The winners of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge are unveiled

Ignite Sweden had an active role in the creation of the winning teams that will help Bogotá, Bristol, Curitiba and Makindye Ssabagabo accelerate the shift to climate-neutral cities.

Green Routes, Thriving Places, Curitiba Smart Neighbourhoods and Green Community Cities are the winners of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge. The four winning teams will share up to €400,000 to work on innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the cities of Bogotá, Bristol, Curitiba and Makindye Ssabagabo.

Four Swedish startups are part of the winning teams: Impulser (Green Community Cities), Nodon technology (Thriving Places), Nudgd and Smart Green Station (Smart Neighbourhoods).

“Cities are crucial for a successful transition to climate neutrality, and they can’t do it without the support of essential actors from civil society, academia, business and government. The Climate Smart Cities Challenge adopts a systems approach to address one of the most complex challenges we face today, to ensure a better future for all,” says Rafael Tuts Director, Global Solutions Division at UN-Habitat.

From Finalists to Winning Teams

At the beginning of this year, and after reviewing nearly 200 proposals, a total of 45 companies and organizations were selected as finalists in the competition. For the past months, the finalists for each city worked on coming together as teams to propose combined and collaborative solutions to address the cities’ challenges such as freight mobility and affordable housing from a system perspective.

At the end of the co-creation phase, a total of 12 teams prepared submissions and presented their ideas in a series of pitching sessions in front of city representatives. An expert advisory panel evaluated the team submissions and made their expert recommendations to the cities who have decided on the four winning teams.

The winning teams will share up to €400,000 in a planning phase to build towards demonstrating their solutions in the cities in 2023, with the ultimate aim of creating solutions that will create better futures in cities around the world.

“Together with the four cities, the winning teams are now planning for system demonstrators. We have big hopes that this will accelerate a just transition to climate neutral cities, rather than incrementally improve the efficiency of cities climate action today,” says Olga Kordas, Programme Manager of Swedish Strategic Innovation Programme Viable Cities.

Olga Kordas (Viable Cities)

The Team Creation Phase

Ignite Sweden was in charge of the team creation phase. Since January we have worked actively to form teams based on the pool of finalists that have a shared approach on how to address the challenge of the four partner cities.

“Our role was to enable the finalists for each city to get to know each other, help them identify points of connections and support them in creating teams that together shared an idea of how they could tackle the challenge from a system perspective,” explains Linus Arnold, Innovation Process Leader at Ignite Sweden.

Linus Arnold (Ignite Sweden)

During the phase, Ignite organized, together with UN Habitat and Dark Matter Labs, a series of activities, including meetings with the city participants, seminars, workshops and office hours to help the finalists better understand the challenge and the local ecosystem of each city.

Ignite also assigned coaches to support the finalists in finding synergies with the other participants, exploring the possibilities of collaborating and finally proposing an innovative approach with the potential to tackle the cities’ challenges.

“To gather smart people with different backgrounds and different perspectives to solve a wicked problem really shows the power of innovation,” says Andreas Stubelius, Senior Consultant at Adect, who coached the four finalist teams for Bristol.

The business-oriented law firm Synch was also part of this phase, giving legal support to the finalists and providing various agreement templates to ease the collaborations within the teams.

Andreas Stubelius (Adect)

“International multi-parties collaborations with innovative approaches give rise to a number of legal challenges, not the least related to intellectual property rights. It has been a great pleasure to assist the teams to navigate through the legal landscape,” says Mathilda Nordmark from Synch Advokat.

The Winning Teams

These are the four winning teams and their proposals:

Green Routes (Bogotá, Colombia): “Our vision is to develop an integrated AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things) platform for freight transportation that offers listing, searching, matching, planning, optimization, and monitoring in real-time. This platform will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions while improving the ease and efficiency of shipping goods and the overall quality of life in Bogotá.”

Thriving Places (Bristol, UK): “Responding to the climate emergency, our focus is on strengthening Bristol as a holistically healthy city. Priorities include optimising the potential of every underutilised brownfield site and redefining development value for a new, broader definition of viability. Thriving places will provide decent housing for all using carbon-neutral climate-smart solutions.”

Smart Neighbourhoods (Curitiba, Brazil): “We propose a decentralised model of urban public cleaning services performed by residents, with an education program focused on household energy consumption efficiency, the availability of “smart points” of delivery of waste and mobility, and the implementation of a local composting program for small urban farms.”

Green Community Cities – Makindye Ssabagabo, Uganda: “Our shared goal is to develop affordable, sustainable net-zero housing within the context of an integrated solution addressing these objectives on both the individual building scale as well as the neighbourhood scale. Our shared approach will deliver a demonstration adapted to the needs of the local MS community, while simultaneously being scalable for wider economic and sustainability impacts.”

About the Climate Smart Cities Challenge

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge is a global initiative led by UN-Habitat and Swedish Strategic Innovation Programme Viable Cities with the support of over 20 partners, including Ignite Sweden, that harnesses the creativity and energy of innovators to work in teams with cities to help achieve global net-zero and create a better future for all.

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