This year, the theme for the Open Innovation Competition is ‘city reactivation and recovery’ in a post COVID-19 world.

The Open Innovation Competition 2021 is focused on reinvigorating and reimagining Melbourne through creative, innovative and technology-enabled solutions.

Problem statement

This year's competition asks the question:
How might we bring vibrancy back into the city post COVID-19 by reimagining the way we live, connect, work and play in our city while enhancing the social, cultural, environmental and economic vitality of Melbourne?

Competition overview

This year’s Open Innovation Competition is motivated by The City of Melbourne’s COVID-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan: City of the future.

Melbourne prides itself on being 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 challenges 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. In addition, the pandemic has created opportunities to reconsider assumptions about the way things are done and to reimagine and explore innovative alternatives.

In September 2020, the City of the Future Task Force developed Melbourne’s Recovery and Reactivation Plan. The plan connects our immediate response to the crisis with our city’s longer term regeneration and acts as a guide to achieving our future aspirations.

With this context in mind, we invite innovators, entrepreneurs, students and community members to submit their bright ideas to solve this year’s challenge.

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 are data-driven, utilise tech and have the ability to deliver results.

We are looking for proactive solutions that:

  • Bring vibrancy back into the city in a way that considers different/new ways of working, and connecting.
  • Demonstrate creative use and awareness of public/private spaces to enhance people’s experience in the city.
  • Enhance provision and transparency of information to help city businesses and/or city users (workers, residents, students, visitors) understand, evaluate and access sector support.
  • Help to grow Melbourne’s economy in a sustainable and equitable way.

We want the ideas generated by this competition to be scalable, the impacts and challenges created by COVID-19 are not unique to Melbourne, so nor should the solutions be. The City of Melbourne has had a long-standing role in reinforcing Melbourne’s reputation as a global city and leveraging our international partnerships to learn and share international best practice. A key action in our Startup Action Plan is to help more startups and entrepreneurs to ‘start, grow and go global’, including improving access to international connections particularly in Asia.

For this reason, we’ve partnered internationally, with simultaneous competitions being run by Bandung City Government and The Greater Hub at Institute of Technology Bandung in Indonesia, and RMIT Activator at their Ho Chi Minh City campus in Vietnam.

To encourage participants to think about how their solutions could be adapted and applied to different cities, a number of international prizes will be awarded, providing the opportunity to test solutions in another market.