This Belgian startup brings civic engagement into the digital age: 4 things you need to know

This Belgian startup brings civic engagement into the digital age: 4 things you need to know

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As a citizen of our country, we all love the place we live. We want our community to develop for good and be a place that gives us a sense of pride. This can be best achieved by fostering government-citizens collaboration – Civic Engagement.

If you are unaware, civic engagement is the process of civic participation where the community strives together to make a difference in the life of their community. In this case, technology plays an important role by enabling citizens to make their voices heard in new and innovative ways

Social media is proving to be a major platform for civic engagement, where local governments are seizing this opportunity to enhance citizen engagement in political and social affairs.

Meet CitizenLab!

Founded by Aline Muylaert, Koen Gremmelprez and Wietse Van Ransbeeck in 2015, CitizenLab is a civic engagement platform on which citizens co-create their city. The platform facilitates two-way communication between the city and its citizens.

Recently, the Belgian startup CitizenLab has raised €2 million led by Inventures and Cipal-Schaubroeck. The Brussels investment fund GIMB and the bank ING have also made their contribution through a loan.

“The founders have a clear vision on how to make public decision-making more participatory and inclusive. The impact potential of CitizenLab is enormous,” says Olivier de Duve, CEO Inventures.

Aims to improve efficiency and legitimacy!

CitizenLab aims to help governments improve the efficiency and legitimacy of their decision-making by developing citizen participation. Since it was launched in 2015, the company has worked with over 100 cities and municipalities from Brussels to Vancouver.

For the uninitiated, the platform features a set of participatory tools allowing cities and municipalities to easily set up consultation processes.

Citizens can make their voices heard by submitting and discussing ideas, by voting on budgets, or by starting their initiatives to help determine the political agenda. In less than three years, more than 100 cities and municipalities have already made use of the CitizenLab software.

Natural Language Processing technology!

CitizenLab is planning to invest part of the funds in developing new product modules to inform citizens about local policy. In addition to it, the company is planning to invest in Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology.

“As social entrepreneurs, we look not only at our financial growth but at least as much at the social impact,” says Wietse Van Ransbeeck, CEO of CitizenLab.

Based out of Brussels, CitizenLab has been developing artificial intelligence to help governments turn unstructured citizen input into actionable insights.

300 cities and municipalities!

While the majority of customers come from Belgium, the platform is also active in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Chile, among others. The financial injection will be also used to accelerate the expansion in these international markets as well.

By next year, CitizenLab is aiming to implement its platform in as many as 300 cities and municipalities. At present, the civic engagement platform employs around 15 people. Furthermore, the platform is planning to double its team size in the coming year as well.

Nico Cras, CEO of Cipal-Schaubroeck, said:

There are many links between the CitizenLab’s participation platform and Cipal-Schaubroeck’s IT systems. We want to develop synergies that make it easy for citizens’ proposals to find their way to the Mayor’s policy table.

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more updates in the tech startup world.

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