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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.

Please note the first round of successful applicants has been selected. Follow our twitter @SmartLeicester to hear about future rounds of the Smart Leicester City Challenge.

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 Smart Leicester City Challenge’. We would like to encourage everyone including residents, communities and enterprises to turn their ideas for Leicester into actions. We will offer a small grant to stimulate and support social enterprise and innovation projects that can benefit people in Leicester. Interested parties are invited to submit proposals for projects that address one or more of our Smart City aims, themes and objectives.

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.

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

Savena Surana and Arda Awais from Identity 2.0 with their project ‘This Machine is Black’:

“This Machine is Black is an interactive exhibition inviting Leicester to question the relationship between race and artificial intelligence. Set in a garden, this exhibition will employ creative tech, fun interactions and accessible language, to ensure that everyone can get involved in this conversation. Created by Identity 2.0 - a creative art project empowering people to explore and protect their digital identity.”

Harsh Patel and Baltej Singh with their project ‘Apnakey’:

“The recent pandemic has shown us how group activities are very valuable and a necessity in life. Apnakey brings communities together and makes group activities more accessible by giving a better experience with daily group/individual bookings. An all-in-one booking application offers a seamless connection between communities and recreational venues, allowing for the stress-free booking of activities.”


Further information

If you have any specific questions about the challenge you can email us: smart@leicester.gov.uk.