Nineteen City of Philadelphia employees are going back to school for innovation.
It’s the first cohort of the city’s “Innovation Academy,” a partnership with Philadelphia University. The seven-week course aims to teach staffers the principles of innovation, like design thinking and problem-solving with analytics, GovTech first reported.
The Academy course is based off the innovation-focused curriculum that the East Falls-based university teaches its undergraduates but is specifically tailored for the city government students, said Andrew Buss, the Office of Innovation and Technology staffer in charge of the city’s innovation efforts (and one of the Innovation Academy students).
The Academy spans several different city agencies, with students from departments like the Office of Innovation and Technology, the Fleet Department, the Managing Director’s Office, the Commerce Department and Parks and Recreation.
The city hopes to hold an academy each year, so more and more employees can get the training, Buss said, adding that the city is paying about $40,000 to send the employees to the course, Buss said.
This is just one arm of the city’s innovation efforts, said Buss, which also include opening an innovation lab in the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall.
The move isn’t surprising, given the Nutter administration’s focus on efforts like The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, whose stated goal was to make City Hall more like a startup — fail fast, for example. Be nimble. This seems like a way to institutionalize that spirit and bring it into the different corners of city government.