Banja Luka - Future City Innovation Challenge Launched

Posted June 1, 2020

Banja Luka - the Future City Innovation Challenge

The Future City Innovation Challenge, launched jointly by the UNDP and Banja Luka City, is an open and competitive call for proposals from civil society organisations, private sector, universities, media, public institutions that offer innovative and technology-based, yet customised solutions that would make Banja Luka smarter, greener, more resilient, inclusive and sustainable. This Future City Innovation Challenge aims to bring such ideas to life, catalyse action, and test innovative solutions that contribute making Banja Luka a city of the future.

The main objectives of the Future City Challenge are to:

  • Stimulate design and implementation of a portfolio of innovative and technology-based solutions that help build a more equitable, accessible, and enjoyable city to live in.
  • Instigate collaboration among multi-sectoral city stakeholders to co-design blueprint solutions that contribute to a future city.

The key results are:

  • At least 5 transformative, and scalable interventions that contribute to Banja Luka becoming a future city;
  • At least 3,000 residents benefit directly from the implementation of the proposals.

The city pilot transformation zones

All proposed projects should be developed specifically for one of the following pilot zones where all approved projects will be implemented:

Implementing all proposals within the selected areas will serve as a demonstration of diverse solutions that together can help improve the entire area at a micro-scale.

Priority innovation challenge areas

The Future City Challenge invites proposals in the following priority areas:

  • Future public services: the innovation challenge will seek to support proposals for innovative, technology-based and smart public services (e.g. public transport and traffic, energy efficiency and public lighting, public waste management, administrative services, etc.), which offer future-looking solutions for more effective and people-centred public service delivery. Applicants are encouraged to propose ideas which go beyond an off-the-shell “installation of a new application/software”, but such that envisage re-imagining of the public service based on citizens’ contribution, innovative thinking, data and technology. In addition, in their proposals, applicants may think about the smart public service also from the viewpoint of ensuring that they remain uninterrupted, accessible and effective, especially in times of public health crisis (such as the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Future public spaces: the innovation challenge will seek to support proposals that re-imagine public spaces and areas by taping into collective intelligence, citizen-led processes that offer a new vision for improved public space utilizing innovation, art, culture, green infrastructure and green areas, technology and urban development as complementary tools for more accessible, greener, people-centred and modern public spaces and areas. In their proposals, applicants need to consider the safety and “new normal” in public spaces imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Resilient city: Cities face a growing range of adversities and challenges in the 21st century. From the effects of climate change to floods or earthquakes, from industrial incidents to pandemics. Resilience is a main feature of future cities, helping them adapt and transform in the face of these challenges and prepare better for both the expected and the unexpected. Therefore, the innovation challenge will seek to support proposals that protect natural and cultural heritage for enhanced urban resilience, pilot circular economy and sustainable urban food solutions, introduce green infrastructure, develop protective and devices and alternative infrastructure solutions, disaster information management systems and solutions, etc.

Although these three priority areas focus on various elements of city life, the common denominator for all proposals is that they need to be sustainable - doing on harm on the ecosystem and maintaining current resource capacities without compromising the future.

Applicants can submit as many proposals as they wish in one or all priority areas.

What proposals are encouraged?

We are looking for proposals that seek to introduce systemic change. Hence, the Future City Innovation Challenge does not encourage single-point solutions that focus on the technology/device alone without considering the challenge to be addressed or the wide system within which the project is going to bring change. For example, introducing “smart bins” and mobile apps that don’t also address an inefficient waste management system or human behaviours, are just expensive trash cans. This Innovation Challenge invites solutions and innovations where technology serves as a means to an end, rather than being the focus.


The following applicants are eligible to apply under the Future City Innovation Challenge:

  • Non-governmental organisations;
  • Private sector;
  • Public institutions (agencies, institutes, art and culture, etc.) and utilities;
  • Public and private universities;
  • Public and private elementary and secondary schools;
  • Innovation hubs and technology centres;
  • Media.

Applicants can submit applications individually. However, this Future City Innovation Challenge encourages:

  • partnerships between eligible stakeholders within a proposal;
  • informally connected tripartite coalitions between applicants who tackle each of the three priority areas within a connected set of three separate applications that together represent an inter-linked, cross-sectoral and more systemic solution for the selected area.

Financial framework and details

The total amount of financial resources ensured by UNDP and co-financed by the City of Banja Luka amounts to BAM 260,000.

Financing from the Future City Innovation Challenge per project cannot exceed BAM 50,000.

The value-added tax (VAT) is not included in the BAM 50,000 budget.

Co-financing by applicants is not mandatory. However, co-financing is highly encouraged and will be positively evaluated.

Application deadline

The deadline for submission of applications is 26 June 2020.

All details, including application form and frequesntly asked questions are available HERE

Download Banja Luka - Future City Innovation Challenge GUIDELINES FOR APPLICANTS.