Municipal Innovation Exchange

Smarter Procurement for Smart Cities


Civic innovation and technologies can help cities advanced smart cities ambitions and deliver better services and experiences for their communities. How might municipal procurement be designed to increase impactful innovation procurement? How might we increase innovation adoption within and between cities?

Public sector procurement can be a barrier to innovation when it involves onerous paperwork, inflexible processes and rigid problem definitions and scopes of work. Vendor requirements can also become barriers for small and medium enterprises, and ventures. The City of Guelph has demonstrated that procurement can also be a lever for innovation when it is used as a civic accelerator to embed innovation vendors within government contexts to develop local solutions with the potential to scale regionally and globally.


From the City of Guelph press release

“The City of Guelph, in partnership with the cities of London and Barrie, as well as MaRS Discovery District (MaRS), is embarking on an exciting three-year Municipal Innovation Exchange (MIX) project.

MIX will open new economic opportunities to a range of businesses and help public sector institutions improve how they provide services. It is based on the success of the City of Guelph’s ground-breaking Civic Accelerator model (co-designed with the Guelph Lab) and MaRS’ Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design health innovation program.
The MIX will improve and expand the practice of innovation procurement in the municipal sector and create practices that are tested, scalable and sustainable. The three cities of Guelph, Barrie and London will be collaborating with vendors and community members to design open, fair, transparent and innovative practices that will be tested through six challenges over the three-year project.

Through the MIX process, businesses will be embedded in municipal planning and operations, providing first-hand experience that will help them develop solutions. A broad scope of businesses will be able to participate, from large established vendors to small and medium enterprises such as start-ups and entrepreneurs often excluded from municipal procurement invitations and tenders.”

The full press release is available here.


The three main goals are to change the way municipalities procure solutions to adapt to the complex challenges they’re facing, to foster the development of innovative solutions across municipalities in Ontario, and to build municipalities’ involvement in their local innovation ecosystems.

This project was launched in April 2018. Updates will be available here as the project progresses.

Learn More

You can learn more about the project on the City of Guelph’s website.