NSW to launch $3 million smart city innovation challenges

Brandon How

Businesses in the startup and emerging tech sectors are being invited by the New South Wales government to join its $3 million Smart City Innovation Challenges.

The first of three Innovation Challenges will be launched in April, with each challenge to award $1 million to a winner who will then partner with the state government.

Funding goes towards developing a proof of concept over 12 months which may be followed by further scale up or government procurement if successful. The winner will also be given access to subject matter experts to help improve their proposed projects.

Victor Dominello

Digital Government minister Victor Dominello said the New South Wales government was hoping to attract edge technology and data solution to community problems.

“With the rapid pace of technological change, we need a fresh approach. We want to make sure we target new and emerging solutions and support our strong and growing startup sector,” Minister Dominello said.

“Start-ups and the emerging tech sector are sometimes best placed to understand how technology can solve problems. They can bring fresh ideas to the table and by working together, we can develop solutions for these complex problems faced by communities.

“These challenges are the first of their kind in New South Wales for smart cities. This is a great opportunity for the brightest minds to develop ideas to make life easier for people across the State.”

During each challenge, up to 10 proposals will be presented at a live pitch event. Following this, the three best proposals will receive $50,000 to conduct a feasibility study. Joint proposals are also eligible to apply.

Applications at each stage will be assessed by a panel which includes the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Investment NSW, and the state government’s agency partner overseeing the challenge. The second challenge will launch in July 2022 while the third challenge will launch in October 2022.

It is expected to take at least six months to progress from the initial pitch applications stage to the final selection of the winning proposal.

These challenges are funded through the $45 million Smart Places Acceleration Program, which sits within the larger Digital Restart Fund. The fund is Australia’s biggest digital infrastructure program with a total lifetime value of $2.1 billion. The state government launched the fund in 2020 to transform NSW into the “digital capital of the southern hemisphere” and added an additional $500 million in last year’s budget.

The New South Wales government also runs a Small Business Innovation Research innovation challenge, which also offers grants of $1 million to solve discreet government problems and the chance to land an agency or department as a customer.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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