The Bartlett


The Global Innovation Collaborative in partnership with UCL announce Creative Cities Challenge 

3 June 2021

UCL and The Global Innovation Collaborative partner to launch new competition aimed at to speeding up economic recovery in the cultural and creative sectors. 

Students working on designs

We’re pleased to announce that UCL has partnered with The Global Innovation Collaborative (GIC) to launch the Creative Cities Challenge, an open innovation competition that aims to speed economic recovery in the cultural and creative sectors impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The challenge invites innovators and entrepreneurs across digital, technology, and financial industries from Berlin, London, New York City, and Paris to submit ideas that will help restore each city’s culture, identity, and economy. The goal of the competition is to find functional solutions that will drive economic growth as well as meet and address new public health, legal, technological, and social challenges caused by the pandemic. The successful Creative Cities Challenge entries will then act as a blueprint for other cities around the world to address their own recovery efforts.  

The GIC - a partnership between the Cities of Berlin, London, New York City and Paris, along with Bloomberg Associates, Nitrous and Microsoft - said that winning proposals will fill one of two criteria:  

  • Reimagining systems - which may include new technological platforms, digital tools, in-person or virtual gatherings, markets, or festivals - to ensure creative individuals, industries, and activities can be connected, made financially sustainable, and thrive as a critical part of each cities’ cultural landscape, or;  
  • Help small and independent businesses in the creative economy to adapt quickly to changing community needs and consumer behaviour. Additionally, all proposals will be expected to address environmental sustainability concerns and advance social equity in these sectors.  

Discussing the Creative Cities Challenge, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:  

“London is home to some of the world’s most dynamic innovators and entrepreneurs. Through this exciting new partnership with other world cities, I’m confident we will be able to harness their creativity and help those sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – such as arts and culture – adapt and thrive as we emerge from lockdown and into our economic recovery.” 

Prof. Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett, University College London, added:  

“We’re delighted to be partnering on this project. Creativity, culture, and nightlife are all vital to the future of cities, and global collaboration is the best way to build that future. We need to share ideas and experiences, and support creative communities in making our cities more vibrant and liveable.” 

Clare Barclay, CEO Microsoft UK, said:  

“Technology has the potential to vastly transform cities, with data and analytics to improve decision making and collaboration across industries. We look forward to working closely with entrepreneurs and innovators to re-imagine the future of London through the Creative Cities Challenge.” 

The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment will contribute to the Creative Cities Challenge by supporting the competition in a number of ways, which include: 

  • Mobilising specialist academic expertise as/where needed to support evaluation of proposals, the jury process, and other upstream activities of the Challenge call.  
  •  Assisting in identifying the cutting-edge expertise, research ideas and groups most relevant for the participants of the Call by signposting, facilitating conversations and connections.  
  • Use of our new UCL at Here East site as a testbed for collaborative development and experimentation of creative solutions.  
  • Development of a mentorship programme for innovator participants of the Challenge, featuring mentors from The Bartlett community.  
  • Facilitating connections and collaborations with universities in Challenge Partner cities to contribute to the Creative Cities Challenge. 

More information on the Creative Cities Challenge, including how to enter, can be found at the GIC website.  

For all inquiries regarding this open call, please email info@citiesinnovation.global