard Clarity: the meaning of ‘innovation’ as a term is fully understood and appreciated amongst key stakeholders Direction: ambitions, purpose, principles, priorities, and strategy are all agreed and clearly articulated to inform actions and make choices Agility: flexibility is built into policy cycles, working practices, cultural norms, political mandates, to cater for ever-diminishing cycles of change Culture: innovation is built into the ‘cultural DNA’ of society and bravery of thought and innovation failures are applauded as key learning opportunities Context: the city/region’s legacy and strengths (& weaknesses) are captured and recognised as a foundation to inform innovation action plans Scale: the advantages of scale (large or small) are exploited; and where collaboration can build positive scale advantage that is embraced Regulation: the pace of development, latitude in application, policy and regulatory support exists for success (e.g. procurement of innovation) International: the city/region is effectively networked internationally to ensure experience, practices, insights are shared to maximise learning Foresight: a nominated role / expert network is in place to inform horizon scanning and filter relevant disruptions into the innovation ecosystem

Pan-City (& Ecosystem Network) Enablement Typical challenges to overcome 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 8 10 11 12

Demand: societal needs (residents, entrepreneurs, visitors) are adequately collected, listened to, and provide an input to innovation prioritisation Priorities: are sufficiently clear amongst the innovation ecosystem (leadership) to balance freedom of thought and helpful focus Synergies: mechanisms are in place to identify synergies; for instance, potential for demand aggregation or ‘hub-&-spokes’ to influence the market Quadruple Helix: ‘city hall’ plays a proactive and effective role in ‘convening’ the innovation ecosystem; and all actors collaborate effectively Focus: themes and sectors that offer clear potential are selected, proactively managed and suitably resourced Stimulus: public and private leaders provide the right level of stimulus to the ecosystem to inspire innovation (e.g. competitions / challenges) Intervention: ‘city hall’ and/or other leaders intervene to course correct, ensure balance, or stimulate opportunities in a timely, appropriate manner Flexibility & Pace: ‘choose, act, test, sense, and respond’ – these happens in a naturally choreographed manner to cause good innovation to flourish Resource: the right human skills, capacity, and experience is deployed in an adequately coordinated manner across ecosystem actors Services: a suitable basket of compliance and value-added services are available to the innovation and (small) business community Delivery: services in support of innovation are efficiently and effectively provided from across the public, private and 3 rd sector, and communicated Digitisation: the powers of digitisation are fully deployed to ensure innovation ecosystem efficacy Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


Innovation in Action Typical challenges to overcome 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Place: adequate physical places (districts, campuses, buildings), spaces, and equipment exist to stimulate and service the innovation opportunity People: adequate human skills, knowledge, and behaviours at an operational (facility) level are in place to manage place and innovation process Process: the ideation-to-market-adoption process is clear; interventions and tools that support pace and quality are in place Profile: the launch profile of the proposition when the ‘ribbon is cut’ of any facility is clear, appropriate and compelling (people/place/process) Portfolio: adequate facilities (districts/hubs/incubators/labs) are in place to support current and anticipated future demand / opportunity profile PPP: investment in place is suitably mixed between public and private sectors to stimulate support, however not over-bias innovation direction Policy Lab: from a ‘city hall’ standpoint the notion of a physical or virtual ‘policy lab’ is in discussion/place to ensure ‘public good’ innovations occur

Sustaining Value Typical challenges to overcome 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Goals: shared vision and goals are in place amongst key city stakeholders, and motives are suitably aligned to support the innovation ecosystem Indicators: a blend of lead/lag value metrics are used with a clear red thread from policy to impact; implemented pragmatically, and evidencing gains Systemic: innovation is understood and managed as an interconnected ecosystem with an agile and holistic process from purpose to impact Governance: a quadruple helix innovation board (perhaps with international input) is in place that own the strategy and roadmap, and operate effectively Business Model: ownership of facilities & assets bias success; it flexes with lifecycle and maturity; and is designed to deliver prosperity and sustainability Funding: sources of money and in-kind resource from all sectors are accessible to support at system and opportunity levels Risk: risk is accepted, commended, and monitored at portfolio and individual opportunity level to appropriately steer towards success Bench-learning: the city is open to compare with and learn from others and pro-actively seeks to openly communicate performance

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Case: The Blueprint in Application – Amaravati Amaravati is India’s largest new-build city; a $7 billion investment, which by 2030 is expected to support a population of 3.5 million. The vision is simple and clear – a ‘happy city', that will be the People’s Capital. A city with the highest standards of liveability, infrastructure, and a thriving economic environment. There are too many examples around the world of new-build cities that have the physical, however lack the human. Good intentions yet empty shells, the result of substantial wasted investment. Amaravati, like them, faces that risk. However with a vision that springs from the roots of the people in the 20-plus villages that presently populate the area; with a groundswell of support through an innovative landpooling deal that helps keep the indigenous population there and offers them a share in the city’s success; with a substantial portion of the funds already under contract; and with the very evident passion and personal drive of the Andhra Pradesh State Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, this risk is mitigated considerably. Amaravati has the very real opportunity (some might pose, obligation) to develop a new model for urban living. For India. And one that can positively infect the Rest of the World. The desire for innovation, and the potential scope of it, stretches across every aspect of the city. There are very clearly stated intentions around innovation for sustainable outcomes, that tackle the likes of blue-green solutions, transportation, housing, health & wellbeing, government services, and the economy. Much choice, and much opportunity! The city has already established the seed-corn of a strong international innovation network, and in early 2018 launched the inaugural Happy Cities Summit as a demonstration of the Chief Minister’s commitment to innovation. So, solid framework conditions to build on. Following support to the development of Amaravati through the Smart City Leadership Programme in 2017, and at a more practical level, working with the Commissioner’s team and trusted advisors, the innovation agenda was tackled headon. This involved working sessions with staff addressing both city responsibilities, and digital agenda. This ‘digital infrastructure and services master-planning’ initiative focused on eight priority themes. For each of these themes the discussion started with goals: what is it that will deliver outcomes that are consistent with the vision? From there the discussion turned to measurable targets and indicators; implications on infrastructure and services; and opportunities from digital disruption. The sequence is captured in figure 16. Driven Systemic Urban Innovation |


Step A: Identify goals, targets and indicators, informed by and stretching beyond national requirements Step B: focusing on the user experience, identify innovation initiatives that emerge for each theme and related service / infrastructure

Figure 16: Amaravati Digital Master-Planning Process

Step C: list data requirements to serve these use cases and the disruptive technologies that can enable them.

This very practical exercise, that sits at the heart of digitally-enabled city responsibilities, was complemented by a broader emerging strategic plan, specifically focused on the innovation blueprint. Amaravati’s Innovation Roadmap (figure 17 is strategically informed by the leadership programme, the digital master-planning workshop, the London School of Economics Smart Cities Executive masterclass that featured the city as a case study, and various discussions with the Innovation Director and the team. The Figure 17: Amaravati Innovation Blueprint Roadmap Commissioner’s Roadmap follows the structure of the innovation blueprint, capturing short, medium and long-term actions for the city’s journey. One that has the hallmarks to set a vitally important course for innovative outcomes not only in Amaravati; in India; and cities throughout fast-developing and developed countries.

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Case: Urban Innovation at Real Scale India is going through a massive urban transformation, the scale of which has no precedent. 100 cities have been selected to form the core of the Smart Cities Mission that will provide ‘lighthouses’ for Indian urban renovation. The 100 stimulate the 500, spread to the 4041 total. With a population that has doubled over 40 years to 1.3 billion people, and with ever-increasing urbanisation, there is a clear opportunity to embrace innovative ‘digital first’ ways of designing urban infrastructures and providing services. Adoption of these solutions will also require considerable social innovation. The Ministry’s Mission Director recognises the potential of an ecosystem of cities as effective ‘hub & spokes’ to stimulate, build momentum, and sustain effective innovation at a national scale. Mobilising the more progressive smart cities to collectively drive innovation offers enormous potential; and there is an abundant scope for innovation. Far swifter and greater success will come through such collaborations. To support alignment and build commitment for the initial phase of innovation activities, the Director sponsored formative workshops with cities, experts, and various external enabling bodies, supported by a number of collaborating advisors engaged by the British High Commission. The innovation blueprint provided a solid foundation on which to cover all aspects of innovation; assessing where the strengths and weaknesses stood; identifying practical recommendations for improvements to national and state-level framework conditions; addressing what the various stakeholders could do to strengthen collaboration across the quadruple helix; working up more detail on how a national innovation hub and national virtual platform could best interface with state and city level innovation facilities; and exploring what is required to ensure innovation sustains and delivers the intended value. The work focused on the development of Phase 0 national assets, and separately on Phase 1 to build critical mass with participating cities. The work focused on three time horizons.

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Figure 18: Indian Smart Cities Innovation Workshop

Subsequent to the workshops the Mission Director and his team developed business justification papers to seek formal budget support, and put more detail to the emerging plans.

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About UrbanDNA & the authors UrbanDNA is a specialist partnership with trusted globally experienced staff that aspires to work with city market multipliers, groups of progressive cities, and their industry partners, in collaboration, to deliver better solutions faster to shared urban challenges. Our work spans strategic advice, solutions that transform service outcome, to specific technical solutions. The partnership is UK based, with international operations, and a global network of associates and partners.

GRAHAM COLCLOUGH email:; Tel +44 771 031 3944 Graham brings a wealth of international cities experience, with deep involvement in the global smart cities agenda through positions within the European Smart Cities & Communities Innovation Partnership; a variety of collaborative multi-city international programmes, national and international standards; and active collaboration with investors and city market multipliers.

FRANCESCO PAPA - Urban Sustainability Analyst email:; Tel: +44 7514 252514 Francesco holds an MSc in Climate Change, Finance and Management from Imperial College. He completed his thesis on ‘Greening Cities for a sustainable and valuable future’ using London as a business case. He continues to research innovative policies to foster the development of sustainable cities, including green/blue solutions, innovation policies, and smart city strategies. Francesco previously founded a charity called ‘Green Mind Project’ to take action on Climate Change and received an award from the Dean of Imperial College.

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