Innovation Challenge

Why Participate?

Why participate?

  • To help solve a pressing social, economic and environmental issue in your local community;
  • To access co-funding for further project development and actual implementation;
  • To receive professional expert feedback – for each of the submitted and eligible ideas and proposed solutions;
  • To gain new knowledge and skills for the longer-term benefit of your idea and your organisation;
  • To receive free expert couching and mentoring – for ideas and concepts selected for further development;
  • To network and find partners for your ideas who share common vision;
  • To increase the visibility of your ideas domestically and internationally.

What is considered innovation

  • New technologies or new application of existing technological solutions (first-of-its kind in Serbia);
  • New/improved business models or processes;
  • Partnership approach: Involvement of different sector stakeholders in defining/proposing solutions;
  • Involving citizens in decision making processes, planning and information management (e.g. ease access to information on community energy management);
  • Finding sustainable CSUD solutions that lead to long-lasting change;
  • Solving social issues (gender equality, marginalized groups, unemployment etc).

Project Categories

Based on financial plan and necessary funds for projects implementation, proposals will be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Small projects (up to 100.000 USD) – financial resources for implementation of such projects can also be provided through alternative sources of funding (for example crowdfunding).
  2. Medium projects (up to 1 mil USD),
  3. Large projects (investment value exceeds 1 mil USD)

Useful documents

Challenge Phases


From 22 November, 2017 until 31 January,2018

Applicants are requested to fulfil the application online and submit them by the deadline. It is sole responsibility of the applicant to update and correct information provided through the application portal on the CSUD webpage. Reviewers will review the application form to ensure they are completed correctly and fulfil the eligibility criteria, before submitting them to and independent evaluation panel of judges. Eligible applicants are: local self-government; public utility company; commercial origanization/businesses (Ltd, entrepreneurs); civil society organizations; research institutions registered in Serbia, according to national legislation. Call for individuals will be open on 15 December, 2017. Individuals have to have Serbian citizenship. EVALUATION OF PROJECT IDEAS 1 February, 2018 until 28 February, 2018 The CSUD project will provide a team of qualified Judges (covering all aspects of the proposed ideas – technical and managerial) to review and evaluate the proposed ideas. Based on the evaluation criteria, the Panel of Judges will select best ideas for their further development. Up to 20 best project ideas will be selected for the second phase (conceptualization), and are entitled to receive innovation awards (up to USD 10,000 per award). Up to 5 best project ideas submitted by individuals will be awarded with up to 5,000SUSD. Innovation awards should be used for the eligible hardware, consultancy and/or other costs indicated in their proposal.


What happens after the ideas are selected and the best ideas are awarded?
From March 1, 2018 until December, 2018 (6 months of Incubation)

The Best winning ideas are to be developed further into more specific concepts and projects during conceptualization phase. Applicants will need to demonstrate they have ability to deliver their project, by developed project documentation and financial construction. UNDP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental protection will establish the CSUD project Incubator.

From March 1, 2018 until May 1, 2018 – Additional call for advance project concepts

At the beginning of the conceptualization phase, Applicants who have already developed concepts and did not participate in the Ideation phase, can apply for the additional call for advance project concepts. Call will be open on March 1, 2018 and will last until May 1, 2018. Based on evaluation criteria at least 5 best project concepts will be selected. These Applicants will not receive Innovation award at this stage, but will have an opportunity to join best project applicants from Ideation phase and get technical support through Incubator.

Incubator / Climate Innovation Hub. The Incubator will be both co-sharing space and a help desk for project applicants. In co-operation with and supported by the project’s technical support and incubation team, applicants will have an opportunity to further elaborate project concepts, get mentoring and test the proposed solution. The selected teams will receive all the coaching and support free of charge. The Incubation will also arrange specific workshops and boot camps to further support elaboration of the concepts, as well as via other related events, including possible site visits and study tours. This incubation phase will take 6 months in total.

Pitching Events for mature Project Concepts – partnerships and financing opportunities window

Owners of the mature concepts will have a unique opportunity to present themselves and their concepts at the Pitching Events. The Pitching Events are an opportunity for partnership and funding, especially for small scale projects (projects up to USD 100,000). During September, the applicants whose Project value is above USD 100,000 will have to provide strong evidence of co-financing, in the form of Approved Loan from the banks or other types of co-financing commitments of project partners.

Investment Grant Support Mechanism – co-financing grant

For the projects selected as finalists and considered to be ready for actual implementation (upon completion of the conceptualisation phase), there will be an opportunity of co-financing of the implementation costs. Specific Investment Grant Support Mechanism will be established, consisting of the CSUD project resources and the Government cost sharing. The co-financing through this Mechanism will be provided by a co-financing grant. Criteria of the competition will take into account progress made during the ideation and conceptualisation phase and finalists from the conceptualisation phase will have competitive advantage for obtaining the grants. A co-financing grant scheme will be finalised in the period from October, 2018 until December 31, 2018. Individual grants per project will depend on the project investment value:

Investment value Individual grants per project
Small project (up to USD 100,000) Up to USD 50,000
Medium projects (USD 100,000 – USD 1 mil) Up to USD 100,000
Big projects (investment value exceeds USD 1 mil) Max. USD 200,000
* Number of projects selected as finalist for implementation and value of individual grants can be increased based on the additional funding resources.

The grant co-financing of the Investment Grant Support Mechanism will be delivered in the following way: 40% of the total grant per project will be granted after signing the co-financing contract, while 60% of the total grant per project will be granted upon completion of the project. The investment related project will be considered completed once the investment itself is ready to operate (e.g. use permit is issued or business plan becomes operational);

Note: Depending on the most appropriate approach to the winner project, the resources will be provided in the form of Grants or Innovation Awards or Exceptional Procurement. Certain solutions may already be prototyped throughout the ideation and conceptualisation phase, and therefore it would be difficult to award them twice in the conceptualization phase.


From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020

In the implementation phase the Finalists will have to put their ideas into action, their progress will be monitored and this will lead to the eventual selection of the final award winners. The focus of this phase is on achieving successful implementation and evidence of outcomes. A kick-off session will be organized to bring all finalists together and to make sure they understand expectations in the implementation phase. Based on the need, the Project team can also consider supporting each Finalist to set up a local launching event as a way of effectively initiating the activities with the involvement of specific target communities/users. Implementation of the project has to be finalized until 31 December, 2020 the latest. However, initiation of the implementation phase depends on the complexity of a project. If the project is ready for implementation immediately upon receiving ideation award, applicants can start implementation before official announcement of the Conceptualization and Implementation phase. In this case, applicants cannot compete for conceptualization award and co-financing, but are eligible for competing for the final award. Finalists will be asked for quarterly reports, showing progress against the agreed criteria.

Monitoring and reporting

Monitoring and reporting phase shall take minimum of 12 months in total. This time limit will also be taken into account when evaluating and selecting the finalists. Field visits will be organized, with the involvement of the Project team and Judges, or at least one visit will be arranged coinciding with the Finalists’ last report. If necessary, a new mechanism will be created to monitor GHG emissions reduction, if those already available are not suitable for specific projects. Moreover, monitoring and reporting system can be established online and in real time system, or through the existing Open Data system.

Additional call for Ideas
January – November 2021

Parallel with Monitoring and Reporting of co-financed projects, UNDP will assist the Ministry of Environmental Protection to start new Innovation Challenge Call. New challenge is an opportunity to scale-up projects and to continue with the practice to choose the best ideas and projects in the way established through CSUD project.


December 2021

The final awards will be awarded to the teams that have demonstrated the best progress and performance in implementing the project, based on the monitoring and reporting results. Judges will receive regular updates throughout the implementation and monitoring and reporting phase. Moreover, for each Finalist a file will be made containing information on why Finalists have originally been selected at the end of the Phase 2 (conceptualization), what was expected, which are key success indicators from the implementation and monitoring phase and what are some open issues to be resolved and potentials for improvement and upscaling. The final decision on awarding will be based on a majority vote.

All Finalists will have an opportunity to showcase their projects at the Final Awarding Event. This event will be arranged for all participants and partners in the project implementation process, including other organizations and local self-governments that might further support replicability. During the process of implementation and evaluation, a documentary movie will be filmed, to promote benefits of individual projects and to demonstrate the value of innovations and community engagement.

Projects and teams will receive a recognition awards.


Based on the evaluation criteria, up to 20 best ideas will be selected for further development and are entitled to receive financial award (up to USD 10,000 per award). Up to 5 best project ideas applied by individuals will receive up to 5,000USD per award. Innovation award should be used for the eligible hardware, consultancy, project documentation development and/or other costs indicated in their proposal

All finalists of the Ideation phase will have an opportunity to continue their journey toward the development of Project concept through the Conceptualization phase (second phase). Successful applicants will also have an opportunity to get technical assistance, mentorship and training. At least 5 best project concepts selected in additional call for advance project concepts will not receive Innovation award at this stage, but will have an opportunity to join best project applicants from Ideation phase and get technical support through the Incubator.

For the projects selected as finalists and considered to be ready for actual implementation (upon completion of the conceptualisation phase), there will be an opportunity of co-financing of the implementation costs through Investment Grant Support Mechanism.

Best implemented projects and teams will receive a recognition awards at the end of the Innovation Challenge.

Awarding scheme for CSUD Innovation Challenge
Innovation Challenge
Awards* Quantity
Ideation phase Up to 10,000 USD Up to 20
Ideation phase (individuals) Up to 5,000 USD Up to 5
Implementation phase Grants or Innovation Awards or Exceptional Procurement (co-financing) Up to 5
Final Award TBC Up to 3
*Note: Innovation awards will be assigned to best wining solutions, in Ideation phase, Before the beginning of the Implementation phase, the project resources will be used in the form of Grants, to avoid awarding the best concepts twice or the implementation of the project is much costlier and far above the limit value of Innovation Award budgetary line (which is 40.000 USD per award). Therefore, applicants will have to secure co-financing, either through bank loans or other sources of financing (bilateral, multilateral, private etc.).

Why we started this challenge

  • Why we started this challenge?

    • Climate change is already changing the environment, the economy and impacting our way of living;
    • There is a notable increase in occurrence of extreme weather conditions, losses and damages caused to crops, houses, property and lives;
    • Serbia needs to step up, meet its international climate-related obligations, and, more importantly, improve our environment, for the sake of present and future generations
    • There is a large demand for more energy, as well as an increased need for its efficient use and saving;
    • The efficiency of majority of public services in Serbia is typically low, because the systems are old, poorly maintained, outdated and often resulting in significant energy losses;
    • Many public service-related areas involving the use of a large number of vehicles and machinery – have untapped potential for reducing GHG emissions, while simultaneously improving the everyday life of citizens.

What is Climate Smart City/Municipality

What is Climate Smart City/Municipality?

In a smart city/municipality new and innovative technologies and approaches are used to improve the efficiency, safety, quality and environmental sustainability of urban living and public services. Smart cities also mean publicly accessible data, interactive, responsive and transparent local administration. In smart cities there is a broad community engagement and business environment stimulating solutions that reduce social and cultural inequality, injustice and isolation.

From the climate change perspective, smart cities encompass efficient and environmental-friendly urban land use and transport planning, sustainable waste management, upgraded water supply and waste disposal, energy-efficient public lighting, heating and cooling of buildings, increased use of renewable energy and resource sharing, as well as climate change preparedness.