open challenge

Citymart teams with Barcelona City Council to break the public procurement mould

Citymart and Barcelona City Council have partnered to launch a trailblazing public procurement initiative. BCN|Open Challenge turns urban challenges into opportunities by opening them up to local and international innovators, with the aim of promoting economic growth while transforming public services to improve the lives of Barcelona’s citizens.

For the first time, companies – especially SMEs & start-ups – are directly linked into the public procurement process. Barcelona City Council has further committed to acquire and support the winning solutions with a comprehensive development package to ensure their fruitful implementation.

Barcelona City Council in partnership with Citymart launches BCN|Open Challenge, an international call for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs to propose pioneering solutions to six challenges carefully designed to address key issues that affect the citizens of Barcelona in their daily lives.

Companies have until 16 June 2014 to present solutions to the six challenges. Finalists will be announced in late July, while the winning proposals for each challenge will be contracted by the end of the year.

Rather than prescriptively defining the solutions they are looking for, Barcelona publishes six urban and social challenges they are facing and asks for new solutions. Companies with new technologies and innovative approaches stand to gain from this simultaneously inclusive and disruptive model.

Backed by a 1M EUR innovation fund, BCN|Open Challenge will welcome the winning companies with a comprehensive business development package including dedicated landing space as well as financial and human resource training.

Using public procurement as a vehicle to stimulate development and attract new talent, BCN|Open Challenge offers a model that will catalyze innovation and accelerate business growth and job creation in the city. In line with the Barcelona Growth initiative, which designs the economic strategy of the city, this programme enables Barcelona City Council to strengthen its position as a leading global city for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The six challenges are:

1. Reducing bicycle thefts in the city 2. Empowering support systems to reduce social isolation 3. Monitoring pedestrian flows in the city 4. Tools for digitisation of museum and archive collections 5. Automatic detection and alerts of damaged road surfaces 6. Empowering local retail through technology

BCN|Open Challenge

“Citymart is proud to partner with Barcelona to pave the way towards a more open, entrepreneurial and innovative city government” remarks Citymart CEO Sascha Haselmayer. “This is a unique and bold step to improve the lives of citizens, and an unprecedented commitment to support the global innovation community.”

The Deputy Mayor for Economy, Business and Employment, Sonia Recasens, highlighted this pioneering initiative as one that will “accelerate efficiency and transparency in public procurement so that it becomes a powerful tool to strengthen the Barcelona brand, attract investment to the city and establish synergies with local companies.”

BCN|Open Challenge sets a new standard for accountability and transparency within Barcelona’s regulatory and procurement decisions. Through this programme, Haselmayer says, “Barcelona is positioning itself as a leading global city for innovation and entrepreneurship by opening up and inviting entrepreneurs to transform the city.”

For Recasens, the benefits for the city of Barcelona are similarly apparent: “The proposals arising from this international call will enable us to build a more innovative, competitive and global Barcelona at the hand of local and international companies. It will also encourage foreign investment projects that will undoubtedly strengthen the role of the city as an economic and knowledge hub.”

Together, Citymart and the Barcelona City Council are proving that even in times of austerity and budget cuts, it is indeed possible to shift the public procurement landscape to enable business-led innovation to transform the lives of citizens in a more direct and transparent way.

To learn more about BCN|Open Challenge, visit

About Citymart Citymart supports cities in transforming their communities by strengthening their innovation capacity and sharing inspiring solutions & methods to address urban and social challenges. The company provides tools and methods adopted by 52 cities to-date – such as London, Paris, Barcelona, Boston, Fukuoka, Cape Town and Mexico City – to leverage entrepreneurship and markets early-on in the public procurement and regulation processes. As a result, cities invest less public resources to greater societal effect, and create more sustainable, resilient and responsive communities.

Over the last 5 years SMEs from around the world have won 98% of the Calls published on By opening procurement and finding new approaches, cities stand to save between 5-10% of operating budgets, according to a study by McKinsey Global Research. More competition reduces costs, creates local jobs and increases entrepreneurship. The role of Citymart is to bring such city-innovator partnerships into being.

For more information, visit, follow us @CitymartTeam or on

About Barcelona Growth Barcelona Growth is an initiative led by the City Council of Barcelona that brings together public and private representatives from various fields to guarantee the conditions for economic growth. It was born after the City Council called the main economic agents of the city together and invited them to work jointly on researching specific measures to restart the local economy. Barcelona Growth is at the centre of a package of policies and measures aimed at promoting the economic development of the city of Barcelona over the next few years. With this programme, the City Council aims to be practical, work in a network, alongside the actors and in a fast way, taking into account the situation, with the clear aim of achieving growth and acting as a motor for the country.

To find about more about Barcelona Growth, visit