The Civic Accelerator: A Guelph experiment

A look at the Guelph Civic Accelerator pilot, a project that is breathing new life into traditional public procurement
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The Civic Accelerator: A Guelph Experiment
Caitlin Cassie
Policy Advisor

About this Report

The Civic Accelerator pilot project is an initiative co-developed by the City of Guelph‘s innovation team and the Guelph Lab, which has a mandate to leverage research from the University of Guelph and apply it to real life problems. It is one example of what can happen when a city government reimagines how they do procurement within the existing regulatory context, in order to provide better services to citizens, on one hand, and create commercialization opportunities for early stage businesses on the other.

We know governments across the country are considering procurement experiments of their own. We believe that insights from Guelph’s Civic Accelerator might be instructive. We walk interested readers through this as follows: first, we briefly explain the Civic Accelerator model; then we examine whether the Civic Accelerator pilot is achieving its goals; we then dive into the model to glean how it actually works; and, finally, we conclude by sharing some thoughts on what we are likely to see next in Guelph and beyond.

Read this report to help you:
  • Understand traditional government procurement practices and how Guelph’s Civic Accelerator has innovated the process within the existing policy framework.
  • Learn about the role of government in supporting early-stage companies through co-development and procurement of goods and services.
  • Learn more about how Guelph’s Civic Accelerator pilot project could inform similar practices in other municipalities.

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Key findings from the report:

We asked for key insights on how the Guelph Civic Accelerator team was able to make this new, alternative process a success. We recommend governments that are keen to innovate their own procurement processes do the following:

  • Consider how existing procurement regulations and protocols may provide an opportunity for experimentation and innovation.
  • Work closely with legal and procurement teams – relationships matter.
  • Identify champions, both within government and in the local innovation ecosystem.
  • Design your request for proposal (RFP) with early-stage companies in mind.
  • Prioritize data-driven policy making, with a focus on experimentation and iteration

Deep Dive

1 Result


Jun 1, 2017

The City of Guelph re-imagined a procurement process that could provide better services to citizens, while simultaneously creating more commercialization opportunities for early-stage businesses
Illustration of anthropomorphic chemistry apparatus.
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