Civic Accelerator

IRIS R&D Group Inc. has been selected to tackle the City of Guelph’s road challenge!
They are an Ontario company that puts privacy front row of their business model with their iPORT ™ Dash cam. Their dash cam integrates AI technology to detect road deficiencies and collects actionable data to prioritize work in cities. Together, the City and the company push the iPORT ™ Dash cam technology to identify deficiencies that could open preventative maintenance opportunities and shift decisions that can prolong the lifecycle of the City’s roads.

Open Government, Open Innovation

The Civic Accelerator is a program that enables the City of Guelph to engage in open innovation with companies of all sizes, including entrepreneurs and startups, to create solutions that address complex municipal problems.

This solutions-oriented approach will benefit the operations of the City, the Guelph community as well as the companies and individuals who intend to commercialize the solutions developed in the Accelerator.

The opportunity

The Civic Accelerator program has the opportunity to benefit both the City and companies who participate in the open innovation process.

A prior participant of the Civic Accelerator program, AlertLabs, said the experience accelerated the development of their company by 1 to 2 years, and the work done with the City opened up new revenue sources that shifted their business model.

The Accelerator brings many exciting opportunities for the City, the municipal sector, and participating companies, including the opportunity to:

  • Access to the City of Guelph to carry out customer discovery as it relates to the challenge
  • Engage city staff in new approaches to their work that are anticipated to generate tangible results and build a sense of accomplishment and increased workplace satisfaction
  • Make City procurement more accessible to businesses of all sizes through an open innovation process
  • Help companies innovate and bring new products/services to market, driving local economic growth (civic tech is a $6.4-billion industry in the U.S.)
  • Create opportunities for new business models that benefit the City and its constituents
  • Test new ways of serving citizens better and delivering more value for each taxpayer dollar spent.

Upon acceptance to the program, to ensure companies of all sizes have the supports to make the open innovation process a success, based on interest, capacity, and needs, participants may also be provided with:

Potential outcomes

The City of Guelph is a unique community, but increasingly the complex challenges the City experiences are shared across the municipal sector. Solutions developed as part of the Accelerator will have broader commercial potential to municipalities across Ontario, Canada and around the world. AlertLabs’ water monitoring sensor that was part of the Civic Accelerator, is currently in use in the City of London, the City of Vancouver, and the City of Niagara Falls.

Engaging in open innovation requires we properly define success and set expectations from the start to ensure root causes are addressed, but there are powerful outcomes from this approach, such as:

  • City managers and staff will gain a deeper understanding of a problem and learn about alternative approaches and ideas leading to a solution.
  • City staff will gain a clear line of sight to potential options – options may include continued interaction with the Solution Partner to further develop a solution, or the preparation of a detailed RFP that will produce the most appropriate, most cost-effective solution.
  • As “Solution Partners”, the companies will benefit from extensive access to City staff. As a result, the Solution Partners gain a detailed understanding of the issue leading to fast prototyping and testing of their solution for commercial viability with potential sale to the City of Guelph as well as to other public- or private-sector customers.

Our research

What's in the MIX report
The City of Guelph, in collaboration with the MaRS Discovery District and the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, published What’s in the MIX: Challenges and Opportunities for Municipal Innovation Procurement. Read the full report, and learn more about our collaboration with the Brookfield Institute for Entrepreneurship + Innovation and the MaRS Discovery District for this report.

It is our commitment to share what insights surface in this work with the municipal sector. This report will help you:

  • Understand how governments and procurement experts are talking about innovation procurement across the globe; how it is being described in different sectors and how it is being applied in practice.
  • Glean insight into the opportunities and barriers faced by policymakers, academics, consultants, procurement experts, and companies that are working to make innovation procurement more effective.


The Civic Accelerator was developed in conjunction with the Guelph Lab, the City of Guelph’s civic innovation partnership with the University of Guelph. The Accelerator pilot benefitted from partnerships with Innovation Guelph, the Guelph Chamber of CommerceCanada’s Open Data Exchange and the U of G’s Centre for Business and Student Entrepreneurship (CBaSE).

Over the last year, we have been working on the future of the Civic Accelerator by refining our model with the help of the Guelph Lab and Innovation Guelph, as well as Municipal Innovation Exchange partner MaRS Discovery District and the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship. Through our Municipal Innovation Exchange program, the City of Guelph is assisting the City of Barrie and the City of London to launch their own challenges.

For more information

If you would like to learn more about the Civic Accelerator program reach out to:

Jennifer Smith
Manager, Corporate and Community Strategic Initiatives
Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Services, Office of the CAO
519-822-1260 extension 2120
[email protected]