50 United Nations Plaza Federal Building

Superpublic innovation lab to tackle urban problems

A new cross-sector innovation lab is opening in San Francisco that aims to solve urban problems through the development and delivery of government services.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, the Commerce Department and the General Services Administration announced the new 5,000 square-foot Superpublic lab, in which multiple layers of government will work in same location with private-sector innovation teams, spurring product and service development to drive more responsive and efficient government.

Superpublic will focus on four pillars of activities, each run by a specific partner. State and federal government will focus on policy and innovation; universities will tackle research and development; the City Innovate Foundation, which is helping manage the lab, will commercialize solutions; and industry partners will scale products.

The lab will address three to four problems per year that will be determined by a steering committee. Projects might include smart city solutions, performance-based procurement and digital services in government.

The lab is located in GSA’s United Nations Plaza building, which also houses teams from 18F and the U.S. Digital Service. Superpublic is expected to open in July 2016 and will also host meetings, trainings, hackathons and contests to engage the community.

Membership in Superpublic is available to cities and private sector corporations, and members will be able to make selective investments in projects as they move out of the lab and into the market. So far, corporate and non-profit partners include Microsoft, Deloitte and the Local Government Commission. The University of California Berkeley, the Center for Design Research at Stanford University and the MIT Media Lab “City Science” are expected to join, as are some 20 additional cities.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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