A shortlist of Creative Councils has been announced by endowment fund NESTA and the Local Government Association.
The 17 local authorities to make it through the first round of the programme - designed to support the delivery of “radical innovations” - will be whittled down to five in the autumn.
The final group are set to receive two years of financial and non-financial support to put their ideas into practice.
A third of English and Welsh local authorities responded to the call for “pioneering” plans for future working and submitted proposals covering areas including ageing populations, helping people into work and coping with increasing demand for social services.
Phillip Colligan, executive director of NESTA’s public services lab, said: “We have been delighted with the response, which shows that councils have the appetite and ideas for transformational new ways of rapidly meeting changing needs”.
Peter Fleming (Con), chair of Local Government Group’s improvement board, said every application had contained “fresh and exciting ideas” but the 17 selected had the most potential for improving services and reducing costs.
“Local authorities have a proven track record as the most innovative and progressive part of the public sector,” he added.
“As a sector we need to carry forward our history of innovation. It is clear that with less money from the centre, councils will have to find new ways of working and delivering services. Innovation comes from sharing and testing your ideas with others.”
Summaries of all the 137 applications have been published online in an attempt to share the programme’s work with as many people as possible.
Phillip Colligan, executive director of NESTA’s public services lab, said: “The success of this programme relies on giving these ideas life beyond their immediate areas. We are determined that Creative Councils will not only benefit those areas that we work with directly but will be a source of inspiration and cold hard knowledge that will benefit local government right across the country.”
The shortlisted councils are: Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent and Westminster City Councils, City of York Council, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Essex and Monmouthshire CCs, Cornwall Council, Havering and Islington LBCs, Reading and Rossendale BCs, Rotherham and Wigan MBCs.