The general public does not commonly view councils as being fast-moving or innovative. Given local government faces increasingly demanding and complex community expectations, it is more imperative now than ever for them to move faster. Over the last few years, councils in Australia have been investing heavily in building innovation culture and more recently the progressive councils have started to look “outside the building” for solutions that have the potential to address community challenges.
In 2019, three leading councils in Victoria (City of Ballarat, City of Casey, City of Whittlesea) partnered with Collective Campus to create opportunities for startups and scaleups to solve challenges within the community. The ‘Springboard’ program offered innovators and entrepreneurs from not only Australia but all over the world, the chance to share their innovative solutions to address high priority areas. Successful startups would be given the opportunity to share their ideas, develop proof-of-concepts and work directly with local government.
The program aimed to address the following three focus areas.
The councils are striving to create compact neighbourhoods within their communities. A compact neighbourhood is one where residents have the ability to meet most of their everyday needs within a short time frame from their home. They are looking to improve community traffic and transport to enable all residents to have their everyday needs met within a short time frame.
The councils were interested in solutions that could help them reduce traffic, improve transportation and better understand movement within their communities.
In the most recent Australian National Waste Report, it was found that Australia generates more waste and also recycles less than the average country (when compared with a selection of other developed economies). In 2016-17 Australia generated an estimated 67 million tonnes of waste, which is equivalent to 2.7 tonnes of waste per person.
The councils were interested in solutions that could help their communities create more sustainable households and reduce the amount of waste that they produce.
Now more than ever, councils are placing an importance on healthy eating, regular exercise and mental wellbeing of residents. Many families within communities struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially given the ease of access to unhealthy food options and limited motivation to exercise.
The councils were interested in solutions that could help them create better opportunities for their residents to access healthy food options, including fresh fruit and vegetables, and be physically active within their communities.
Once the focus areas were identified, we started our worldwide search for startups with solutions to address these areas. We received more than 200 applications from startups all over the world and leveraged analytics to assess each application across more than 30 factors and developed an initial shortlist. Approximately 30 startups were shortlisted and in collaboration with the councils this was narrowed down to 11 startups that were invited to pitch in person.
The overall program took less than three months to complete - from focus area development all the way to the pitch event for the shortlisted startups. Out of the 11 startups that pitched:
The councils are now exploring different partnership models ranging from becoming a customer to trialling solutions with a small group in the community. Due to the overwhelming success of the program in 2019, we will be launching a new program in 2020. If your council is keen to get involved, please get in touch.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.