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Barcelona: Open for business, open for innovation


To see the winners of each Challenge. 

LOT 1: Reducing bicycle thefts in the city — Awarded

LOT 2: Empowering support systems to reduce social isolation — Awarded

LOT 3: Monitoring pedestrian flows in the city — Awarded

LOT 4: Tools for digitisation of museum and archive collections — Awarded

LOT 5: Automatic detection and alerts of damaged road surfaces — Awarded

LOT 6: Empowering local retail through technology — Awarded

What is BCN | Open Challenge?

Barcelona City Council and Citymart announce an international call for businesses and entrepreneurs to propose their innovative solutions to six different challenges to transform public space and services in the city.

As a radical departure from many competitions, the BCN|Open Challenge is a direct commitment to contract the winning solutions. Winners of many urban competitions receive an award or the opportunity to pilot. Barcelona is breaking this mould by using public contracting to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium enterprises.

BCN|Open Challenge is a new programme opening up the city administration to SMEs from around the world to transform public services. By seeking solutions to the city’s challenges with a more inclusive process, Barcelona will accelerate innovation and leverage public spending more effectively to deliver better public services. For the first time, public procurement directly focuses on innovation providers, leading to faster, stronger local economic growth and tangible improvements in citizens’ lives.

At the heart of the BCN|Open Challenge is a commitment from Barcelona City Council to:

  • Procure and implement the 6 selected winning solutions. This promise is backed up by a dedicated innovation fund of 1 million euro.
  • Support winning companies with a business package for growth including free space for landing or growing in Barcelona, support with financial and human capital development or coordination with relevant local partners.
  • Validate project references for the winners to strengthen their credentials when accessing other new markets.

Traditional procurement typically precludes small or international providers or new business models. With this initiative, Barcelona is offering companies the best support possible by becoming a significant, open-minded and importantly, prompt-paying client. This will not only support the development and growth of the solution, but provide the company with an excellent reference for business development around the world from Barcelona, a city recognised internationally for innovation.

Everyone agrees on the importance of promoting economic growth and quality of life through innovative activity. BCN|Open Challenge shows that Barcelona is focused on designing the best possible environment for creativity, innovation and growth.


For more information see How it Works


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sergio Correa de Jesus #

    A promising initiative aimed to provide innovative solutions and improvement paths towards some of the city’s most pressing issues in the public realm. Barcelona already ranks among the top ten Smart Cities in the EU and this initiative can only strenghten its competitive edge as a desirable place to live, work, travel and do business. It is also an opportunity to develop best-practice models of incremental scale and mobilizing citizen’s in a process of co-design.

    By enhancing a sense of dialogue and empowerment among citizen’s, commerce, tourism-related industries,mobility and the service sectors, Barcelona can further a sense of civic pride and respect for the urban environment and mantain its enviable position as one of the most livable cities in the world. I strongly support this initiative and manifest my keen interest in becoming an active participant in the process.

    Sergio Correa

    May 30, 2013
    • Hello,

      This is Peter Mbuchi Methu in Nairobi.

      I like you comments on May 30, 2013.


      August 9, 2013
      • Sergio Correa #

        Dear Peter,

        Cities are unique. They have their own DNA, their soul. The real challenge is to understand and interpret their rhythms, their everyday choreography, their pulse.

        I have spent three full years under EU funding, visually documenting the city, interviewing citizen’s, understanding their everyday paths, analysing how people and spaces interact, and how, collectively, local citizens and existing urban resources can be resilient and sustainable in the face of forces of change.

        I am certain that Nairobi can put forth a similar effort. Any city can. In this process untapped potentials become evident and there is a paradigm shift from “problem solving towards “opportunity seeking”. It takes the will and vision of a few to bring about significant breakthroughs as was the case of Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, under mayor and urban planner Jaime Lerner, who showed the world’s first metro like bus network in the world, or the incremental changes that Copenhagen went through under the wisdom of Jan Gehl, pedestrianising much of the city’s downtown area, making walking and biking the preferred modes of transport and the city one of the most liveable in the world.

        As I said, one must understand the DNA of an urban environment as every solution is “ad hoc”, unique to a particular place and context. No two cities are alike and hence no single formula for sustainable growth can be exactly the same.

        October 28, 2013
  2. Really strong message to the field of urban visionaries. As a cofounder of Urbanic – a spinoff of he international 4Cities masters in urban studies – I can only regret we’ve seen this challenge too late. And that it is only open for registered companies.

    June 16, 2014

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