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What is the City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge

The Innovation Challenge is our call to startups and industry for innovation and technology that can help revitalise the Sydney CBD.   

Whilst this program is a TfNSW initiative, City Revitalisation efforts are a cross-agency in NSW, so our focus goes beyond modes of transport alone. We are keen to accelerate solutions that; 

  • Increases the number of visitors to the Sydney CBD 

  • 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. 


Why is the challenge being run?  

The impact COVID-19 has had on businesses in the city has been substantial, with workers staying home and a loss of tourists and international students. Through this challenge, we’re looking to invigorate the city, encouraging people to travel to the CBD in a COVID Safe manner to boost the economy and support businesses as they rebuild. 

Why only Sydney CBD?  

The Sydney CBD has suffered significantly from the loss of tourists and reduction in workers - more so than any other centre in NSW. 

We expect all innovations to help encourage customers to safely return to the city. We expect trial a number of solutions in the Sydney CBD with the intention to expand successful trials to other LGA's

How did you land on these problem spaces?  

The Transport Digital Accelerator conducted customer research to understand 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 the problem spaces.


How do I apply?  

All applications must be made via eTender. Please refer to the following links for more details: Stage 1: COVID Safe Summer or Stage 2: The New Normal

Please ensure you view the information session or subscribe with your email address to be advised of key events and news about the challenge. 


Do I need to be based in NSW to apply?Will you be working with interstate organisations, even with the restrictions? 

No, however your team should be able to participate in key meetings and deliver milestones. You will require a valid ABN and you may need to to be in Sydney for the key dates, if you’re successful.

We are open to working with any organisation, including those based outside of NSW, providing they have great ideas and are capable of delivering their solution, irrespective to restrictions changing. 

What geographical area does the CBD cover?  

Anywhere within the Sydney CBD, For the purposes of this Innovation Challenge, the CBD is defined as the central Sydney CBD and Haymarket areas (including Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and The Rocks).


Can I submit multiple ideas?  

Yes! You may submit multiple applications. A separate application must be submitted for each idea.  


How old do I have to be to participate?   

You need to be at least 18 or have the written consent of your parent or guardian if you’d like to apply.  


Do businesses give up equity to participate? How much does it cost?  

Applying and participating is free. Seed funding is debt and equity free

I have an idea, but I haven’t developed it yet. Should I apply?  

If you a) clearly address the problem we’ve put forward and b) you are capable of delivering your idea, you should apply.   

Note that we do not provide funding for research, startup development or commercialisation of research. Other grant and assistance programs may help you develop or commercialise your ideas. Seed funding provided by the Transport Digital Accelerator is to accelerate the development of solutions. 

What is the typical size of businesses that would pitch?  

The size of a business is less important than their ability to demonstrate an understanding of a problem and propose a solution that they are capable of delivering. We typically receive applications from startups with good ideas and big business alike.   


What’s on offer? What will the winner receive?  

  • Equity-free seed funding to develop your idea. That means TfNSW will be your customer.   

  • For Stage 1, COVID Safe Summer, up to $70,000 per idea 

  • For Stage 2, The New Normal, up to $150,000 per idea 

  • A partnership with a NSW Government agency 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 Transport Digital Accelerator intends on progressing with multiple solutions through both streams of this Innovation Challenge.   


What is the judging criteria? 

Both stages will be assessed according to the same criteria: 

1. Action and Alignment - Is the project aligned to the City Revitalisation program? Is action being taken?    

2. Understanding of Problem – Have the applicant explained how the problem is being addressed? Will it have a measurable impact on the objectives?  

3. Customer Impact - Will the solution have an impact on the customer experience? How effectively is a pain point being addressed?  

4. Technology, Team and Timeline - Is the technology new, innovative, or advanced? Can the project be implemented within the allocated timeframes?  

5. Support Required - Does the project represent good value for money? 


Who will be evaluating Innovation Challenge applications? 

The Transport Digital Accelerator has established a committee of advisors and subject matter experts who may be asked to provide advice on applications we receive. The evaluation committee includes relevant Transport for NSW representatives.  


Who will I be pitching to if I’m successful?

A panel of industry leaders and decision-makers in government. 

A successful trial would see your trial scale across councils in NSW, states in Australia, and beyond. So, we’ll bring along decision-makers who can provide direct, quality feedback to you. 

Ahead of the event, we’ll tell you the judges, criteria, and format. We will also give you guidance and advice on how to pitch so you are prepared.  


Are we able to discuss our proposal with TfNSW to determine which stage suits us better? 

We encourage you to submit questions in writing to, particularly if your question is on which stage best suits your idea.   

Note that we will make our responses public if new information is provided. You are not able to discuss the feasibility or viability or your proposal with TfNSW while the Innovation Challenge is open to market.  


What type of data will be available for technology partners? For example, will the Service NSW QR code for hospitality venues and the venue’s details will be made publicly available? 

We're keen to work with tricky ideas and encourage creative solutions that looks to create impact through collaborating with government. Note your request of the NSW Government in your application and we will give you feedback as to what is and is not possible. 

As a start, look through the resources section of our website for helpful links, as well as a host of available data on the Open Data Hub

More on the City Revitalisation Innovation Challenge

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