Nitrous joins Global Innovation Collaborative to speed economic recovery in the cultural and creative industries


We are excited to share Nitrous’s work on the Creative Cities Challenge by the Global Innovation Collaborative (GIC).

The GIC is a partnership between the cities of London, Berlin, New York and Paris, Nitrous, Bloomberg Associates and Microsoft in Government to speed economic recovery in the cultural and creative sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.




June 1, 2021 – Today, the Global Innovation Collaborative (GIC) announced the launch of its Creative Cities Challenge to speed economic recovery in the cultural and creative sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GIC is a partnership between the Cities of Berlin, London, New York City and Paris, along with Bloomberg Associates, Nitrous and Microsoft. The GIC is looking for long-term, sustainable and equitable solutions that will support these critical sectors rebound from the pandemic.

The creative and cultural sectors have long represented the DNA and economic engines of cities, and in the early days of the pandemic, it was one of the first to shut down. The GIC is inviting innovators and entrepreneurs across digital, technology and financial industries from the four cities to submit ideas that will help restore each city’s culture, identity and economy.

The goal of this challenge is to find functional solutions that will drive economic growth as well as meet and address new public health, legal, technological and social challenges caused by the pandemic. The challenge will act as a blueprint for other cities around the world to address their own recovery efforts.

The proposal should focus on how cities can rebuild their culture and creative sectors so they can be more prosperous, sustainable, and equitable for all. Winning proposals will:

  • Reimagine systems—which may include new technological platforms, digital tools, in-person or virtual gatherings, markets, or festivals—to ensure creative individuals, industries, and activities can be connected, made financially sustainable, and thrive as a critical part of each cities’ cultural landscape; or
  • Help small and independent businesses in the creative economy to adapt quickly to changing community needs and consumer behavior.

All proposals must also address environmental sustainability concerns and advance social equity in these sectors. Submissions must be made online through, and must be completed by 23:59 BST on July 20, 2021. Submissions will be evaluated by an international jury of city and industry leaders on the maturity of the concept and evidence of success in early pilots. At least two finalists from each city will be selected on September 8, 2021 and will be provided with support to further develop, validate and trial their solutions in urban testbed environments alongside city partners. One winner from each city will be announced by the GIC in December 2021, and their solutions will be promoted by the Cities and founding partners.

These efforts are supported by strategic partners who provide in-kind assistance, knowledge, expertise and access to testbeds to the Cities and innovators who participate in the challenge. The founding partners include Bloomberg Associates, Mike Bloomberg’s pro-bono, municipal consulting service; Nitrous, an urban impact business; and supported by challenge partners University College London and Microsoft.

More information on the competition can be found here:  

Please direct all inquiries regarding this open call to [email protected]  


Dr. Stefan Franzke, CEO, Berlin Partner for Business and Technology, said: “Berlin’s economy is inconceivable without its culture. This is another reason why the Global Innovation Collaborative is sending the right signals: Together we are stronger. Jointly with our friends in London, New York and Paris, including also Kulturprojekte Berlin and visitBerlin, we are looking for innovative ideas for the unique creative landscape of our capital. Culture belongs to Berlin like the Brandenburg Gate and the television tower. I am grateful that we tackle these challenges together with our partner cities and I am sure that something good will come of it. The way out of the pandemic is not a ‘back to square one’: We want to be better, happier, more colorful and more creative than before.”


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is home to some of the world’s most dynamic innovators and entrepreneurs. Through this exciting new partnership with other world cities I’m confident we will be able to harness their creativity and help those sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – such as arts and culture – adapt and thrive as we emerge from lockdown and into our economic recovery.”


Rachel Loeb, President and CEO, New York City Economic Development Corporation said: “New York City is home to some of the world’s most iconic arts institutions. Supporting our cultural and creative sectors is essential to restoring jobs and reopening our businesses. We are proud to join the Global Innovation Collaborative to work with our partner cities and launch the Creative Cities Challenge. We look forward to bringing the creative industry back to life.”


Todd Asher, Media and Digital Strategies Lead at Bloomberg Associates said: “Cities collaborating and sharing best practices is at the heart of what we do. We are extremely excited to be part of this important and impactful effort. We look forward to seeing the innovations created in London, Paris, Berlin and New York as well as helping to bring these solutions to cities around the world.”


George Johnston, Founder and CEO, Nitrous, said: “We believe that true civic innovation occurs when we bring together the public and private sectors to collaborate. We’re thrilled to be part of this vital initiative and look forward to supporting solutions to rebuild the world-leading creative economies in our four global cities, and beyond.”


Clare Barclay, CEO Microsoft UK, said: “Technology has the potential to vastly transform cities, with data and analytics to improve decision making and collaboration across industries. We look forward to working closely with entrepreneurs and innovators to re-imagine the future of London through the Creative Cities Challenge.”


Prof. Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett, University College London, said: “Creativity, culture, and nightlife are all vital to the future of cities, and global collaboration is the best way to build that future.”


The Global Innovation Collaborative (GIC), launched by the Cities of Berlin, London, New York and Paris in March 2021, is a network of partners developing and championing long-term, sustainable and equitable solutions to support the cities’ economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Supported by Bloomberg Associates, Nitrous and Microsoft, GIC leverages the knowledge, skills and ingenuity of its residents to create new tools, systems and approaches that reignite and strengthen each of their cities. For more information on the Global Innovation Collaborative, please visit


Bloomberg Associates is the philanthropic consulting arm of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Founded in 2014, we work side by side with client cities to improve the quality of life for residents, taking a strategic, collaborative and results-oriented approach to making cities stronger, safer, more equitable and efficient. Our team of globally recognized experts and industry leaders has worked with cities across the globe on hundreds of projects in order to ignite change and transform dynamic vision into reality. For more information on the consultancy, please visit or follow us on Twitter @Bloombergassoc.


Nitrous is the leading impact business working with global cities to address key economic development challenges through the use of urban innovation. Headquartered in London, Nitrous works with over 100 municipalities around the world to help cities become more innovative, resilient and collaborative places. To learn more about us please visit our site


Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.


New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Berlin Partner for Business and Technology is Berlin’s service provider for growth and innovation. Berlin Partner supports companies and investors as they move to Berlin and in their development at the location. The experts at Berlin Partner provide information on funding opportunities, advise in the search for suitable premises or qualified staff, and create networks with partners in the scientific community. The state of Berlin and more than 230 companies dedicated to the promotion of their city stand behind Berlin Partner for Business and Technology as a unique public-private partnership. Berlin Partner is also responsible for marketing the German capital worldwide. Please also visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIN.


The Bartlett is University College London’s global Faculty of the Built Environment. It is made up of 12 Schools, Centres and Institutes, providing teaching and research across a breadth of disciplines to over 4,000 students each year from across the world. Individually, our schools and sections lead their fields. In partnership, they develop new responses to pressing world issues. As a whole, they represent a world-leading, multidisciplinary Faculty, united by the radical spirit of University College London. Our vision is of a world where everything that’s built aims to add to the well-being of people and the environment. | Twitter: @BartlettUCL | Instagram: @bartlett_ucl