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CityX: ideas into action

Innovation Challenge

Discover if you're a business or organisation that has what it takes to bring the best and brightest ideas to life through an Innovation Challenge; delivering better cities for those who live and work there.

We’re working with UK SMEs and the public sector to make our cities better to live and work in.

Innovation Challenges (run by the Catapult and our partners) identify areas where city life can be improved through in-depth research and observations. From this initial work, the opportunities and scope for developing and deploying new ideas and technologies emerge.

Once challenges are defined, businesses can respond to these opportunities through an open call. Here they can present their proposals for tackling the challenges. A number of innovative UK businesses are then selected to test, demonstrate and pilot their technologies on a real-life challenge in a city environment.

The Catapult runs several Innovation Challenges every year.

Read our tips for what to think about when applying and taking part in an Innovation Challenge.

Innovation Challenge in East London

One Innovation Challenge took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. Facilitated by the Catapult, four UK SMEs developed and tested new technologies to deliver better living and working spaces in the Park.


More about the Innovation Challenge in the Olympic Park


If you’re a small or medium sized enterprise interested in developing products or services in the Advance Urban Services sector, arrange to speak to a member of our SME development team to hear about opportunities and get advice.

If you’re a council or city authority interested in finding out whether an Innovation Challenge might help you to solve an urban challenge get in touch with us.



Tips for taking part in an Innovation Challenge

If you’re a small or medium sized business and want to get involved in an Innovation Challenge, there are some things that it might be helpful to bear in mind.

When applying to take part in an Innovation Challenge:

  • Really understand the problem the challenge is trying to solve, who the end user is and how your solutions tackle this precise challenge. The solutions chosen for development address real rather than imagined issues.
  • Don’t end up in the wrong challenge; take time to review what is being asked and thoroughly assess if you are right for it before entering.
  • Look at the challenge timeline, which is usually outlined in the challenge brief, and make sure that you have the resources and flexibility to deliver against it.

When presenting your idea:

  • If you’re called in to present your idea then make sure your pitch is concise, you have a clear vision and have thought through outcomes aligned to the challenge objectives.
  • Be honest and open about what stage your innovation or idea is at when you take part in the challenge. Sometimes it’s not the most developed ideas that win but those that are truly visionary and innovative in how they have addressed the challenge.

When taking part in the challenge:

  • If you’re taking part in the challenge, have an open and collaborative mindset; as this is an experimental innovation process, you have to be flexible and adaptable at all times.
  • Understand the roles of the different stakeholders in the challenge and work closely with the Catapult who’ll help you navigate the sometimes complex relationships.

Get in touch with us to learn more about Innovation Challenges.

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