Urban challenge by the World Economic Forum aims to activate innovation ecosystems in eight fast-growing cities
by SmartCitiesWorld news team | Published on 6 December 2021
Participating cities have designated neighbourhoods that will serve as urban testbeds for new businesses, products, and services that can improve the quality of life for local residents and mitigate social and environmental challenges.
It is partnering with Utopia, an urban innovation group focused on emergent cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and aims to activate an ecosystem of 800 innovative entrepreneurs, investors and mayors.
The participating cities are Bogotá (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lagos (Nigeria), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Jakarta (Indonesia) Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
The cities have designated neighbourhoods to serve as urban testbeds for new businesses, products and services that can improve quality of life for local residents and mitigate social and environmental challenges associated with rapid urbanisation.
Entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups with a presence in these eight locations are encouraged to apply by 22 January 2022. The winners will receive increased visibility, connection with investors, $25,000 in start-up resources and an opportunity to join the Technology Pioneers of the World Economic Forum.
Judges will come from around the world, including organisations such as Future Africa, Uber, Airbnb and Sidewalk Labs.
In collaboration with global design consultancy Ideo, start-up investor Urban Us and urban tech accelerator Urban-X, the challenge will be accompanied by a three-month programme of regular public events to build collective intelligence and bring together an imaginative community to explore urban futures. Winners will be announced in February 2022 with mayors participating.
“To revive the economy and accelerate sustainable urban development, we collaborate with multiple stakeholders and believe the Urban Innovation Challenge will nurture an urban innovation ecosystem that shapes Jakarta as a liveable city,” said Anies Rasyid Baswedan, governor of Jakarta.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, executive governor of Lagos, said the city “teems with innovative potential” largely driven by its youthful population and added: “Our participation in the Urban Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to harness this potential, which further underscores our commitment to enabling and empowering that spirit of innovation to create transformative value in one of the world’s densest urban landscapes.”
Jennifer Musisi, lawyer and public administrator in Kampala, is one of the judges: “So much of Africa’s urban growth is happening these next few decades. The Urban Innovation Challenge encourages young people all across the continent to help build the better futures of their cities.
“Governments can see entrepreneurs as key allies in tackling complex challenges, improving their cities for the many.”
Entrepreneurs can learn more and apply at urbanchallenge.co/
Photo from Unsplash of Jakarta (one of the eight cities in the challenge): https://unsplash.com/photos/AfRUQoGB12g