GovLab Blog

The GovLab and the Bertelsmann Foundation Launch People-Led Innovation Website

New Online Toolkit Allows City Policymakers to Leverage Their Most Valuable Asset

Today, The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at New York University Tandon School of Engineering and the Bertelsmann Foundation launched a new website to accompany an initiative that helps city governments innovate, address public challenges, and improve people’s lives. The People-Led Innovation toolkit provides city officials with targeted guidance for leveraging policymakers’ most valuable, but often overlooked, asset: people and their expertise.
The GovLab and the Bertelsmann Foundation are now actively seeking collaborations with city governments to implement and assess the effectiveness of People-Led Innovation.
“In the modern era of governance where municipalities increasingly face incredibly complex challenges, the need for innovation is clear,” said Jeffrey Brown, Manager of Future of Work & Artificial Intelligence at the Bertelsmann Foundation. “Cities need to go beyond providing innovative solutions – they also need to transform and modernize the way those solutions are developed.”
As part of the initiative, the Bertelsmann Foundation and The GovLab have developed a new website – – where public officials and other government stakeholders can find the targeted methodology, as well as additional tools and resources to inform citizen engagement efforts.
“The People-Led Innovation initiative is built on the idea that, as governments increasingly experiment with new means for drawing on the public’s knowledge and skills to address common challenges, one-size-fits-all citizen engagement efforts are often too broad and unwieldy to surface useful insights for city governments,” said Stefaan Verhulst, Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of The GovLab. “This new initiative provides city officials with a more strategic and actionable consideration of the most effective ways to engage the right people for the right task at the right time.”
The methodology is built on previous work undertaken at The GovLab (e.g., Civic Challenges and Smarter Crowdsourcing), and through the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transatlantic Policy Lab project. People-Led Innovation was also chosen as one of the winning projects showcased at the 2018 Paris Peace Forum, convened by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.
PLI screenshot
To learn more about People-Led Innovation and/or explore partnership on a people-led project in your city, visit
About The Governance Lab
The Governance Lab’s mission is to improve people’s lives by changing the way we govern. Our goal at The GovLab is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. For more information, visit The Governance Lab is based at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering.
About the Bertelsmann Foundation
The Bertelsmann Foundation (BFNA) is the North American arm of the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh, Germany. BFNA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, with a transatlantic perspective on global challenges.Through its research, debate forums, and multimedia tools, the Bertelsmann Foundation provides analysis and solutions to the most pressing economic, political, and social challenges impacting the United States and Europe. Learn more at or @BertelsmannFdn.