Reimagining the City Challenge

We’re inviting all eligible entrepreneurs, individuals, universities, researchers, startup, scaleups and established organisations to submit their pitches on how they might contribute to bringing life back into the city.

Testbed challenge:

How might we reimagine experiences, spaces and places so that they are vibrant and inclusive, promoting social connection and creating new reasons to live, work and play in Melbourne?

We are looking for submissions that:

  • Simultaneously address the challenge statement and a problem or opportunity in Melbourne.
  • Are new and exciting and may not have been trialled before in Melbourne, Australia or the world.
  • Are proactive solutions that utilise tech and data and have the ability to deliver results within 12 months.

What’s in it for you?

  • A pool of up to $180K available for a maximum of 4 successfully selected submissions.
  • Support opportunities available to assist in developing your submissions.
  • A chance to be involved in a world leading smart city initiative.

Challenge overview

Melbourne is a dynamic city constantly seeking innovative ways to anticipate and meet the changing needs of the community, the economy and the environment. Before COVID-19, the City of Melbourne experienced nearly one million people living, working, studying and visiting the central city district every day. It also had Australia’s fastest growing night time economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the most significant public health and economic challenge Melbourne has faced in over a century. The full extent of these impacts are unknown and will depend on behaviour changes – both temporary and permanent – that arise from our experience with the virus. The pandemic also created opportunities to reconsider assumptions about the way things are done and to reimagine and explore innovative alternatives and approaches.

In September 2020, Council endorsed the City of Melbourne’s COVID-19 Recovery and Reactivation Plan. The plan connects our immediate response to the crisis with our city’s longer term regeneration and it is expected to continue to be iterated and act as a guide to achieving our future aspirations.

Through this work a number of aspirations for our 'city of the future' were identified. In the future, Melbourne…

  • Is healthy and safe
  • Supports businesses, entrepreneurs and creatives to prosper in an ever-changing environment
  • Draws people to it with vibrancy, activity, open space and amenity
  • Leads in technology, digital and data provision
  • Deeply involves the community as it recovers and evolves
  • Is inclusive, accessible and affordable
  • Stimulates collective action on climate change

City of Melbourne’s Emerging Technology Testbed, provides the partnerships, processes and digital and physical spaces to reimagine what Melbourne could be by leveraging these values whilst considering current context and longer term strategic objectives

We are looking for proactive solutions that bring life back into the city in a way that considers the seven aspirational values of a future Melbourne with the ability to deliver results within 12 months.

All eligible groups and individuals who apply agree to become Testbed partners when they submit their EOIs for Testbed Challenges.

We will look favourably on submissions that include two or more organisations - please consider partnerships with organisations from multiple sectors, including the creative and technology industries.

Detail that must be included in your submission:

Describe your solution and

  • what problem or opportunity in Melbourne is your submission addressing
  • how it will use digital technology and data to deliver results
  • how it includes the seven future aspirations for Melbourne

Example submissions

  • Reimagining a tour experience so that it uncovers the unexpected delights of Melbourne and provides new ways for visitors to connect
  • Reimagining a workplace with new technology enabled ways of working so that it creates accessibility for all workers
  • Reimaging how green space is incorporated into heavily urbanised areas so that residents can reap the benefits of being in nature

Note: These are all examples to help shape your thinking, we encourage you to think outside these examples.

Financial Support

There will be a pool of up to $180K available for a maximum of four successfully selected submissions.

Dependent on the detail of the submission - there is a maximum of $25K inc. GST able to be provided per partner, per submission.

Non-Financial Support

  • Partner Mixer

On 4 February we held an event for individuals and companies who might not usually work together to meet each other and consider submitting together for the next testbed challenge.

You can access a recorded version of the information section of the session. In the session we refer to some slides, which can be also be accessed.

Submissions and pitches that include one or more companies will be looked upon favourably.

  • Meetup with a mentor

Have questions about your submission? You can book a session of 30 minutes with a City of Melbourne Mentor to go through your submission. (For fairness, there is a limit of one per submission).

  • Support with physical location

If you have a particular location in mind, please contact us to determine availability and support before submitting. We may be able to provide some support for shop front, park and on-street locations.

  1. Latest Testbed Challenges released and EOI open: December 23 2020
  2. Partner Mixer: February 4 2021
  3. Meetup with a mentor: January 18 to February 12 2021
  4. EOI Closed: 11:59PM February 19 2021
  5. Finalists notified: February 26 2021
  6. Finalists Solution Pitches Live Streamed and available to vote on: March 18 2021
  7. Pitches available for voting: March 18 to March 31 2021
  8. The 4 top solutions notified and announced as pilots: April 2021
  9. Regular monthly opportunities to get an update on pilots: On a monthly basis

Judging Criteria

The judging panel includes representatives from the City of Melbourne and the competition’s partner organisations. The panel will evaluate submissions based on the following seven criteria:

  1. Universal Access - the extent to which it demonstrates universal accessibility (considering ability, location, education, finances, languages spoken, gender, sexuality, religion, age etc.)
  2. Trust and Transparency - the extent to which the end-to-end solution considers trust and transparency
  3. Innovation – the extent to which the submission is unique to, or adds value to, existing solutions.
  4. Impact – the extent to which the submission demonstrates the potential to effect change.
  5. Scalability – the extent to which the submission can scale, including the appeal it has to secure buy-in and/or a wide consumer base.
  6. Technically and conceptually sound – the extent to which the submission addresses the brief. Namely, the concerns and needs of our community (city workers, visitors and residents) and/or how it is supported by data or other evidence.
  7. Feasibility – the ease with which the submission can translate into a sustainable and cost effective operating model.

Judging Process of Submissions and Pitches

  1. There will be an initial assessment round, to determine submission eligibility. Pending number of applications, submissions may be shortlisted before progressing to live pitch round.
  2. All eligible submissions will be required to pitch via live-stream in 7 minutes.
  3. Based on these pitches, a panel of judges from local and state government, community organisations, traditional land owners and independent experts will vote using the judging criteria - comprising 80% of each pitch’s score.
  4. Everyday community members will also be able to vote on their favourite pilot on the day of streaming and for two weeks after pitching is finished - comprising 20% of each pitch’s score.
  5. All scores will be made public.

You must identify as one or more of the following:

  • Entrepreneur/Individual
  • University/Researcher
  • Startup (a newly established business with growth potential and attractive to investors.)
  • Scaleup (a business that is in the process of expanding and entering new markets.)
  • Established Organisation (a recognised and organized group of people with a particular purpose, such as a business, not-for-profit, social enterprise or government department.)
  • A combination of the above

Please indicate at which stage of development your submission is:

  • Early viable product phase - a prototype exists and has been demonstrated 3+ times
  • Alpha/Beta product - established product ready for beta testing before entering market
  • Solution is an iteration or new application of an existing product

City of Melbourne is helping companies and individuals team up to solve problems that address the Reimagining the City Challenge.

Share your details and browse potential partnerships on the Partnerships page.

See the top pitches

Learn about the creative solutions that will reimagine Melbourne.