City and SFU partner to develop innovative solutions to civic challenges

Last updated: March 17, 2022

The City of Burnaby and Simon Fraser University have initiated a partnership to create a Civic Innovation Lab, combining their expertise and resources in order to find fresh solutions to challenges and issues affecting cities.

“We are lucky to have SFU in Burnaby, and tapping into their academic expertise is a tremendous opportunity for the City to improve our efficiency and effectiveness, serve residents better and find new ways to tackle the stresses that affect cities everywhere,” said Mayor Mike Hurley. “I look forward to seeing this partnership develop and become a model that others may benefit from.”

At its March 7, 2022 meeting, City Council approved the staff recommendation to establish a formal research partnership and the City will now establish a legal, non-profit society jointly controlled by the City and SFU. Creating a non-profit society will make it possible to seek federal and/or provincial research grants available to support the work of the partnership.

The Civic Innovation Lab will enable the City to take advantage of leading-edge academic research, harnessing SFU’s strength in advancing research initiatives into practical solutions for real-world problems.

This project continues a well-established tradition of partnerships between the City and SFU, which includes the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing in 2019 and the more recently initiated Urban Resilient Futures Initiative – both joint ventures with the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

“From taking action against climate change to addressing reconciliation and equity, diversity and inclusion in a meaningful way, there are pressing challenges facing our cities today—challenges that SFU students and researchers are eager to tackle,” said SFU President Joy Johnson. “This partnership gives SFU an exciting opportunity to deepen our decades-long relationship with the City of Burnaby while upholding our commitments to knowledge mobilization and community engagement.”

The Civic Innovation Lab could deliver significant mutual benefits to both parties. This long-term partnership will also provide the City with a permanent research base to solidify its leadership role in sustainability, climate action, housing and other high value areas.

The benefits of this partnership would also extend to SFU students and researchers who benefit from the experience of applying their education and knowledge to the development of innovative solutions on the ground.

To initiate the project, the City and SFU will each dedicate one full-time staff member as well as funding for administrative support, office space and supplies. The City will dedicate space on the fourth floor at Christine Sinclair Community Centre for the project, but projects will take place in community as well as at the university.

Learn More: 
Civic Innovation Lab Society (City of Burnaby Staff Report)

Media Contacts:
Chris Bryan
Manager, Public Affairs
Public Affairs Office
604-570-3616 | [email protected]

Simon Fraser University
778-782-3210 | [email protected]

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