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Administrator Denise Turner Roth and City Innovate Foundation Announce First-of-its-Kind Innovation Lab Bringing Public, Private and Non-Profit Sectors Together to Solve Urban Problems

May 10, 2016

5,000 sq. ft. “Superpublic” at 50 U.N. Plaza Federal Office Building will be nation’s first collaborative workspace to host City, State, and Federal policymakers under one roof; The innovation Lab will be run by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, City Innovate Foundation and General Services Administration to help improve delivery of city services; UC Berkeley, the Center for Design Research at Stanford University and MIT Media Lab “City Science” expected to join Superpublic

San Francisco, CA – Today, the City Innovate Foundation was joined by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Denise Turner Roth and the U.S. Department of Commerce to announce a first-of-its-kind Innovation lab to solve urban problems and scale solutions at 50 United Nations Plaza. The 5,000 sq. ft. Superpublic will serve as a platform for the public, private, and non-profit sectors to work together to address the most pressing challenges facing cities and invent the next generation of services. The lab unites under the same roof for the first time innovation teams from the private industry, federal, state and city government agencies and from universities including: UC Berkeley, the Center for Design Research at Stanford University (expected) and MIT Media Lab “City Science” (expected). Corporate and non-profit partners include: Microsoft, Deloitte, Local Government Commission and others to be announced at the end of May 2016.

“New technologies, the internet, and the digital economy are sources of job creation, enablers of global trade and commerce, and key elements of America’s competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Superpublic creates a forum to bring together leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors to create digital solutions that address our cities’ most pressing issues and develop stronger partnerships in the process.”

“Superpublic presents a unique opportunity to solve common problems that persist at all levels of government and demonstrate a model for collaboration that can be replicated in other cities across the United States,” said Denise Turner Roth, GSA Administrator. “This is a great example of how the General Services Administration is finding new and innovative ways to improve the way we work, both as a catalyst for community economic development, and as a provider of modern IT services.”

Superpublic is the nation’s first innovation lab for City, State and Federal policymakers, academia and industry partners to catalyze collaboration and improve the delivery of government services. The lab managed by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (SFMOCI), GSA and City Innovate Foundation will break down silos between different layers of government. Superpublic will bring together multiple layers of government in the same location and act as a catalyst for product and service development to drive more responsive and efficient government.

“San Francisco is a City of free thinkers and innovators always striving to improve the quality of life for everyone and ensure the prosperity of our City is shared by all our residents,” said Mayor Lee. “Working together in a shared space like Superpublic with partners in government, academia, business, non-profit sector and the public, we can create a more livable, sustainable, equitable and safe San Francisco.”

"Entrepreneurs want a place where they can collaborate with government to improve their cities. Superpublic will give citizens a seat at the table to work on our most pressing issues," said California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. "5O UN Plaza helped launch a new way of governing last century. It is only fitting that Superpublic will call it home as we reimagine how services are delivered."

Superpublic will be co-located in the same building as teams from the federal government's 18F and U.S. Digital Service (USDS). 18F is a digital consultancy inside the GSA, working with federal agencies to rapidly deploy tools and online services that are reusable, cut costs, and are easier for people and businesses to use. Part of the U.S. CIO's office, USDS takes on the highest priority projects for the Obama administration: from benefits for veterans and the health insurance marketplace to student loans, immigration, and more.

“By providing the physical space for shared problem solving, in addition to our expertise in digital government in service of this initiative, GSA continues to fulfill its mission of being a proactive federal partner,” said Andrew McMahon, GSA Regional Administrator. “We are excited to support Superpublic and will continue to help drive the vision and success of this creative undertaking.”

City Innovate Foundation staff will coordinate the activity of member organizations and put on programming that builds capacity among members to solve problems, prototype solutions, and create innovative approaches to policies that accelerate change. Many projects are expected to come into Superpublic from city, state, and federal agencies; the goal of Superpublic is to give these projects work space where people can come together and do creative and groundbreaking work, taking advantage of innovations in technology that are changing the smart city landscape. Superpublic expects to focus on three to four problems per year. A Steering Committee, co-chaired by the U.S. GSA, the SFMOCI and the City Innovate Foundation will select the projects. Potential examples include:

· Digital Services in Government: More than ever before, residents now expect services to be available online. The development of new digital services is an opportunity to rethink how we deliver services to ensure every resident has the access they need. The City of SF is looking to replicate the success of 18F and USDS to create new digital teams

· Smart Cities: How we move ourselves and goods around is rapidly changing. We can either embrace and shape these changes or be at the mercy of them. San Francisco has chosen to lead the way by putting people first in developing safer, more equitable and innovative solutions to transportation challenges. The City of SF is working with DOT, DOE, and DOC on advancing smart cities in San Francisco and nationally - specifically on mobility in the near term

· Performance-based Procurement: How do we make sure that the money spent by the government delivers tangible results? How can we use procurement terms to cut cycle time and/or improve quality? We will work to advance innovative financing models to increase impact and accountability

“Superpublic is a platform for government, private companies and non-profits to collaborate to build concrete products for the challenges of future smarter cities. We are proud to be a part of this first-of-its-kind initiative to closely cooperate with the city, state and federal government, leading companies, non-profit organizations and universities to solve urban problems,” said Kamran Saddique, Founder and CEO of City Innovate Foundation. “San Francisco is recognized as the innovation capital of the world and we have the opportunity to accelerate innovative solutions to city problems and share these solutions with more cities in the U.S. and the world with our partners.”

Superpublic takes its inspiration from Superpublic in Paris, Future Cities Catapult in the United Kingdom, MaRs Discovery District in Toronto, Civic Hall in New York and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, all mission-driven organizations creating platforms to innovate and improve urban development. By the year 2020, 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in major urban centers. To meet the challenges of growing city populations new solutions are urgently needed. Superpublic will look to solve civic problems and share these with other cities on how to apply technology to civic problems.

“Superpublic builds upon San Francisco’s historic leadership in civic innovation,” said Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president, Technology and Civic Engagement, Microsoft. “This forum allows every stakeholder to participate in the discussion of how to build a more productive, safe, sustainable and healthy city. At Microsoft, we believe technology can be a powerful tool to empower cities and are excited to be part of the conversation.”

Since 2014, the City Innovate Foundation has been working with city leaders, the private sector, and universities (MIT Media Lab, UC Berkeley), to accelerate technology-based innovation. Superpublic is scheduled to open by late Spring 2016 and it will be the first of a series of labs that the non-profit will be launching to scale urban solutions. Membership in the Lab is available to cities and to private-sector corporations. Members gain access to cutting-edge solutions to urban problems, access to working teams located at the Lab, as well as the right to make selective investments in projects as they scale up and out of the Lab to go to market.

Learn more about Superpublic: and on Facebook and Twitter @SuperpublicSF #SuperpublicSF

Superpublic FAQs:

About City Innovate Foundation: City Innovate Foundation solves urban problems using open innovation and public private partnerships. Founded in 2014 by Kamran Saddique (CEO) and San Francisco entrepreneur & civic innovator Peter Hirshberg (Chairman City Innovate Foundation, Chairman Gray Area Foundation for the arts) we are an international convener, technology accelerator, and forger of public-private-partnerships to solve urban problems in cities using open innovation. We partner with civic leaders, academic institutions, non-profits, startups and corporations to build innovative solutions, codify best practices, and bring them to our member cities to build upon. Learn more about City Innovate Foundation at

About San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation: Established with Mayor Edwin Lee’s appointment of the nation’s first Chief Innovation Officer in January 2012, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (MOCI) operates like a startup: agile, nimble, and constantly looking for opportunities to innovate. A small team with limited financial resources, our mode of operation is "platform-play." Leveraging best practices from the private sector, we work to open underutilized resources, modify policies, and create new partnerships that catalyze innovation.

About U.S. General Services Administration (GSA): The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is ¿an independent agency of the U.S. government whose mission is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people. The agency’s Public Buildings Service is one of the largest and most diversified public real estate organizations in the world. Its portfolio consists of 376.9 million rentable square feet in 8,721 active assets across the United States, in all 50 states, 6 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Join the conversation @USGSA #EconomicCatalyst #InnovateGov


Last Reviewed: 2019-06-02