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Enabling Smart Cities in Brazil

Future Cities Catapult invites UK businesses with products and services that can provide or enable solutions to urban mobility issues to the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

Deadline for applications extended to Tuesday 6 December 2016.

Transporting half a million passengers each day, the most popular way to travel around Belo Horizonte is the bus system. This is a feeder and trunk Bus Rapid Transit system managed and operated by the transport authority of Belo Horizonte (BHTrans). Serving mainly Belo Horizonte neighbourhoods, the feeder bus system is operated by local bus companies.

As part of the Enabling Smart Cities in Brazil project, the Catapult has worked with both citizens who are using the system and local stakeholders, to identify and investigate the ‘bottlenecks’ they encounter when travelling by bus. The Catapult would like to share this knowledge with innovative and forward thinking businesses to enable business to consider how their solutions could address these and make a difference to the overall journey experience for Belo Horizonte citizens.

Belo Horizonte, having one of the most populous metropolitan areas in Brazil, has the third largest urban agglomeration in Brazil.  The demand for private transportation has doubled in the past ten years, making the city’s future urban mobility unsustainable. As a result, the city provides an ideal case study to demonstrate how smart solutions and technologies can be used to tackle the urban mobility challenges cities face.

The Project

Future Cities Catapult is working in close collaboration with our partner, WRI, a global research institute located in Brazil on the “Enabling Smart Cities In Brazil” project.  The project is aiming to understand issues around urban mobility and make recommendations to improve the lives of people living locally in the cities in which the Catapult are working.  In order to do this we are working together with the local governmental body responsible for public transportation in the metropolitan area of  Belo Horizonte, BHTrans.

Aim of the Open Call

The vision of this project is to find and showcase solutions from UK businesses that can help enhance and improve the end-to-end user journey experience of Belo Horizonte bus services. Through this project we would like to enhance the profile, visibility and outreach of UK business both in UK and in Brazil. The Catapult will consider a diverse range of solutions that may address the challenges stated below faced within Belo Horizonte, ranging from physical assets to innovative strategies.

Open Call “Clinic” Event

If you are interested in applying, we recommend you save the date to attend our Open Call Clinic on November 18th, 11:30-13:00 at the Urban Innovation Centre in Farringdon, London. At this event the Catapult will explain in the background to the open call challenges and answer your questions regarding the competition and application process. This will also be a great chance to meet other businesses, who might wish to collaborate or offer assistance as part of a proposal.


Registration for the Open Call Clinic is accessible here.


The Catapult has identified some key challenge areas via its qualitative and quantitative research with BHtrans officials and people who use public transport. These challenges spanned across all phases of people’s reaching and engaging with the public transportation system. The Catapult is excited to hear about new designs, methods, apps, products or services which might address one or more of these challenge areas in new and innovative ways. The Catapult would also welcome integrated approaches that could provide solutions to the challenges in a seamless way.

Improving People’s Commuting Experience

For the Belo Horizonte citizen, commuting from the outskirts of the city to the city center is a time consuming process. People have to use local buses to get to BRT stations where they can continue their journey. Increased traffic on the streets together with unexpected events, such as traffic accidents or bad weather severely degrade the punctuality and regularity of the flow of buses, and this results in overcrowding and increased waiting times at the bus stops. People generally agree that the latter problem is more prominent on feeder buses.

How might we improve the capability of the bus system to cope with such disruptions? How can we regulate bus occupancy? How can we efficiently transport people to the BRT stations?

Communicating Information to People

People feel that there is not sufficient information about many aspects of the bus service. Such aspects include real-time information on arrival times, bus operational status as well as bus occupancy levels. Although Belo Horizonte has its own Intelligent Transportation System, the added value it provides is not reaching people in an efficient way. Lack of information and insufficient signage is also evident inside key stations such as São Gabriel.

Can we come up with ways that enable relevant information to reach the citizens?

Idle time as opportunity

Waiting at the bus stops for boarding or alighting can take up to a fifth of the total journey by bus for many Belo Horizonte citizens, which experience this as “dead time”.  The current infrastructure at key bus stations such as São Gabriel is insufficient for making this time a more pleasant and useful experience.

How might we enable passengers to pass their idle time in a more useful way?

The Prize


Engage with a Brazilian Delegation during an event at Future Cities Catapult on the 9th of December 2016. The delegation will include senior level officials from different cities across Brazil as well as BHTrans leaders.  You will have the opportunity to present and showcase your winning application to these stakeholders.

Invitation to our 3rd Thursday Networking Events. During the event mingle with a wide range of influencers and market players in urban mobility, architecture, urbanism, technology and the built environment.

Participate in our Showcase Event featuring all the successful applicants and demonstrating your innovations to the network of Future Cities Catapult and beyond.



Future Cities Catapult will be providing up to a total of £37,500 to cover overheads and other related costs for further developing the products, services or strategies that can improve urban mobility of the bus system in the city of Belo Horizonte (BH) in Brazil. Up to three collaboration contracts will be awarded to UK businesses whose proposals are selected during this competition up to a maximum value of £12,500.


You will need to cover the deployment costs. Demonstrating your solutions in situ is supported and encouraged by Future Cities Catapult and we would work with BHTrans and the successful applicants to explore the opportunities around this.

It is important to note that Future Cities Catapult cannot offer or guarantee a business contract with BHTrans to winning businesses. However, to support your solutions, Future Cities Catapult can also provide: further insights on the user’s experience and key transport related data (e.g. access to Belo Horizonte Intelligent Transportation System)

To Apply

Businesses interested in entering the competition are required to complete a short on-line questionnaire before 6 December 2016 at 5 pm.


More information about Application Instructions. 

More information about our Evaluation Criteria. 

For more information or further communication please contact brazil@futurecities.catapult.org.uk.

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