2018 Smart Infrastructure Challenge

Venture Smarter's Regional Smart Cities Initiatives - Smart Infrastructure Challenge
We must expand our conversation when it comes to infrastructure planning to include technology and IT...
— Congressman Brendan Boyle at the Smart Infrastructure Challenge launch in Washington DC


The Challenge


Regional teams of public and private sector collaborators are challenged to create an innovative smart infrastructure vision and planning framework to compete for grant funding, access to project financing, and support to pursue the plan.




Venture Smarter will provide free matchmaking support to interested government agencies and solution providers. 

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To register for the challenge, team leaders must submit a Letter of Intent by May 31st, 2018 11:59 pm EST. LoI submissions do not have to be detailed, but should paint a picture of who the collaborators are, and what problems are to be solved using smart and connected technologies.


Each Regional Team will have until October 25th, 2018 to explore and define how the participating organizations can collaborate together to research, plan, fund, and deploy their connected vision. During this period Venture Smarter will host monthly webinars open to all responding teams, and a series of in-person summits across the country to work with leaders one on one. *Presentation templates and scoring criteria will be made available.


Each team will showcase their innovative plans at the Smart Regions Conference in Columbus, OH on October 25th, 2018. Presentations will be recorded and streamed for remote viewers. The review board will announce Challenge winners following the conference. Draft presentations are due on September 27th, 2018.


Top teams in each of the four project tracks will have access to grant resources, project financing and integrated support to pursue their visions. Winning teams (all that qualify) will work with collaborators and financing partners to develop the plans and projects presented.


Special Thanks to challenge partners


Challenge Tracks


1.  Smart and Connected Development

Sponsored by Smart City Capital. This track is designed to help leaders create development plans that are tech-enabled (connected) and resilient. Projects can be focused on traditional infrastructure or developing smart and connected facilities, campuses, and innovation districts. Creativity is encouraged! Requirements will vary based on the type of project, and the financing partners will work with qualified teams to create a winning approach.  Smart City Capital will make detailed requirements available, and that information will be available on the Challenge website.

2.  Smarter, Safer Streets

Sponsored by Smart City Infrastructure. This track is designed to accelerate the implementation of connected, secured, and best-practices infrastructure related to smart street lighting. Requirements will be detailed and provided by Smart City Infrastructure, and made available for review on the Challenge website.

3.  Critical Infrastructure

Sponsored by National Infrastructure and Investment Alliance. This track is designed to identify ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects that are (a) tech-enabled and (b) repeatable. Top teams will work with NIIA to build awareness around the opportunity to help secure a direct federal investment to accelerate and complete respective projects. These projects may range from energy and water infrastructure to roads, bridges, and other transportation related infrastructure. Requirements will be detailed by NIIA and made available on the Challenge website.

4.  Next Generation Infrastructure

Sponsored by Venture Smarter. This track is designed to enable and accelerate the exploration of Tube Transportation (Hyperloop), Personal Rapid Transit, and other future leaning transportation infrastructure systems. Top teams will work with leaders to navigate right of way and policy barriers, financing and funding options, and education and workforce development efforts that will all be required to see any of these systems developed at scale.




$50 million in project financing has been revealed for Smart Infrastructure Challenge winners, and up to $3 billion is available ‘for the right projects.’

In each project track, up to $10 million in project financing is available for teams that qualify for the grand prize.

Second and third tier prize winners will have access to project financing ranging from $500,000 to $2,500,000.

Each responding team will work with the financing partners at Smart City Capital, Smart City Infrastructure, and the National Infrastructure and Investment Alliance to ensure their projects meet, or will meet the requirements for funding and/or financing.




Venture Smarter and our ecosystem partners have put together a grant and resource pool to support teams through the challenge, and winners following.

Top teams will be granted up to $250,000 in resources to support project management.

The first 25 regional applicants will be granted Venture Smarter integrated support services.

All teams will have access to ‘Matching’ to connect with new partners and resources as needed.




➝ Project Planning Checklist [view here]

➝ NIST GCTC Blueprints [view here]

Useful Links


➝ May 24 open info. webinar [register here]

➝ Informational Packet [view here]

➝ Checklist for submitting LoI [view here]

➝ May 10 webinar recording [download here]

➝ Online community group of challenge participants *Venture Smarter Portal [request access here]

Coming Soon...


➝ Smart Region Community Engagement Framework

➝ IEEE Interoperable Technology and IoT Framework

➝ Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide

➝ Smart Regions Challenge Presentation Template

➝ Smart Regions Challenge Scoring Criteria


Stay tuned for upcoming participant webinars hosted by challenge partners

Launch event takeaways and recaps

Venture Smarter hosted local, state, regional, and federal officials and legislators along with academic and industry experts at the Smart Regions Congress in Washington DC on February 15th, 2018 - where we also made initial announcements about the 2018 Smart Infrastructure Challenge. 

Kick-off Announcements at the Smart Cincy Summit

Venture Smarter hosted the Second Annual Smart Cincy Summit in Cincinnati, OH where local, state, federal, and industry leaders convened with community members, academics, and researchers to continue the conversation, and catalyze smart action in and around Cincinnati, OH. It was here that we kicked-off the 2018 Smart Infrastructure Challenge and made a number of announcements including the revealing of $50 million in available financing for Challenge Winners.