Business center of a city
Business center of a city

City Innovation Ecosystems

Committing to Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In partnership with and support from Schmidt Futures and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the City Innovation Ecosystems program ask city leaders to commit to creating the right policies, program, and practices to ensure their communities can thrive in the global, innovation-driven economy. We help participating cities reach their goals by providing technical assistance, seed funding, and peer learning. 

Now in its second year, this network has grown to include over 100 cities working and learning together. 

Making a Commitment

We believe there is real value in the process of selecting and articulating a public commitment to action in service of the innovation economy. 

A commitment announces a shared vision for local stakeholders to rally around. Alone, it may not mean much, but a written commitment that aligns the work of city hall, the business community, education leaders, and others can set an agenda for action in your city. 

A commitment puts your city on the map nationally as a leader in the innovation economy. Bold visions that are backed up by real work can make your city stand out and NLC is eager to showcase cities that model innovation and ambition. 

A commitment clarifies your needs and helps us connect you to the right information, resources and partners that can help you accomplish your goals. 

The Impact

In the program's inaugural year, 50 cities joined by making specific and bold commitments. Ranging from rural townships, to college towns, to major metros, these cities linked with over 200 local partners and will deploy over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young business, leverage technology, and expand STEM education for all. 

At the start of our second year, we partnered with the Kauffman Foundation's Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship to focus on ten specific initiatives that support new and young businesses. After a full conference of hands-on collaboration in Kansas City, over 60 mayors and mayoral representatives present committed to moving forward with their chosen intervention. 

Get Involved

The City Innovation Ecosystems program offers two ways to join our network:

Each year, we will build a menu of policy and programmatic interventions to commit to in partnership with the Kauffman Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship. This option provides more structure to your commitment and connects you with peer cities working on the exact same topic. Our 2020 menu will be announced during registration for the June 2020 Mayors Conference. More info available here

If your city has a clear idea of a new initiative that you'd like to commit to, we offer the ability to "Make Your Own". To get more information about the work, we ask you to submit a one paragraph explanation of you commitment that includes: who is responsible, what will be accomplished, and what is the time frame. This option provides flexibility to join our network while focusing on new priorities already in your pipeline. 

If you are interested in learning more, contact Scott Andes, program director for City Innovation Ecosystems, at andes@nlc.org or with further questions.