UK-Guangdong urban innovation challenge 2017

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of £3 million to work with Chinese partners on innovative urban solutions in Guangdong province.

Programme:     UK-China Newton Fund

Award:     Up to £350,000

Opens: 3rd Jul 2017

Closes: 4th Oct 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The aim of this competition is to encourage innovative partnerships between the UK and Guangdong province. Innovate UK and Guangdong Department of Science and Technology (GDST) are funding this competition as part of the Newton Fund.

Projects should address one or more of the following urban challenges:

Challenge 1: smart mobility

China has 16 of the world’s 50 most-congested cities (TomTom Traffic Index, 2017). Two of these cities fall within Guangdong: Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which are placed 14th and 15th in the global ranking. The rapid urbanisation in the province has increased traffic, with negative effects to the environment, health and the safety of residents.

The solutions the competition is calling for should fit one or more of the following scope areas:

  • addressing the increase in CO2 emissions
  • responding to inefficiencies in the current transport system
  • urban responses to an increase in demand for public mobility multimodal urban mobility and inter-mode connectivity
  • enhancing the user experience through public service integration

Challenge 2: affordable healthcare through big data solutions

It is estimated that the number of individuals over the age of 60 in China will reach 440 million by 2050; that is more than double the current figure (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs). In Guangdong province alone, the number of older adults is set to reach 15 million by 2020. In the 2010 national census, 56% of older adult respondents identified themselves as not healthy, and 17% needed assistance for daily tasks.

Due to the rapid urbanisation and industrialisation of the Guangdong province, chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease have become commonplace. Most of the province’s medical resources are dedicated to this area. A large number of elderly people need support. This is increasing pressure on families and care staff. These rising numbers are having an adverse effect on Guangdong’s healthcare system and economy. There is a great opportunity to use big data to provide affordable and smart healthcare services to the province’s ageing population.

The solutions the competition is calling for should fit one or more of the following scope areas:

  • patient-centric, affordable healthcare solutions
  • integrated healthcare platforms
  • high-performance computing services for medical data
  • remote data cloud platforms for health management

Challenge 3: smart platforms for sustainable urban environments

In recent decades China’s rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have contributed to significant environmental issues, exacerbated by the lack of regulated discharges into air, water and soil. For example, the country’s per capita CO2 emissions have more than doubled in the past decade. The share of renewables in the total energy consumed has also dropped from over 30% to around 17% since 2000 (World Bank).

Environmental pollution and ecological issues are affecting residents’ health, quality of life and productivity in Guangdong’s urban areas. While a recent report (The China Urban Sustainability Index 2013, McKinsey Global Institute) identifies Guangdong’s largest cities of Zhuhai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou as some of the top environmental performers in China, the region’s booming urban environments are under growing pressure. This limits their ability to provide further improvements in a context of ever-expanding populations and industries.

Eligible consortia are invited to develop innovative solutions that would allow cities in Guangdong to use their resources in a more efficient and sustainable way.

The solutions the competition is calling for should fit one or more of the following scope areas:

  • integrated platforms to monitor and forecast sources of industrial and domestic pollution, featuring an emergency warning system
  • energy-optimising solutions in urban areas
  • platforms that encourage the use of energy-efficient solutions in urban areas
  • applications using big data to reduce emissions and pollutants
  • brownfield management data platforms to identify and monitor areas for environmental restoration
  • integrated platforms for urban waste classification and subsequent disposal and value recovery

For example projects for each of the challenges, please click here.


To apply to this competition, your project must include at least:

  • one UK-based business of any size
  • one Chinese business that has been registered in Guangdong province for over one year

You can also invite other types of organisations to join your project in the UK and in China.

On the Chinese side, the Guangdong-registered lead partner can work with businesses and academics based in other Chinese provinces, as long as their solution will address challenges in Guangdong.

Projects are expected to range in size from total project costs of £350,000 to £500,000 in the UK.

Projects must focus on industrial research. Work packages that include elements of experimental development will be considered within projects that predominantly target industrial research.

For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME

For experimental development projects that are nearer to market, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME

Projects are expected to last up to 2 years and to range in size from total project costs of £350,000 to £500,000 on the UK side.

Total UK grant size should not exceed £350,000 per project.