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Manchester issues smart city challenge

Eight selected SMEs will have the opportunity to put their innovative solutions to the test in real-life situations

Challenges involve collaborating with organisations in Manchester to understand needs
Challenges involve collaborating with organisations in Manchester to understand needs

Manchester’s CityVerve smart city Open Innovation challenge is calling on UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tackle challenges in healthcare, transport and energy.


Led by Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships and convened by CityVerve, the UK’s smart city demonstrator, the challenge will see eight SMEs selected to participate in eight-week initiative to help transform the city with smart technologies.


The aim is to combine technology, data and creativity to combat some of the city’s biggest problems in healthcare, transport and energy.


“This is a hugely exciting part of the CityVerve demonstrator project where city partners have the opportunity to source and co-develop genuinely innovative solutions and trial them in a real-world environment,” said Anne Dornan, head of innovation and partnerships at MSP.


“We hope to attract some of the most innovative technology SMEs in the UK to work with the support of committed civic partners and global industry players to deploy some market leading smart city solutions which not only improve key services in Manchester, but can be exported to cities globally.”


Commencing in March 2018, the initiative gives SMEs the opportunity to work with partners from public sector, corporate and academic worlds who are part of the CityVerve Internet of Things (IoT) test bed. The eight selected SMEs from across the UK will have the opportunity to put their innovative solutions to the test, in a real-life situation.


The Open Innovation challenges involve collaborating with organisations in Manchester to understand their needs and focus on issues such as sustainability, inclusiveness, traffic congestion and long-term health conditions. To address these issues, four challenge briefs have been created for SMEs to respond to before entries close on 14 February. The four briefs are:


Health and social care – working with NHS Manchester – create a solution using data being collected from home monitoring systems which enables triggered intervention and care for the elderly, to ease the reliance on healthcare providers;


Transport and travel – working with Transport for Greater Manchester – create an infrastructure or consumer solution that eases passenger experience or improves confidence and usage in public transport;


Energy and environment – working with Manchester Science Partnerships – create a non-intrusive and cost-effective solution that optimises energy consumption and reduces carbon emissions in commercial buildings, using existing building data and data from external sources;


Wildcard entry – if interested SMEs do not believe their solutions fit any of the briefs above, they can apply as a wildcard. The open innovation initiative is interested in additional internet of things, data-driven or smart solutions to improve Manchester using the data sources available on the CityVerve platform.


Selected SMEs will be given unparalleled access to industry leaders in the smart city and IoT sector. Additionally, Cisco will be offering the opportunity to scale solutions through its global sales channels, while MSP and Growth Studio will provide product development and business masterclasses as well as access to investors in the smart cities space. SMEs will receive a £5,000 grant and the opportunity to showcase their technology to industry leaders at the CityVerve demo day later in 2018.


“Without collaboration, any effort to solve the challenges facing society today fails at the first hurdle. No one organisation can truly do it alone. The answer lies in co-innovation, and this approach is fundamental to the open innovation challenges,” added Nick Chrissos, director of innovation at Cisco in Europe.


“This is an exciting opportunity not only for our country’s best SMEs to test their technology, but for us to work with them. We are looking forward to seeing what solutions are created to help solve challenges facing Manchester not only today, but in the future.”


Applications for the four open innovation challenge briefs close on 14 February 2018, and fast-track selection days will be held on 15_16 February 2018. The final selection day will be held on 5 March 2018, and the challenge will commence on 19 March before ending in May.


For more information and to apply please go to:


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