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City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge

City revitalisation


Businesses in Sydney have been impacted by coronavirus restrictions and resulting in changes to customer behaviour.

As the pandemic took hold in March 2020, travel behaviours immediately shifted as workers remained at home and businesses dealt with the loss of workers, tourists and international students. 

  • As of August 2020 there were almost 50 per cent fewer people working in the Sydney CBD than in January 2020.​
  • Public transport patronage was down to 20 per cent during the initial lockdown, reverting to around 55 per cent of 2019 figures in August 2020. ​

The NSW Government and Local Councils are now encouraging people to return to the city in a COVID Safe manner, to boost economic activity and support businesses to thrive.

Confidence is already increasing. But even after long periods of low-to-no community transmission in NSW, the city is no longer seen as a place for work and the return of workers to offices remains slow.

In October 2020 the Transport Digital Accelerator conducted customer research. It was aimed at understanding the behaviours and needs that affect customers decisions and actions when planning to travel and attend destinations in the Sydney CBD. These insights, combined with existing research, informed this challenge.


The Problem Space

If people are not coming into the CBD for work, how might we create new experiences that redefine what the CBD is and who it is for? Our research with customers uncovered opportunities to redefine the city experience, and create new ways of exploring the city for leisure and entertainment,

Sydney-siders want connected and unique experiences that redefine the way they interact with the city. 

How might we create unique and connected experiences that recreate the ‘wonder’ of travel?

Venues and city destinations are looking for sustainable and user-friendly ways to attract customers and serve them safely.

How might we safely  attract customers back to city destinations and optimise patronage?

The Challenge

This challenge includes, COVID Safe Summer and The New Normal . Applications must be made by eTender though note the objectives, problem space, and evaluation criteria for both the COVID Safe Summer and The New Normal are the same

The City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge will accelerate innovation and technology solutions that;

  • Increases the number of visitors to the Sydney CBD in a COVID safe way.
  • Spreads peak demand at venues and on public transport.
  • Increases confidence to travel to the Sydney CBD including managing physical distancing at city destinations.
  • Improves the customer experience of travelling to and exploring the Sydney CBD.

City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge Launch

What we are looking for 

Transport for NSW is looking to accelerate projects that invent new creative ways of activating the city streets, venues and destinations in a safe way, and connected by technology.  We want to see ideas that could measurably increase visitation and economic activity in the Sydney CBD.

 We are keen to partner with disruptive tech startups and organisations who can creatively deliver new experiences. Fast. 

One focus is around how we capture relevant and timely information.  For customers, visibility of capacity at venues at destinations can support planning (with physical distancing in mind) before even leaving the house. And it can also help to connect experiences when exploring the city.

The other focus is creating unique and connected experiences. We want to attract customers by instilling  a sense of wonder in the Sydney CBD. Foreign, new, and inclusive activities, events and festivals could make the CBD attractive for those who are genuinely missing overseas adventures and activities. We are also interested in opportunities with public or underutilised office space that could re reimagined.

Your approach might consider how to obtain this information and optimise the experience for customers, venues and destinations in the Sydney CBD. Our preference is that you come to us with data and a way to make a solution usable for customer. If you need access to data and information, consider partnering with another organisation. 

Respondents should also note that any organisation wishing to do business with TfNSW will need to comply with the NSW Government’s mandatory ICT contracting Framework and be registered on the ICT Services Scheme.

For further details please refer to


Solution Starters

The following solution areas are a starting point only - most of which we identified as opportunities through horizon scanning. But, you are only limited by your imagination.

Creating seamless experiences by using capacity data to connect customers with nearby ‘next best’ options.

  • New and unique city experiences that reimagine the way customers interact with the city, connected by technology. It could be something new that recreates the ‘tourist experience’. Or an existing experience with a new layer of technology that improves the customer journey.
  • Solutions might connect venues and destinations with customers, presenting them real-time data on capacity and booking availability. It might include visualisations of nearby experiences and destinations. This could look like a Next Best Action  offering that allows customers to book into places so they can continue or connect their city experience.
  • Customers also referred to planning and sharing city plans with their family and friends. The solution might help to facilitate group planning with the support of real-time capacity information. 

Prompting behaviour change to encourage customers to adhere to physical distancing protocols.

  • When community transmission declines overall, data shows that adherence to COVID Safe protocols also decreases. Community transmission should be monitored and solutions should consider ways to incorporate COVID Safe principles in the design, for example, referring to behavioural psychology approaches to ‘nudge’ positive behaviours in the built environment or throughout the customer journey. 
  • Consider how real-time capacity data is shared throughout a journey. We’re interested in solutions which facilitate 2-way communication with customers to keep them informed and up to date.

Tracking real-time capacity of venues and destinations to support customers planning.

  • Capacity tracking systems that can be established at selected locations to monitor and provide a live-stream of capacity, i.e. WiFi, Bluetooth, AI on video footage, sensors and heatmapping technology.
  • The data source should have the ability to integrate through an open API with customer planning tools such as the Opal Travel App or TripView.


On offer is:

  • Equity-free seed funding to develop your idea.
  • A partnership with the NSW Government to deliver solutions that reimagine the city experience.
  • Access to TfNSW’s network of industry partners, executives, and subject matter experts.
  • A potential customer beyond seed funding alone.

The Innovation Challenge will be open to respondents in two stages. You may enter into both stages, however your solution or idea must be different.  The best applications will be tailored to clearly address the problem statement. Following and referring to this page will maximise your chances of success. 

This is a valuable way to raise your profile with Transport NSW and NSW Government, and support the revitalisation and recovery of the Sydney CBD.


Who should apply?


Winners of our last Innovation Challenge included a startup at MVP stage and an ASX-listed company. The Digital Accelerator is keen for anyone with a great idea to apply.

Again, the Transport Digital Accelerator is agnostic to the size and industry of applicants. The best applicants will have the capability of delivering a solution, combined with a thorough understanding of the problem area.

If you have a solution aligned to the Revitalisation Innovation Challenge project’s objectives and goals, and are looking to make it a reality quickly, this is for you.

The Digital Accelerator encourages applications from women-owned businesses, startups, and ATSIC businesses as much as we do any other. All applications will be assessed on the evaluation criteria.

Before contracting, all suppliers will be required to confirm the NSW Government’s ICT Services Scheme and be registered as a ‘Base Supplier’. The Digital Accelerator will provide more details on this, where relevant.


Why apply?

The opportunity to revitalise the Sydney CBD.

Above anything, you have the very real opportunity to create something scalable that makes the lives of everyone in Sydney better.

To achieve that, we have a suite of support that includes seed funding, access to industry partners and mentors, assets and data existing in Transport for NSW and potentially other agencies, SME advice, and more.


Evaluation criteria

  1. Does the idea align to the objectives of the challenge?
  2. Is the solution a new and unique way of doing business?
  3. How impactful is the solution to customers? (considering both depth and breadth of impact)
  4. Can the project be deployed and completed in a rapid timeframe?
  5. Is the project technically feasible with no significant risk?
  6. If successful, is the approach repeatable and scalable? Has the applicant considered how this might be achieved?

More on the City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge

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