(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Monday became the first cities outside the US to win Bloomberg Philanthropy grants in the Expanded Innovation Teams Programs.
The program funds municipalities to improve residents’ lives through the use of data and open innovation for solving tough urban problems.
The capital’s $850,000 grant will focus on poverty reduction and economic development, while the coastal metropolis’s $650,000 will focus on illegal immigration and the cost of living.
The cities are to use the money to hire “i-teams,” innovation teams to address the challenges over the course of three years.
“Successful innovation depends as much on the ability to generate ideas as it does the capacity to execute them – and i-teams help cities do both,” billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, said. “More and more city governments around the world are eager to innovate, so we’re excited to expand the program beyond US borders by bringing i-teams to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo.”
The Israeli cities will join 12 US counterparts in the program, which will launch in the spring.
“This grant is an investment in the future of the city of Jerusalem, as well as recognition that Jerusalem is a hub for innovation,” the capital’s Mayor Nir Barkat said. “It is quite fitting that one of the world’s most ancient cities will be generating new thought leadership and clarity on how cities approach challenges, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ i-teams.”
The Bloomberg Philanthropies, which distributed nearly a half-billion dollars in 2013, cover all of the former New York mayor’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving.
“The fact is there are very few tools or reliable approaches available to mayors who want to innovate more often, more effectively, and with a better return on that investment for residents,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ i-teams program helps cities get better at innovation, which is vital given the increasing constraints under which so many of our mayors work today.”
Tel Aviv recently won an award for “World’s Smartest City” for its Digi-tel platform, which connects citizens to city services.
In May, Bloomberg was honored in Jerusalem with the first Genesis Prize, an award given for leading contributors to “Jewish values” with respect to philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, human rights and improving the world through innovation and compassion. Bloomberg said he would use the money to find a “Genesis challenge” competition to inspire the next generation of Jews.
Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report.