The Context

Over the next three decades, billions of human beings will move into cities, joining the half of humanity already living in urban areas today. They will inhabit burgeoning towns, expanding urban centers, and the world’s great cities. In this process of transformation and rapid change, how can we ensure that cities become vibrant, healthy, and safe places to live?

The Urban Innovation Challenge: Life of the Future Citizen taps into Stanford’s creative potential to address critical social challenges. Stanford students have proven to be great engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists. When they engage with the world, they can also strive to be kind neighbors, active citizens, and thoughtful designers. By focusing innovation on urban-centered social, infrastructure, and policy questions, we challenge the Stanford community to support the ongoing global effort to imagine and remake cities into more human-friendly places to live, work, play—and to celebrate our common urban future.

The Challenge

Develop and pitch an idea for how future citizens will live, coexist, and thrive in cities. How will communities overcome common urban challenges and forge strong human connections? Multi-disciplinary teams of Stanford students will generate and exhibit their solutions at the "Global Cities in an Era of Change" international symposium, taking place on Thursday, March 31.


Your idea can engage one of the following thematic areas:

Democracy & Civic Participation                     Health, Urban Recreation & Public Spaces

Mobility in the Future City                               Urban Infrastructure: Building Blocks of Cities

The Future of Work                                          Create your own!  


All teams of finalists will build an exhibit and have the opportunity to present their innovative ideas to policy makers, real estate and urban planning professionals, and urban thought leaders at "Global Cities in an Era of Change"—an international conference hosted at Stanford University in spring of 2016.

The top three teams will also be awarded the following monetary prizes, as determined by a panel of judges.

All teams of finalists will also have their innovative ideas showcased in a publication by the Stanford Human Cities Initiative.

click to enlarge



  • Challenge Launched: February 12

Register your interest here and begin fielding your team of innovators!

  • Join other Urban Innovators: Sunday, February 28 and Wednesday, March 9.

Grab pizza, brainstorm with teammates, and chat about the competition.

  • Final submission deadline: March 11 at 11:59 PM

Review the submission guidelines thoroughly before submitting as a zip file to internationalurbanization (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Finalists announced: March 18

Finalists will then have two weeks to build an exhibit for the Global Cities Conference


Finalists At the Conference

  • Conference orientation: Monday, 3/28 (4-5PM)

Join a mandatory orientation to view the exhibit space and get acquainted with conference workings. Each team has a budget to build the exhibit.

  • All finalists pitch at the conference: Thursday, 3/31 (Guided Exhibits 11AM-5PM)

Staff your exhibit and share your innovation with industry professionals, government officials, and thought leaders!

  • Final awards presentation: Friday, 4/1 (12:45-1:10PM)

First Prize [$3000]     Second Prize [$1500]     Third Prize [$750]


Register here for regular updates about the contest! We'll keep you posted on deadlines, submissions, and also help you find teammates.


View the challenge and submission guidelines in detail here:

Human Cities Urban Innovation Challenge: Life of the Future Citizen (2016)

Download Contest Rules PDF


If you have further questions, please e-mail internationalurbanization (at) gmail (dot) com


Take a look at some intriguing concepts and major challenges that designers, planners and dreamers are considering tackling in urban centers around the world. Could any of them be part of your vision for the Future City? Get some food for thought on our Inspirations page.


The challenge and prizes are proudly sponsored by the following organizations:


Winners will build an exhibit and present to an international group of urban thought leaders, planning and real estate professionals, and city policymakers at the 2016 "Global Cities in an Era of Change" conference.

Top teams will win prizes of $3000, $1500 & $750. All finalists will be featured in a special publication of the Stanford Human Cities Initiative.


Find out more at