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Smart Leicester City Challenge

Leicester is becoming a smart city, characterised by connected people and resilient places. With its vibrant population, creative industries, world-class universities and a successful space sector, Leicester has the capacity and capability to become a smart city.

The Smart Leicester team has been supporting the development of smart projects throughout Leicester-based organisations. We have been developing a living-strategy that encapsulates the input of over 200 stakeholders to identify key priority areas that would benefit from Smarter innovation. These areas are:

  • Smart Business and Economy – Supporting innovation and sustainable growth,
  • Smart Learning and Skills – Promoting digital skills and lifelong learning,
  • Smart Participation and Wellbeing – Addressing poverty, inequality and isolation
  • Smart Governance and Services – Growing open data and improving decision making
  • Smart Land, Buildings, and Infrastructure – Improving transport and tackling the climate crisis.
  • Smart Creativity and Culture – Utilizing Leicester’s growing creative sector for the city

We have also drafted 3 ‘pillars’ that cross all priority areas:

  • Digital – ensuring that everyone has access to the key digital infrastructure to participate and engage;
  • Data – ensuring that the correct information is as accurate and accessible as possible;
  • Inclusion – ensuring that the digital divide is tackled and that all people and communities benefit from being part of a smart city.

More information on Smart Leicester Strategy, its aims, smart themes and objectives can be found on the Smart Leicester page.

As part of the ambition to make Leicester a people’s smart city we are launching the ‘Leicester Smart City Challenge’.

We would like to challenge everyone including residents, communities and enterprises to turn their ideas for Leicester into actions. We will award funding up to £5,000 to at least two proposals in order to kickstart projects.

We will offer a small grant to stimulate and support social enterprise and innovation projects that can benefit people in Leicester.

Funding is confirmed for 2020-2021 and amounts of up to £5,000 per project will be awarded for proposals that move successfully through the bidding process and assessment criteria. 

Interested parties that meet the criteria are invited to submit proposals for digital and data-enabled projects that align with one (or more) of the smart objectives. More information on Smart Leicester Strategy, its aims, smart themes and objectives can be found on the Smart Leicester page.

We would like to encourage proposals from as wide a range of individuals and groups as possible. This would include (but is not in any way limited to):

  • Individuals
  • Community groups
  • Community interest companies
  • Charities
  • Students
  • Social enterprises
  • Businesses

We encourage proposals from marginalised and under-represented groups and individuals in the field of digital and technology in Leicester.

We will aim to offer as much flexibility in awarding the challenge funding in order to promote the greatest diversity of applicants.

Lead contacts will be responsible for receiving and managing challenge funding. Although, if required, we can manage specific procurements in order to facilitate project delivery. Projects will be asked to specify their approach to running the project (on their application), however the final decision on selecting a suitable approach will remain with us.

Project aims

Projects must start from scratch and aim to deliver outcomes that are of relevance to Leicester and can be of immediate use upon delivery

Project deliverables and outcomes can include proof of concepts, prototypes, guidance and designs, among others. Ownership of the project outputs will remain with the applicant.

You do not need to produce a benefits case, research report or recommendations report.

We expect projects to work in the open and this can consist of blogs, show-and-tells and weekly notes.

At the end of the challenge, we will run a wrap up event and expect project teams to present their outputs.

In providing funding, priority will be given to those proposals that offer the greatest potential for immediate impact, as opposed to longer term projects. We are also focused on new ideas that require seed funds rather than existing projects that are aiming to scale up.

You will be expected to demonstrate your readiness to meet the challenge eligibility criteria outlined below, as well as availability to start the project from 11 January 2021.

To be considered for funding, proposers must:

Help make Leicester a people’s smart city

  • Meet the objectives and aim outlined in the Smart Leicester Strategy
  • Promote projects that are people focused rather than technology focused

Have a genuine link to Leicester

  • Project owner might have a proven connection to the city
  • Project owner might be active in communities in Leicester

Describe briefly how they will deliver the project

  • Provide an overview of the project
  • Provide an estimated timeline of project development

Have an original idea

  • Project will not be developed from existing activity
  • Project will be unique in Leicester

Deliver value to Leicester

  • Contribute to the development of Leicester as a people’s smart city
  • Will positively impact the lives of communities in Leicester

Be able to start immediately and deliver outputs in the short-term

  • Will start week commencing 11 January 2021
  • Projects will not be focused on long-term delivery cycles

Be willing to promote the project to stakeholders and the wider public

  • Will know how to market to relevant stakeholders
  • Will understand the communications requirement for project delivery

Explain why they need support from the Smart Leicester Challenge Fund

  • Will explain how much funding they require
  • Will explain how funds will be used

You can apply online.

To encourage as many people can apply, applications will now be reviewed on an ongoing basis. To be considered for the first round of presentations please submit by 1 January 2021.

Shortlisted applications will be expected to present their projects to a panel between 5 to 7 January 2021, if you will not be available on these dates please contact

Further information

If you have any specific questions about the challenge you can email us: