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CitizenLab

Citizen Engagement
eDemocracy platform that has helped 200+ public sector organisations connect with citizens to foster stronger communities

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CitizenLab

Citizen Engagement
eDemocracy platform that has helped 200+ public sector organisations connect with citizens to foster stronger communities

Summary

  • Founded in 2015
  • Total funding: £2.5 million
  • Latest funding round: Series A, £1.9 million
  • Investors include Cipal Schaubroeck, Inventures SA; grant from the Brussels region
  • Head office in Brussels with a presence in the UK, the US, and Chile
  • 35 FTEs
  • Key clients/partners: governments of Grand Paris Sud, Leuven, Bermuda, Seattle, Lancaster (Pennsylvania), the London Borough of Newham, and Chile's National Youth Institute
  • Key executives: Wietse Van Ransbeeck, CEO and Co-Founder, experience at the US State Department and German Marshall Fund; Aline Muylaert, Head of Government Success and Co-Founder: Koen Gremmelprez, CTO and Co-Founder: entrepreneur, data scientist

Profile

At a time when trust in government institutions is at an all time low, meaningful dialogue between citizens, the politicians who represent them, and civil servants, is critical. CitizenLab — a leader in the digital participation space — helps public servants better understand their communities, and enables citizens to make their voices heard.  CitizenLab bills itself as the “complete citizen participation platform.” It distills the participation process into three stages — Engage, Manage, and Decide — with tools to support each on its centralised platform. “Engage” tools enable users to launch different types of consultations, from open ideation to polling to participatory budgeting. “Manage” provides tools to track the status of participatory projects. “Decide” analytic tools can sort responses by demographic, score proposals by level of engagement, and classify feedback, helping users  to make quicker and well informed decisions. These tools integrate machine-learning algorithms that process text input from citizens. They turn unstructured data into easily digestible snippets of information, helping civil servants to understand their constituents.  CitizenLab’s platform is designed as a turnkey product for public servants interested in forging deeper connections with citizens. Already working in many markets, as interest in inclusive policymaking continues to grow (particularly at the local government level), CitizenLab’s platform should find plentiful ready audiences.

Plans

  • Go open source, which includes providing full transparency of their AI algorithms.
  • Increase their presence in new markets including France, the UK, the Netherlands, and the US.
  • Further develop insights feature, allowing governments to access passive participatory data from sources such as social media posts and news articles.

Who Should Speak To This Company


Public sector organisations seeking citizens’ input and ideas in decision-making processes.

Company In Action

Peñaloén, a Chilean commune in the province of Santiago, used CitizenLab to launch a participatory budget. In each neighbourhood, citizens could voice their opinions and vote on what they thought deserved municipal investment. Over 24,450 inhabitants (about 10% of Peñaloén’s total population) participated via the online platform, which complemented offline workshops. The winning ideas helped improve infrastructure and public spaces, focusing particularly on safety, accessibility and intergenerational integration. Screenshot of CitizenLab’s dashboard showing projects that citizens proposed.

StateUp View

Digital engagement and participation is one of the most crowded GovTech subsectors. However, CitizenLab stands out from the crowd. While other engagement-focused startups use AI, government clients will appreciate CitizenLab’s thoughtful approach to its NLP algorithm, including manual review of results.  CitizenLab also actively thinks about mitigating the risks involved in online participation, like bias. In a 2018 project with Youth4Climate, the platform displayed popular ideas first. Recognising that this approach risked reinforcing dominant propositions, they have since randomized the order in which ideas are displayed on project pages. CitizenLab is also well positioned for success because of its international footprint. Many startups in this subsector remain focused on a particular region. CitizenLab has significant traction in the EU but also works with over 150 public sector clients throughout the US, Latin America, and the Carribean. This diversity speaks to the platform’s adaptability, bringing value to governments with different needs and cultural norms.
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