7 - 29 - 2021 - Article
New Coalition Aims to Unlock the Full Potential Of Urban Innovation and Secure Federal Support for Cities
featured image
The Coalition for Urban Innovation seeks to ensure urban innovation is prioritized in infrastructure spending to make our cities and urban counties more sustainable and equitable

Washington, D.C., July 29, 2021 — More than a dozen founding organizations and advisors from the public, private and nonprofit sectors today announced the launch of the Coalition for Urban Innovation, a group dedicated to advancing federal policies that make our cities more sustainable and equitable through technology and innovation.


The Coalition for Urban Innovation will advocate for federal support to reimagine urban infrastructure, drive innovation and transform our communities as Congress and the Administration consider historic plans to invest in our infrastructure, expand clean energy and improve energy efficiency.


More than 8 in 10 Americans live in urban areas. Cities account for 90% of US GDP, and 75% of CO2 emissions. Yet the major systems cities and urban counties rely on to operate and deliver services have not changed since the Second World War.


The broad-based Coalition is advocating for prioritizing federal investments, coordination, research and technical support for urban innovation -- to modernize our cities, improve urban life, and to tackle major national priorities, including climate change and racial equity and inclusion.  Enhanced federal coordination of urban policy and investment in innovative urban systems will help unlock technical solutions that dramatically improve urban systems and advance core national aims of sustainability and equity.


The Coalition for Urban Innovation will harness the advocacy strength of a broad membership of individuals and organizations, including founding members:

  • Accelerator for America
  • American Planning Association
  • BlocPower
  • Comfy | Enlighted (a Siemens company)
  • Oonee
  • Replica
  • Sidewalk Labs
  • Smart Cities Council
  • SPUR
  • The Regional Plan Association
  • Urban Green Council
  • Via Transportation

Advisory Board members include (Organizations listed for identification purposes):

  • Rohit Aggarwala - Executive in Residence, Closed Loop Partners; Senior Fellow, Cornell Tech
  • Story Bellows - Partner, CityFi
  • Richard Florida - Urbanist, Professor University of Toronto, Author Rise of the Creative Class
  • Mark Gorenberg - Managing Director, Zetta Venture Partners
  • Kiran Jain - General Counsel, Replica
  • Bruce Katz - Director, Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Drexel University
  • Shabazz Stuart - Founder and CEO, Oonee; Board member, StreetsPac

“Achieving the nation’s climate and infrastructure goals will be impossible without targeted investments in low income communities. Existing buildings are the largest contributor to our cities’ carbon footprint, and huge swaths of residents in these communities are without the tools to participate in the 21st Century economy. By accelerating the move to electrification and investing in digital equity, Congress can both create jobs and take needed action to stop climate change. We are thrilled to join the Coalition for Urban Innovation, an important new voice in the infrastructure debate,” said Glenn Schatz, CRO of BlocPower.


“Innovation abounds right now -- we are having conversations in cities about mobility and streets we haven’t had for generations. However, much of the urban infrastructure cities rely on to deliver services and advance policy goals have remained stagnant for over 50 years. The Coalition for Urban Innovation is calling for support and presenting a vision to our government for how technology can be used to provide benefits for everyone,” said Shabazz Stuart, Founder and CEO of Oonee.


“We are at a remarkable moment where cities are growing and prospering, thanks in part to technology, even as income inequality and climate change continue to be major challenges,” said Tom Wright, President and CEO, Regional Plan Association. “Coming up with innovative, creative ways to solve these long-standing problems will help ensure we leave this pandemic stronger than when we entered it. Regional Plan Association is excited to be part of this collaboration to bring the best ideas forward to improve cities for everyone.”


“Cities are amazing, complex and interdependent systems that, today, are evolving faster than ever before. In order to adapt to our rapidly-changing urban environments in a way that meets the urgent needs of the day while safeguarding our future, the advancement of new technologies and innovation for the built world will be critical. We’re thrilled to join the Coalition for Urban Innovation and help bring these important technologies to fruition,” said Nick Bowden, CEO of Replica.


“Sidewalk Labs is proud to be a founding member of the Coalition for Urban Innovation, which will advance a critical generational opportunity to tackle core national priorities, from climate change to equity and economic growth, by prioritizing new ideas in our cities. We will coalesce our expertise and influence to make sure that focused investments and policies to promote and support the development and integration of urban technologies are not pushed to the periphery of the infrastructure debate,” said Daniel Doctoroff, CEO & Founder of Sidewalk Labs.


"New innovations and ideas can help make cities more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous.  Washington has a unique opportunity not just to fund needed infrastructure but to accelerate new solutions to the problems facing American cities. We are proud to join the Coalition for Urban Innovation, a much-needed voice in the current infrastructure debate," said Nick Josefowitz, Chief Policy Officer at SPUR.


“Cities must be the engines of a just, low-carbon and healthy future. Urban Green is proud to join other founding members of the Coalition to advance that vision with federal policies that catalyze investment and innovation in our urban infrastructure,” said John Mandyck, CEO of Urban Green Council.


“City officials around the world are working to address the interrelated challenges of resiliency, equity, and accessibility.  As we start down the road to recovery from Covid and attempt to manage the climate crisis, there is an urgency to reimagine city life. The Coalition for Urban Innovation will help build broad support for the people developing solutions for more vibrant cities, and a regenerative and inclusive economy,” said Micah Kotch, Managing Director of URBAN-X.


"Transit agencies and cities across the country are doing incredible work at the local level to improve mobility and increase equity through the use of technology, from launching on-demand transit services to better connect residents in historically underserved areas to jobs, to improving paratransit for those with disabilities, to optimizing school bus transportation for students.  The federal government has a unique opportunity to accelerate new technology and innovations that advance access, equity, and sustainability, and we are proud to be a part of this new Coalition which will be a unique voice for creative solutions to challenges facing cities today" said Andrei Greenawalt, Via's Head of Public Policy.


“The Coalition will provide a unique voice in the infrastructure debate, calling not just for badly needed funding for cities and urban areas but also for mobilizing federal support for new innovations and technologies that will help tackle climate change and equity challenges,” said Richard Florida. “Addressing the climate crisis is impossible without making our cities more efficient and resilient, nor can we address rising inequality or accelerate economic mobility if our urban economic engines are not hitting on all cylinders or remain inaccessible.  The federal government has a key role to play in spurring new investments and innovations that can forge a better urban future for all.”


The Coalition for Urban Innovation is seeking federal investment in continued urban innovation that can keep American cities at the forefront of the global economy — and lead the nation toward a more sustainable and equitable future. Businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in joining the Coalition for Urban Innovation and working alongside like-minded organizations and individuals can learn more here: coalitionforurbaninnovation.org or contact info@coalitionforurbaninnovation.org.