UCalgary students and educators, community change-makers, innovators, and City of Calgary leaders came together for a night of lively discussion on Feb. 9 as The City launched its Civic Innovation YYC initiative.
Civic Innovation YYC is focused on innovation — encouraging and facilitating a culture where finding better, easier ways of doing things is explored and celebrated. The goal of this initiative is to help make government more open, innovative and transparent by collaborating with citizens, businesses and stakeholders on new ideas that can improve city services. It is hoped that Civic Innovation YYC will also make life better every day for Calgarians.
The university was pleased to host the event at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning — a particularly appropriate venue, given the Taylor Institute is an excellent example of innovation in post-secondary education. The Taylor brings together teaching development, teaching and learning research, and undergraduate inquiry, all under one roof.
Collaboration, innovation contribute to a great partnership
“The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary are great partners, working together on multiple fronts to help foster an outstanding community through innovation, creativity and discovery,” says Diane Kenyon, vice-president of University Relations. “We were thrilled to host the launch of Civic Innovation YYC at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning — an amazing centre of innovative education in Canada — and to see so many people come together with energy and enthusiasm, as engaged citizens, freely sharing their ideas on how to make our city an even better place to live and work.”
Innovation and collaboration with community partners are two key components of the university’s Eyes High strategic direction, and UCalgary is committed to being a global intellectual hub for the community in Canada’s most enterprising city. Working with community partners such as The City of Calgary allows the university to innovate by testing new ideas that provide solutions to local issues and challenges.
“The City realizes that Calgarians want to do more to contribute to local government than just vote,” says city manager Jeff Fielding. “Civic Innovation YYC has been designed to make it easier for creative and talented innovators to share their ideas and work alongside The City to turn those ideas into action.”
Workshops delve into government changes and citizen opportunities
More than 130 UCalgary students, faculty and staff took part in the discussion and workshop with panellists from public and private sector areas including post-secondary education, telecommunications, energy, finance, and civic government. The event was facilitated by UCalgary alumnus Andrew Phung, BA Econ’06, a Calgary-born actor, writer and current cast member (Kimchee) on CBC’s hit television show Kim’s Convenience.
The main points of discussion at the event were about how Calgary might change and open up opportunities for citizens in the future as the city becomes more open to innovation and new ideas; and ways that government can be more open and transparent.
The Civic Innovation YYC platform is an online channel for citizens to submit an idea to a current challenge the city is facing, allowing people to explore the opportunities together and test the idea with support from government. This initiative also provides a physical innovation lab space — called the Civic Innovation Lab at City Hall. It’s described as a place for rapid experimentation, allowing for quick learning about what works, what doesn’t, and then sharing lessons learned.