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Smart City Challenge 2024

18 December 2023

Do you have an idea, research project, or product that could positively impact Christchurch's transport, tourism, environment or resilience? The Smart City Challenge 2024 helps individuals and teams develop commercially feasible solutions for Christchurch and beyond. Find out more.


The Smart City Challenge 2024 is a ten-week Validator that aims to equip individuals and teams with a venture idea, research, or a non-commercialised product or service, to develop commercially feasible solutions to positively impact Christchurch's transport, tourism, environment or resilience.

We seek solutions that could be trialled with the support of the Christchurch City Council (CCC).

Enteries have now closed

Why enter?

By entering the Smart City Challenge you will have the opportunity to access:

  • A $10,000 cash prize pool
  • A $5,000 in-kind support package to take your venture to the next level.
  • Expert coaching, mentoring and support throughout the programme.
  • Advanced start-up knowledge and resources.
  • Prominent stakeholders and investors from the local and national innovation ecosystem.
  • Cohort-based accelerated learning and support.
  • UCE’s rapid prototyping and digital printing facility.
  • Complimentary hot-desks, deep-work spaces, refreshments, and use of the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) facilities. 
Do you have the next big idea?
FFA product


What new innovative products can we create to increase the value of the sector?

FFA technology

Data & Technology

What new data, process or technology solutions can we implement to improve the efficiency and output of the sector?

FFA sustainability

Environment & Sustainability

What new commercial ideas or emerging research will have a beneficial impact on our environment or contribute to the sector’s sustainability goals?

Smart City Challenge 2024 will seek concepts based on emerging technology/product/sustainability solutions which are aligned to:

  • Transport
  • Tourism
  • Environment
  • Resilience

Read more about Smart Christchurch:

Key dates

Please note, exact dates will be communicated soon.

Applications open19 February 2024
Info Evening at CCC6 March 2024
Applications close18 March 2024
Successful Applications advised25 March 2024
Smart City Challenge starts8 April 2024
Smart City Challenge ends14 June 2024

The programme consists of 90-120 minute sessions, held twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm at the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Attending the in-person sessions is highly recommended to gain the most benefit from the programme, as the group learning experience is a key advantage. However, an online option will be available for those who are unable to attend in person due to location, work, or health issues, which can be discussed with UCE.

To fully participate in the programme, it is essential to attend the launch day, industry event with speed mentoring, and the finale. On average, participants should allocate approximately five hours per week to the programme, which includes attending the in-person or virtual sessions, additional support sessions, and meeting with coaches and assigned advisors.

Participants can also schedule one-on-one coaching/mentoring sessions with their advisor outside of the twice-weekly sessions to better fit their schedule.  

Most participants benefit from dedicating an approximate 5-8 hours per week in addition to the programme.

The focus of the Smart City Challenge 2024 is validating founder-led and research-driven ideas, prior to getting market traction and full investment in their commercialisation. Topics covered will include:

  • Intellectual property and freedom to operate

  • Customer discovery and problem / solution fit

  • Value proposition design 

  • Testing assumptions

  • Competitor analysis

  • Identifying an initial target market

  • Customer acquisition 

  • Business model design

  • Finance and investment readiness

  • Pitching your venture idea

Content, delivered by the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship team, will be amplified through: 

  • Matching each venture with a mentor, experienced entrepreneur or commercialisation experts

  • Speed mentoring sessions

  • Case studies of recent commercialisation of ‘Smart City’ related ideas presented by current entrepreneurs

  • Presentations by other agencies within the innovation ecosystem on how they can support or fund new ventures and research 

  • Industry events connecting ventures to relevant industry players

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

The Smart City Challenge is open to any team or individual living in New Zealand at the time of the entry submission deadline with an idea that could positively impact Christchurch's transport, tourism, environment or resilience.

  • A team cannot enter into this Challenge with a product or service that is in market or 
    generating revenue at the time of the entry submission deadline.

  • There is no minimum or maximum team size i.e., you can enter as a team of one or a 
    team of twenty.

  • Individuals can enter and participate in the Challenge simultaneously with different submissions and as a part of multiple teams.

Participation in the Challenge is entirely at the discretion of the Challenge Organisers.

The Challenge Organisers reserve the right to reject or disqualify any entry, team or individual participant at any time without explanation or recourse. 

By submitting an entry into this Challenge, you agree to comply with and be bound by the Terms & Conditions of this Challenge.

Judging Criteria

All applications will be judged according to the degree to which they satisfy the following overarching criteria:

  • An innovative product that is scalable and potentially protectable.

  • Clear market opportunity (i.e., potential customers in NZ and overseas). 

  • It is technically feasible, safe and sustainable.

  • The right capability to execute at the commercialisation stage that they are currently at.


  • All Judges will sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to accessing any of the applications. 

  • All judges will be required to declare any conflict of interest as soon as they become aware, and the Challenge Organisers will manage conflicts of interests at their sole discretion. If an entrant becomes aware of a conflict of interest with the Challenge Organisers, sponsors, other participants, mentors or any judge they must immediately inform the Challenge Organisers.

See the Terms & Conditions for more detail.

Can I submit more than one idea? 
Yes - you can submit more than one idea, but you will need to submit separate entries for each idea. 
Can a team be just one person? 
Yes - there is no minimum or maximum number of team members. 
Can my product be in-market? 
No - this Challenge is only for entries with products or solutions that are not in-market i.e., earning revenue.

Are the judges and mentors bound by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)? 

Do the organisers of this Challenge take an equity stake in my venture? 

Does it cost me anything to enter this Challenge? 

How do I protect my IP when I apply? 
We will make it clear in the entry form which parts of your application will be publicised. If you make it to the Finals Round, we will work with you to help protect your IP. The Terms & Conditions of the Challenge prohibits any Entrant, the Organiser, Sponsors, Judges or Challenge Partners to make a claim with respect to ownership or release without permission of any intellectual property created by any Challenge Entrant. 

Do I have to attend the Programme in person?  If so, what is the time commitment? 
Yes - you are expected to attend the Challenge in person where possible. The programme consists of 90-120 minute sessions, held twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm at the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship. Most participants benefit from dedicating an approximate 5-8 hours per week in addition to the programme.

Time commitment will be approximately five hours per week (this includes mentoring sessions). As most of the sessions will be live-streamed or recorded you can view them in your own time if you are not able to participate in real time. There will be three in-person sessions over the course of the Programme where all participants are expected to attend – the Launch, the Industry Event, and the Finale (if you are selected as a Challenge Finalist).Yes - you can submit more than one idea, but you will need to submit separate entries for each idea. 

If you would like to get in touch, contact UC Centre for Entrepreneurship

Please see the Terms and Conditions Section on the Validator Series webpage


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