Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the winners of the Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to encourage American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve tough problems and improve life in the city.
Proving that there is plenty of room for big ideas in a small state, Providence, RI, won the Mayors Challenge Grand Prize for Innovation and will receive a $5 million implementation award for its cutting-edge early education initiative.
Prizes also were awarded to Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica, each of which will receive $1 million to support implementation. The five winning ideas highlight the diverse array of complex and common challenges facing cities:
Mayors of U.S. cities with at least 30,000 residents were eligible to compete in this inaugural challenge, and 305 cities representing 45 states tossed their municipal hats in the ring. Twenty finalists were selected and, in November 2012, teams from each of those cities attended Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City, to help refine and strengthen their ideas. After Camp, finalists received individualized coaching to prepare their final submissions in January 2013.
Congratulations to the winning cities and to all 20 finalists for creating innovative ideas with the potential to solve problems, facilitate data-driven decisions, tap the ingenuity of citizen solvers, and improve city life for residents.
And, kudos to Bloomberg Philanthropies for using an incentive prize competition to drive innovation. The Obama Administration has taken important steps to make prizes and challenges a standard tool for open innovation in every Federal agency’s toolbox to spur innovation and advance their missions. Since its launch in 2010, Challenge.gov has featured more than 240 prizes offered by over 50 Federal departments and agencies.
Cristin Dorgelo is Assistant Director for Grand Challenges at OSTP