Innovation Challenge

Why Participate?

Why participate?

  • To help solve a pressing social, economic and environmental issuein your local community;
  • To access co-fundingfor 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 skillsfor the longer-term benefit of your idea and your organization;
  • To receive free expert couching and mentoring– for ideas and concepts selected for further development;
  • To network and find partnersfor your ideas who share common vision;
  • To increase the visibility of your ideasdomestically and internationally.

What is “the 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)

Challenge Phases


From 22 November, 2017 until 31 January,2018

Applicants were requested to fulfil the application online and submit them by the deadline. It was sole responsibility of the applicant to update and correct information provided through the application portal on the CSUD webpage. Reviewers have reviewed the application forms to ensure they have been completed correctly and fulfil the eligibility criteria, before submitting them to and independent evaluation panel of judges. Eligible applicants were: local self-government; public utility company; commercial organization /businesses (Ltd, entrepreneurs); civil society organizations; research institutions registered in Serbia, according to national legislation. Call for individuals was open on 15 December, 2017. Individuals had to possess Serbian citizenship.

EVALUATION OF PROJECT IDEAS  1 February, 2018 until 28 February, 2018

The CSUD project provided 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 have selected best ideas for their further development. Up to 20 best project ideas were selected for the second phase (conceptualization), and became entitled to receive innovation awards (up to USD 10,000 per award). Up to 5 best project ideas submitted by individuals also were awarded with up to 5,000 USD. Innovation awards should have been used for purchasing/developing the hardware solutions, paying for the consultancy services and/or other costs indicated in their proposal.


What happened after the ideas have been selected and the best ideas were awarded?

From March 1, 2018 until December, 2018 (6 months of Incubation)

The best winning ideas had to be developed further into more specific concepts and projects during conceptualization phase. Applicants had to demonstrate they had the ability to deliver their project, by developing project documentation and closing financial construction. UNDP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental protection established 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, could have applied to the additional call for support to advance project concepts. Call was open on March 1, 2018 and lasted until May 1, 2018. Based on evaluation criteria at least 5 best project concepts could have been selected to the call. These Applicants were not competing for the Innovation award at that stage but did have an opportunity to join best project applicants from Ideation phase and get technical support through Incubator.

Incubator / Climate Innovation Hub. The Incubator was set as 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 had an opportunity to further elaborate project concepts, get mentoring and test the proposed solution. The selected teams have received all the coaching and technical assistance free of charge. The Incubation phase included also organization of specific workshops and boot camps to further support elaboration of the concepts, as well as other supporting items, including possible site visits and study tours. This incubation phase will lasted 6 months in total.

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

Applicants with the mature concepts had an unique opportunity to present themselves and their concepts at the Pitching Events. The Pitching Events have been an opportunity for partnership and funding, especially for small scale projects (projects up to USD 100,000). During September, the applicants whose Project value was above USD 100,000 had 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 conceptualization phase), there was an opportunity of co-financing of the implementation costs. Specific Investment Grant Support Mechanism was established, consisting of the CSUD project resources and the Government cost sharing, in the form of the Performance-based Payment Agreements. The co-financing through this Mechanism was provided by a co-financing grant. Criteria of the competition took into account progress made during the ideation and conceptualization phase and finalists from the conceptualization phase had competitive advantage for obtaining the grants. A co-financing grant scheme was finalized in the period from October, 2018 until December 31, 2018. Individual grants per project depended 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 was delivered in tranches with following minimum requirement: 40% of the total grant per project granted after signing the co-financing contract, while 60% of the total grant per project granted upon completion of the project. The investment related project was 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 were provided in the form of Grants (PBPs) or Innovation Awards or Exceptional Procurement. Certain solutions also could have been already prototyped throughout the ideation and conceptualization phase.


From January 1, 2019

In the implementation phase the Finalists had to put their ideas into action, their progress was 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 was organized to bring all finalists together and to make sure they understand expectations in the implementation phase.

Monitoring and reporting

Monitoring and reporting phase takes minimum of 12 months in total. This time limit was also taken into account when evaluating and selecting the finalists. Field visits have been organized, with the involvement of the Project team and Judges.


Spring 2022.

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, 20 best ideas have been 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 have received up to 5,000 USD per award. Innovation award was supposed to be used for the procurement/development of a hardware solution, paying for the consultancy services, project documentation development and/or other costs indicated in their proposal

All finalists of the Ideation phase had an opportunity to continue their journey toward the development of Project concept through the Conceptualization phase (second phase). Successful applicants also had an opportunity to benefit from technical assistance, mentorship and trainings. Project concepts selected in additional call for advance project concepts were not eligible for the innovation awards but did get the opportunity to join best project applicants from Ideation phase and benefit from technical support of the CSUD project Incubator.

For the projects selected as finalists and considered to be ready for actual implementation (upon completion of the conceptualization phase), project secured co-financing of the implementation costs through Investment Grant Support Mechanism (PBPs).

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.

Awarded projects

  • Polyurethane foams – end of waste


  • Innovative approach to production of pellets from medicinal herbs


  • Less garbage, more happiness and wellbeing for all


  • New approach in production of heat and electricity from wood biomass


Supported projects

  • Solar portable accumulator


  • Development of innovative solutions in the area of smart land management in agriculture




  • Smart energy infrastructure for public lightening and parking in cities




  • Innovative renewable biomaterials and biopolymer composites based on microbial expolysaccharides and waste from wood processing, paper and agricultural industries


  • Development of innovative business models for solar energy


  • Production of renewable energy and simultaneous CO2- sequestration from the atmosphere due to biochar production and application



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