Citymart to help city governments tackle local problems through innovation challenges with $398,000 from Knight Foundation

Press Release

January 14, 2015

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New approach to government procurement will use civic tech to propel city success in U.S. cities

MIAMI — Jan. 14, 2015 — Citymart, a global organization focused on opening up the government procurement process as a key to civic innovation, will bring its model to the United States. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting Citymart’s U.S. launch in at least four communities where Knight invests.

Related Link

"Citymart expands to U.S. to make procurement more open, agile and resilient" by Sascha Haselmeyer on Knight Blog (01/14/2015)

Citymart opens up the municipal procurement process by running challenges that invite all individuals with good ideas to offer solutions to city problems. Under the traditional procurement process, bidders seek to develop solutions prescribed by the city, a practice that tends to favor existing approaches and established players. Citymart’s technology-based model opens a door for residents, small businesses and entrepreneurs with new ideas. It promotes greater government transparency and accountability, while engaging citizens in building solutions.

Citymart’s approach to procurement was forged through partnerships with 50 cities, including San Francisco, Barcelona and London. Since its founding in 2011, Citymart, has taken on more than 100 problems for cities, connecting governments with thousands of innovators to find solutions.

With Knight funding, Citymart will establish operations in the United States, and help four communities where Knight invests adopt new approaches to procurement. Working with Citymart, participating cities will receive matching funds to launch challenges that address specific local issues through an online platform. Additionally, Citymart will build awareness of their model in the United States with road shows to different cities. They will also prepare a report on their experiences implementing the model in the United States, and share lessons learned.

“We are very excited about Citymart’s approach and its model for helping cities innovate by rethinking government processes. It reflects Knight’s own preference for inviting new ideas through open challenges,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “Citymart is also helping cities expand opportunity by using procurement as a way to engage a wider community of entrepreneurs and innovators.  The process not only brings new participants and new ideas, it gets citizens to engage directly with everyday acts of city governance.”

“Cities spend billions of dollars every year to help their communities, but they are not seeing the results necessary to build more successful, livable communities,” said Sascha Haselmayer, Citymart CEO and founder. “Support from Knight Foundation is incredibly important to help U.S. cities experience a new approach to engaging citizens and matching community needs with the best available solutions.”

The funding will allow U.S. cities to experience and evaluate how Citymart’s approach can become an instrument for lasting transformation in their communities. The method of problem-based procurement is coupled with capacity-building activities in city government and local businesses.

Support for Citymart forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to invest in in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement. We believe that designing places to achieve these goals is crucial to city success.

For more information visit citymart.com. Please visit the Knight blog for regular updates on the Citymart roadshow.

About Citymart

Citymart helps cities deliver impact by strengthening their innovation capacity and sharing inspiring solutions and methods to transform their communities. The problem-based procurement method, co-designed by Citymart and 52 cities worldwide, helps cities to create more local jobs, deliver better quality services and cut costs. citymart.com

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. KnightFoundation.org

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CONTACTS:

Ana Lopez, Project Manager, Citymart, 646-233-3110, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]